“Hey! Look there!”
When I followed the direction my kumpare pointed to, it was too late to recover. I saw a glimpse of what could have been her.
“Are you thinking what I am thinking?” he observed my initial reaction.
“You’re seeing ghosts. It’s broad daylight, Pare.”
He would not swallow the dismissal because he was well aware of my recent past, especially the love interests in my life. I often rambled about them when we were at sea, waiting for the fish to bite the bait.
“I am having a good time and now you want to ruin it,” I added, wanting him not to dwell on the matter further.
“Can I borrow it? I want to see it again.” He was still as persistent as usual.
“I don’t have it anymore,” I replied offhand. “Ask the fishes!”
“You threw it away? Why?”
He could not believe it since he himself had pictures of his former girlfriends hidden inside his wallet. My kumare was not interested with its contents as long as he provided the money for the family.
“It always hurt when I see it so I let it float away.”
“I really like her red hair,” my kumpare believed it was a fake the first time he saw the photo. “You were dumb!”
“You said that a hundred of times before. You do not have to repeat it again.” I gave him a wry smile. It was the part I looked brave outside but hurting inside,
“How could you have let her break up with you?” Again, the question had been asked before.
“I was dumb, remember?” I shot back. “Besides, if we did not break up, I would not have been here.”
I had rehearsed my defense in my head that I actually believed it.
“Do you miss her?”
I paused. I would be lying if I did not say yes.
“I miss our days in the forest picking berries and mushrooms. At home, baking bread and some.”
My kumpare knew when to shut up. He knew I was on the verge of spilling more than necessary.
“She did not trust me.” It was the painful truth. “She would not understand.”
“Women can be too mysterious at times,” he said, adding a safe remark.
“She always believed that I will leave her later. I could not prove her wrong. How could I?”
I could still remember the day I walked away. That scene would never leave my mind for the rest of my life.
“There were prevailing incidents back then,” I continued. “Events that gave local girls insecurities of being abandoned by foreign men once they got what they wanted.”
After another long pause, I sighed. “I was dumb.”
“In Love, you are,” my kumpare agreed, changing the subject to his favor. “If you married my sister . . .”
“You don’t know when to stop,” I interrupted, laughing, partially relieving the pain I felt. “I’ll tell your son about the pictures in your wallet.”
“Look at me!” he pointed to his mouth, zipping it closed.
As if on cue, my godchild arrived without us knowing. He came from behind without a sound.
“Thank you Ninong for everything,” he said, shaking my hand.
“I know your father will honor our deal.” I was relieved the boy did not hear our conversation.
My kumpare silently mumbled his confirmation.
Before we parted ways, I took their postal address along with contact numbers in case I was tempted later to give them a surprise visit.
“See you when I see you!”