by VON ZYRON P. ALIMORONG
SOMETIME around 7 a.m., a truck full of boxes came to Lester’s house. They were delivered by someone named Inday—a name he did not know, though the recipient he recognized as his own. Ten boxes were haphazardly pushed onto his sala. They contained tapes; old ones—VHS ones—which he knew nothing about. They were labeled, but there seemed to be no pattern in the names. With efficiency did his hands move, as if his hands bore memories of their own, they swiftly turned on the player and inserted a tape labeled “Morning Routine.”
After a moment of static, an old woman appeared. She bore a striking resemblance to him, but he did not know who this woman was.
“Apo, 8 a.m., you… eat. After that, you pray. Ay, no, you pray, then you eat. You thank God, and you say, please help me fix my brain,” she gestured with her hands to almost every word that she spoke. She was clearly not fluent in English, yet she continued. “Then, gamot. You take… medicine. Galantamine. For your brain. Then, read. Newspaper, book. You like The Bear Came Over The Mountain.”
“Why that one?” a voice from behind the camera spoke. He bore the same strong Ilocano accent he has.
Her eyes seemed to reminisce and her voice slowed down, as if telling a lullaby. “No dika makaturog, kanayon a basaek kenka dayta.”
“Then apo, do not forget your stepmother or ni Mateo.”
There was silence. Her old eyes stared at the camera. “Apo, no patayennak daytoy a kanser ket agmaymaysaka, kanayon a laglagipem a kanayon nga addaak kenka ken kanayon a maipagpannakkelka.”
“What does that mean?”
She sighed deeply. Whether it was out of fatigue or frustration, he did not know. “Isardengmo dayta kamera,” she said, pointing her finger directly at the screen. She stood up with great care to her steps.
A person resembling a much younger him stepped into the frame before it stopped. He could not understand what had just happened or who that person was. He just knew in his heart she must have been someone important to him, someone he felt he should never forget. F