One Friday afternoon in December, I was in Manila to have lunch with a friend. The trip was difficult and I was fretting over a lot of things: expenses for the upcoming holidays, my daughter's prospects for college and elswehere, the need to spend more time with bunso, as well as the deadlines I had to meet. Walking along Pedro Gil street just after alighting from the train,it began to drizzle – and I did not have an umbrella. Just great, I thought. I worried not so much about being rained on but walking on the mud and dealing with the spattering of passing vehicles. This was Manila, after all, not exactly the most pleasant-smelling place on earth.
But then I passed by strawberries wrapped in square styrofoams and being sold for fifty pesos per pack, and I managed to smile. I loved strawberries, loved the contrast of red and green, the way you can dip a piece into honey and pop it in your mouth. I loved, as well, the urgency of consuming a pack within x number of hours lest the crispness fade. And then I found myself uttering a wish, or a prayer, or whatever.
If someone would give me strawberries soon, I thought, or even something in the form of a strawberry, I could start hoping for better days. I am doing well, nowadays, of course, but I can just sink under all the pressure on my shoulders – manage my household, be a good mother, live up to being an up-and-coming writer who uses her writing to nudge people into action.
In the meantime, how about me? How about being worried about, for a change, being taken care of, being told, for once, to “Relax. Let me handle it.”? How about being asked what you need and want? Not worrying about your late-night companions in the jeepney? Being able to talk when you feel like talking? Not having to talk when you don't want to? Being gone out of somebody's way for?
Four days later, I was at a Christmas party for some NGOs and a friend, Vigie, handed me a cushion in the form of... strawberry. I thought it was something you used for pins, but the strawberry in fact transforms into a reusable bag when you turn it inside out. When you don't have use for it anymore, it becomes a strawberry again.
It's been in my bag since. I carry it around like a charm, a reminder that there is reason to be hopeful. Hope – a very nice Christmas present, indeed.
(Thanks, dear readers, for bothering with my musings. I know I have not blogged as much as I did in the beginning. I'll try to do better next year. Merry Christmas! -- Adelle)