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HONORING MY MOTHER | On my second cup of silence

I’ll never forget one early morning breakfast in a farmer’s hut where I had spent the night sometime in the mid-90s. Back then, I was still working for a non-government organization and just about to start a day-long trek in the mountains to interview uplanders for our research. But going back to the topic of breakfast, we weren’t having your usual city fare of bread or toast, eggs and what-have-yous. Instead, it was just boiled, unripe “saba” (plantain), ginamos, a little leftover rice and a heaping mug of native coffee.

The sun wasn’t quite up yet but already, mixes of orange to flamingo already threatened to invade the dark where a few stubborn stars still lingered. We sat there, facing each other, breaking fast with only the tiny light of a small kerosene can in the middle of our otherwise dark and bare table. Our faces looked like that of track athletes before a race, with everyone deep in thought and still deep inside own personal worlds. All quiet, reserved and content to just cup their warm mugs with both hands to stave off the cold. In all, the ambience of our tiny kitchen felt more like that of a chapel’s, where even a hush meant breaking an unwritten law. The peace and quiet of having your first cup… one of the things I miss at breakfast.

I am likewise reminded of a young boy of about three sitting at breakfast wearing a face like Dr. Freeze and just staring into nothing. Her aunt (my gf then) asks softly, “Adrian, what are you doing?” and he hoarsely mumbles, “I am thinking”. All grown up now, I am wondering if he still sticks to his thinking ritual whenever he sits at the breakfast table before his coffee.

I know not everyone drinks the brew come mornings or drink it at all but I’ve to ask, whatever morning rite do you indulge in once you sit at the table? Surely, there must be some sacred ritual which involves a certain lull and silence, while you tick off things to do for the day in your head. A quiet before the storm, so to speak. Or it could just be the opposite as with others.

During a much earlier time, we were only afforded a few quiet moments. I remember my mother reciting to us high-schoolers the chores before we leave for school or reminding us of assignments we dare not forget once we got home. Now, I am just starting to accept, even as others like us find a certain solace in a few quiet minutes while at our coffee, other people prefer to fill theirs with whatever with declarations of inspiration, insight and discoveries they might have had during the night before. In the case with many whom I know, it’s the time for discussing news and many other trivialities that may have transpired in the past and the present. For politicians, perhaps the future. In the end, it’s to each his own and that’s that.

I’m just about to have a second. And at that, the promise of a second quiet.



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