included my mother — she who hardly has any patience for and dozes off at any movie shown on TV. It was September 11 – the festival’s opening night, and her birthday. Yes, she shares her birthday with a dead, brilliant dictator, and with the 9/11 attacks, but she’s pretty past her own tragic phases, God bless her.
My invitation so impressed her – Shang-ri La, a European film! Her daughter has indeed come a long way from arguing with bag inspectors at flood-plagued SM Manila Cinemas, those men of power who come short of tearing apart pages of her books whenever they’d dig their sticks into her terrorist backpack.
Eventually mother must have thought that she’s been ripped off. She had to stand up in line for a ticket for at least an hour, had to eat her birthday dinner in less than thirty minutes because her daughter (who neither paid for the dinner nor for the free movie) was hurrying her up, then stand in line again before entering the theatre for another half hour.
In front of her in the line are a young couple, perhaps in their twenties, who smooched all throughout the wait. Behind her was an elderly woman alone who seemed to have found a new best friend in the person of another twenty-something girl who came in her lonesome too – the elderly woman hardly gave the girl, who hardly opened her mouth, a moment of peace – the woman was relating to the girl her entire job history in weirdly accented English.
I didn’t feel like reflecting about my job history to the person who found me my ten-year-and-just-recently-ended career as a civil servant. But I was cold, terribly cold. So I asked my mother to hold me tight while we stood there in line. And I kissed her as many times as the smooching couple did before us, pouting our lips playfully for every kiss, grunting at every bear hug.
Then I told her she’d be reading subtitles, to which she emphatically said Ha?!
I pouted my lips at her yet again for another kiss.