Remembering Lent as a boy of 13, used to feel the burden of looking at a long list of Suman deliveries for all the orders Ina has taken from visiting Paetenos who has moved elsewhere. Our Suman is the choice for family gathering come vacation. Some even stop right by even before getting home.
Lent is one of the busiest cooking seasons for my Mom, probably preparing as much as more than a thousand Suman, along with orders of Kalamay. We used to jump at her errands, buy this, get that, and that is while we also have to deliver the paper for that day, and the usual household chores a boy growing up in Paete has to do around the house.
By Tuesday, the order list would have been filled already, and I know I have to borrow Amang Pudo’s or Dada Joaquin’s trolley so that I can move more in one trip. The deliveries can go as far as Sementeryo and Panchong, or every eskinita where the order need to be. But it’s okay, back then I know every nook and cranny, exits, alternate streets from my paper route. Wednesday and Thursday will be the busiest yet, with the Friday spent in silence, or at least we tried to be quiet, or else the older people might Shhhh you.
Oh, but the evenings were a joy! Rubber slippers are scrubbed, and wearing my favorite jeans and t-shirt, me and my friends would go out and visit the houses which have santos in their care. The Senior Nazareno, of both churches *we have two- The Big Catholic Church and the Small Aglipayan Church). Funny, we get as much fun walking around, harassing each other, ogling the girls we thought were cute, and maybe we can sneak some booze and smoke some cigarettes out of the public eye.
But you know what? My Ina knows that. I think every mother knows what her offsprings are up to, now that I think about it. But she never says a word. When friends brought me home drunk and almost unconscious, I woke up the other day with a change of clothes and smelling of calamansi, and she just smiled and asks ” Mukhang napagod ka yata kagabi?” and then she would give out instructions of how long the Suman already cooking at the sulad should be kept with a good fire for a couple more hours, slice the vegetables, chop the onions, crush the garlic, prepare the hipon for the bibingka, while she goes out to the market and look for something.
I miss my Ina. Losing my mom feels like losing my way home.