Friday, July 30, 2004


My family was eating the pancakes I prepared for merienda with gusto. Stories and comments flew freely from mouth to mouth that were dripping with amber-colored maple syrup swirled with lemony yellow melted butter that releases a feeling of hope and warmth that rises unto the ceilings, floating out the windows streaming with afternoon sunlight after a downpour, with each bite of the fluffy cake.

They have no idea what had transpired when I was preparing the pancake 30 minutes ago that my family were now devouring happily, oblivious to my inner turmoil.

- - -

I made sure that the ingredients were ready. All of them stacked neatly, beside each other at the blue-tiled counter like soldiers in line formation, awaiting orders from their captain, maybe wondering who would be the first to die at this battle.

I cracked the egg on the side of the bowl. It sounded like someone's heart breaking. Next came the water, then the pancake mix, and then oil. Contrasting ingredients that resemble a morning after sleeping with someone you hardly know then waking up in his bed the following morning.

Furiously I stirred the ingredients, forming them into a lumpy batter, like the face of the moon seen through a powerful telescope at nights when there are no clouds.

I stirred until my arms ached, until the lumps disappear in accordance to the steps in the recipe. At last, the batter was now as smooth as a statue made from flesh-colored alabaster.

I opened the stove and waited for the griddle to heat, staring at the batter as I do so. How could something this mellow come from something as chaotic as ingredients thrown together in a bowl, coming from all directions, dropped like a kamikaze bomb, creating destruction.

I dropped the first batch of pancakes to be cooked, then it all became a blur of flipping, spreading margarine, drizzling maple syrup, and then stacking them like kiddie alphabet blocks, each cake dangling precariously on the edge. Some were burnt, because I left them on the griddle too long than what is asked for. Some were cooked prematurely, that when sliced, uncooked batter oozed out. But it would be a waste to throw them all out. So we had to contend to eat them even if they were cooked poorly, even if they do not taste good, that's why blueberry and raspberry jams were used to offset the unwanted taste. Yet some were cooked to perfection: gleaming brown on both sides like a farmer's broad back that glistens underneath the heat of the afternoon sun.

Why do I get the feeling that this is just more than a simple pancake that we were eating? This is my life that they were devouring. All twenty years of my life were thrown in that mixture, seeping its way into the folds of the batter that was stirred, then cooked into the hot griddle for everyone's verdict.

Were they happy? Were they satisfied? Is that distaste I saw in my father's mouth as he bit into a particular burnt portion of the cake? Does my nephew thinks it taste good or was he more interested in throwing pieces and crumbs on the floor? My mother, the champion bruiser and cooker in this family, what does she think of my cooking? Does it live up to her standards? Can I ever eclipse her legendary cooking prowess? Fact is, I don't really care.

I'm more concerned about the stack of plates that is ever growing on the kitchen sink. Dirty plates that are now calling my name, begging to be washed and placed in the dryer.


I picked up the sponge, pour soap on it and gave it a short squeeze. I opened the faucet, releasing a torrent of clear water and proceeded to wash each plate, one by one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you've served your family for too long. you NEED, HAVE to go to new zealand. and yes, i feel guilty that you're still here when you can be independent there. i'm the cause of why they're devouring you right now...

you need to move away. be on your own. maybe then you wouldn't think so much on the nights with strangers, or the tempests inside your mind and heart.

i would suggest slashing, but you'd sooner kill me than let me show you that...

write, write, write away... you'll be a palanca winner yet, dear one...

i hope we are not satellites, chel. go to my livejournal. see the quote. maybe i'm the one locking myself and launching my own satellite...

such a self-damning loner...