Sunday, April 26, 2009

Outside The Rain Begins

Jethro walks into the dining area from the kitchen, shirtless and his hands, wet. He stands there for a minute, waiting for the conversation he has walked into to come to a pause. He doesn't want to interrupt his kuya and his nanay. As soon as an opportunity presents itself, he jumps in. "Kuya Law, do you have a strainer?"

Law turns to him and stares blankly, trying to think whether he has any.

Rye stops what he is doing, looks to their direction and bows his head. He was putting down the wicker magazine racks that hang by the windows to let the cool breeze in.

After a beat, Law replies, "Uhmm... I don't."

"Strainers, we don't have any in this house. But strangers, we have a lot in our lives. Real strangers whom we've never really met, and the other kind of strangers: people who were once important parts of our lives that we chose to become strangers, because if we allow them to linger any longer, they might hurt us again," Rye says, still looking down.

Ryan Lee, who is in the living room, previewing "The Love Of Siam", hears all these and solicits, "Who are they, nay?"

"I don't know, 'nak. I don't know them anymore," Rye claims.

They take a moment to let the energy die down and then they burst into corpulent laughters, applauding themselves for another spontaneous dramatic improvisation. Afterwhich, each one of them goes back doing his own thing. Jethro to the kitchen to solve the absence-of-strainer issue; Law to his chopping board, slicing the veggies for his kare-kare; Ryan Lee to "Love Of Siam", Rye to the window.

It is a stormy Friday. The previous night, at 8pm, Rye overheard from his colleagues that the HK Observatory was predicting that Typhoon 8 would be hoisted by dawn and probably even to 9 mid midday. He knew that this would be a non-working Friday. He packed his getaway bag, called Jethro, organized a get-together at Law's even before Law agreed, and headed to Causeway Bay. They kept themselves up all night, monitoring the direction and the speed of the winds, hoping that the storm doesn't decide to take a re-route.

Albeit a few hours delayed, the storm finally settled in at 7 in the morning, and the suspension of work was made official. Ryan Lee arrived. Those were the circumstances that led them here. Now.

The color of the peanut sauce and that of the achuete start to meld, as the oxtail becomes too tender, it begins to disintegrate. The buzzer sounds off, and Jethro gets up from the couch, where he and his brother, Ryan Lee, have been sitting over the last 2 hours, watching the foreign film that Ryan Lee was previewing since he got here. He opens the door to let Enan and Steve in. They have with them a pot of champorado and a hefty amount of fried danggit.

Later on, Josh, Miro and Dan arrive and the party gets started. Jethro gets on the computer and invites some more friends who, after about an hour, come with enough supply of alcohol to feed the whole household until the storm subsides.

On the 18th floor of Pearl Mansion on Patterson Street, the Beckies get lost in oblivion--- celebrating friendship, sharing love, toasting to an extra dayoff, and making a complete fool of themselves while outside, the rain begins. They pray that it never ends.