We’re both light sleepers, and I am positive that I have gotten my aversion towards sleep from her. So our conversations stretch for hours until early morning, just few hours before she wakes up for her class at seven in the morning.
After dinner, when everyone has left the dining table, my mother and I are left to catch up with what we’ve left behind after not seeing each other for more than two years. So instead of washing the dishes, I get two tiny cups, empty two sachets of instant coffee and pour boiling water into the cups to dissolve the powder. This signifies the start of a long conversation until one of us calls it a night. Usually I.
The subjects of our conversations seldom vary. I noticed that we’ve been talking about almost the same things every time. This happens every time my siblings and I come home for Christmas, or in times like this when one of her children all of a sudden feels tired of life. This time it is I.
I always get the same reactions from her, the same tone of voice, the same pride whenever she relates to me her adventure when she was nine years old outwitting older people, how she and my father first met, and how she remembers the kindness of her dead father. Sometimes, if the conversation gets too emotional, she cries. Since I do not have the talent in consoling crying people, I just remain seated in my seat and try to sound as empathic as possible.
It made me feel proud of myself that year, I was home for the Christmas break. I came home without having to ask from my parents money for my fare as I attended a conference in Davao City that time. I decided to pay my family a visit for the holidays. I was sixteen years old then, my first year in college. I knew she was missing me so much as I told her that I would be spending Christmas at the university. The expression on her face upon seeing me alighting from a taxi in front of our house was that of Luigi Pirandello’s mother character welcoming his son arriving from war, alive and well.
That night, after our Christmas eve dinner, my mother and I had a conversation. Our talk did not have any format, theme, whatsoever. We simply wanted to listen to each other’s voice and stories, some we’ve already heard so many times that each can recount with accuracy the exact words used, the facial twitching, and even the part which should be given emphasis. But it was different that time, I felt her regard for me, how she addressed me like an adult, almost her equal. That time, I knew I was silently welcomed by my mother into the adult world.
And I always look forward to these conversations whenever I come home. At least, with my mother, I need not sound suave, intelligent, or self-confident; neither do I have to worry for the right word or the correct accent. And I expect nothing from her either. I just have to be her son, but someone who has gone a little bit older.