Birthday behind locked doors


Manila— I took the opportunity of the relaxed quarantine to visit the family of one of my siblings, the one who lives nearer to me, to share an advanced birthday lunch with them. I spent a few hours eating and chatting while their dog kept barking at me. It’s been more than five months since I last saw them. Usually we dine out on the birthday of any one in the family. The dog was a fragile puppy then, but now it has grown bigger and kept barking while I was talking – seemingly reminding me that I’m a stranger.

I brought succulents planted on cute little pots and a peppermint. I instructed them not to water them every day. I told them that indoor plants contribute to a nicer feel at home. I assumed that we siblings all have green thumbs so the plants will be in good hands.

Many things happened during the lockdown. My niece inventoried my books (most of the books on their shelves are mine). My nephew seemed comfortable with his work-from-home situation. Then I looked at my photo albums they stocked and marked in a box. I didn’t realize I have a lot. There were also albums of newspaper clippings of my articles from many years ago.