Back home in the summertime, I saunter around the quarter of town where the old shops are. I bought some groceries, and checked out the fresh catch of the day, trundling down the wet market. I usually go out alone in the first couple of days of a long vacation before the family sets out to go to the beach during weekends or hop along nearby islands.
Some stores have changed a little bit over time. Some, I swear have never evolved a tad in a decade or so, I have found. While the family goes around shopping in malls, I take time to go downtown by public jeepneys, and tricycles when meandering small mangy corners, to that anachronistic part of the city where I take ephemeral walks, as if floating in timeless avenues.
These are practically the same exact places mother and I used to go to when I was small. One shop still sells old cassette tapes, while one still has a picture of Kareem Abdul Jabbar in his prime posted on the wall; groceries still sell long-forgotten cookie brands, marbles, and colorful lollipops I used to have growing up.
Thinking of all these goods in all too familiar places reminds me all the time of mother, of the days we often visited the quarter for food and replenishments. The irony of the old place is that it hasn’t changed, at least to my eyes, like mothers are always above us and perenially worthy of respect. It’s unwavering, secure, unaffected. It lies deep within the heart of the city with nothing new to expect out of it, practically nothing new to look forward to, and yet we find ourselves continually going back to this place, retracting, as if holding on to us with the firmness of a mother’s love.