Michel Legrand asks: What are you doing the rest of your life?
Before I start anything now, perhaps I should finish things I’ve begun. A number come to mind.
I could pick up from where I left on in French. I began it in 1955, at the Colegio Mayor de Padre Poveda, in Madrid, and at the Alliance in Paris, for a whole summer, at age 15.
In my 40s, I went to Alliance in Manila and reached, I think, Level 4. Celeste and Nonoy Gallardo were classmates of mine—and how I envied her diction! Padre Poveda has since become a saint, and I’m on the verge of 80, and Celeste’s hair has turned all white and beautiful, making me feel terrified of the prospect if I myself stopped dyeing.
French or Spanish?
But, again, at the rate Paris and I are changing, why go back to French at all? Maybe I should take up Spanish, instead—in case this country goes to pot. I could go to Spain legally, with my grandfather’s birth certificate—he was born in Barcelona.
The Spanish I learned has evolved considerably; I feel so outdated in Spanish movie festivals, especially hearing the modern-day cuss words and idioms. Still, I’d probably feel adequate with what I know.
There was a time I wanted to master the language, to be able to read Spanish literature in the original. But, then again, there are so many books in English I’ve not read.
And I could also take up mahjong again, proven good for the memory. All my mahjongera friends have certainly not lost their marbles; I quit mahjong altogether after my first baby.
In truth, it was never my game. I couldn’t sit that long without developing body aches. It was my mother’s game. I became part of a foursome only to substitute for someone who needed to go for relief or on a short errand. Lola Enchay had brainwashed us against all forms of gambling. She wasn’t too proud that her own mother, Lola Kayang, was addicted to the card game panggingge.
Forget about learning any sports now. Although I did enroll in tennis at Club Filipino in my late 30s. I finished the course and got a T-shirt that said “Johnny Jose Taught Me” on the condition I was not to wear it while playing. I think I’ll stick to my aqua exercise, but what do I do when I’m not at it, when I’m supposed to exercise 30 minutes a day? When it’s too hot to walk in the park, I walk in Greenbelt mall.
I could enroll in dancing, if only my husband weren’t vehemently opposed to the idea of me being twirled around the floor by paid greasy-haired Travoltas. Zumba lessons at Sunshine Place, on Jupiter Street, might have been a good compromise; alas, they were on the day our car is color-coded, which, for me, is a karmic sign of something not meant to be. Tita Techie, 94, told me she does it there sitting on a chair. When I laughed, she said, “Yes, and it can be strenuous, too!”
Menchu, another friend, finds Zumba too mild and unexciting. Ninit says that she herself joined a Zumba class in her neighborhood club, but that, looking at her reflection in the mirror gyrating, she suddenly felt silly. She quit. I can see the same thing happening to me.
After giving some thought to Legrand’s question, I think to myself, what would I enjoy doing the rest of my life, and why don’t I do just that?
In that case, I’ll visit my old uncle Peping as often as I can. I’ll have quick bites with busy old friends to touch base. I’ll spend as much time in the company of cousins and classmates from the four schools I attended, and friends, including relatively new and patriotic ones who rally with me.
I’ll have as much time as I can with my children and grandchildren. Of course, I do enjoy the company of my husband, whether traveling together, or writing and reading our pieces to each other, or just talking, or even silently.
I just like being with people. Come to think of it, that’s what I’ve been doing, definitely not simply coasting along until we ran out of steam. My husband himself is suddenly upbeat, on a sort of second wind, as when he plays tennis singles.
With a newfound younger writing associate, Carlo, Vergel has begun working on book projects. And now the three of us together are starting a writing and editing course Vergel wants to call “Telling it like it is.” We may have already found a place to hold it, right on our street. I will have a small role in it, too.