Prompt: What is the best gift for your other half?
No one was at the office except my mother and me. Nothing extraordinary that my eight- year- old self would remember forever was supposed to happen until she reached the bottom of her table and brought out a shoebox.
“What is that?” I asked. Of course, I asked what was inside the shoebox because it could not be a new pair of shoes. It was just February, and there was no need for anyone to get new ones. Then she opened it. Inside was not a pair of footwear but a bunch men’s belongings. It looked boring, but I was interested nonetheless.
Powder, deodorant, cologne, razors, belt, wallets and more. Nothing special. My father uses them every single day.
“For what?” I asked again, but she did not answer me. Then I finally understood that it was going to be a gift for my father for Valentine’s Day. It took me a while because we did not do gift giving then. We would buy each other things from time to time, but we never gave presents religiously.
It was the first and last gift I saw my mother wrap for my father.
Did my father like it? I hope so. Did he use it? I am sure.
More than ten years later, now, I see my father open a box. This time, with a pair of boots inside. He inspects the inside and checks out the laces. He tries it on but the insoles are gone, and the colors have faded. The toe cap looks like a nagging mouth hungry for some strong rugby.
I tell him we will buy a new pair when we go to the city. He knows we can buy as many pairs as he wants. Life is different now. But then he also says “Nanay and I bought these together,” and I can feel the longing in this voice as he tells me when and where they exactly bought it. Nobody in the family gets to say something else when an item brought with our mother becomes unusable and irreplaceable.
I shut my mouth.
The shoes may have lost its value, but the thought will always be priceless. We can have it repaired a hundred times until the only option is to give it rest.
My father will forever live with the bittersweet memory of the day they bought that last pair together. And right now, that is all that matters.