Part (Short for ‘Partner’)
No, he isn’t any bosom buddy. Nor is he an office colleague. He isn’t my gimmick partner either. In fact, Part is no guy. She’s my grandmother. Well, she was.
I never really had any vivid memory of her while I was still growing up as a kid in Manila. I knew she visited us at times. But that was all I could call to mind. Yes, I was told funny anecdotes about her and her feeble grasp at Tagalog. But then again, they failed to register with my childhood memory.
Following my parents’ separation, we went on an exodus to Ormoc, my mother’s hometown. That began a new chapter in my life, an episode where Part was no longer a “guest” but a part of the main ensemble. At the time, my mother had to be in Manila for the most part in an effort to win alimony from my dad. And during those times, it was Part who beat the cock to its crow every single morning. She made sure her grandson had his tummy full and would never be late for school. I still called her “Lola” then.
It was atypical for dear granny to last a day without even the slightest ounce of tuba. Although she also drank beer and hard liquor on occasions, my grandma had a predilection for this “coconut wine.” Such routine was touted as her “refueling.” So the sight of a glass (or sometimes plastic) gallon somewhere in the house that had been unglamorously stained by this reddish liquid became common. And the sonorous cackles meant the tuba already had an effect on her. She would snooze right after.
As every single cell in me aged, I drew closer to my grandma. Eventually, I foregone the “Lola” and supplanted it with “Part,” short for “Partner.” Of course people found it a little beyond the confines of custom. They thought I was being insolent. But I was not, and Part knew that. In fact, for the younger minds in our neighborhood, our relationship was an avatar of something cool, something that defied convention. It was more than some sheer bloodline thing. It was friendship.
When I was in college in Cebu, she was very vocal in saying she missed me a lot whenever we got the chance to talk over the phone. It was evident in the way she met me every time I went home. Of course, she appreciated the little pasalubongs I gave her. And whenever she exclaimed that what’s important is not the goodies I bring but the assurance that I’m always okay, in the pink of health, blah, blah, blah…I would casually dismiss her for such frail attempts at drama.
Time flew. I graduated and everything, and had since moved to Makati to pursue a career. I was with Part for the last time in December of 2000, during their golden wedding anniversary, a day I remember as one when she was radiating with utmost joy.
But her years of drinking (with nearly an empty stomach at times) took its toll on her. Her liver had been adversely affected, rendering it incapable of detoxifying her body. At this rate, it was undeniable that the future for her was glum. She died of liver cirrhosis about a year later.