Weekly Writing Challenge_Odd but FriendlyFebruary 12, 2013
I already forgot his first name but his surname is still etched in my memory, much more his person. He was not a friend, nor a relative; just someone who had crossed my path but he was instrumental in making me study the Japanese Language. His name is Mr. Albano, a “nisei” [half Filipino-half Japanese]. I first met him in the office where I first worked somewhere in Makati City, a business district in Metro-Manila. He was a very quiet man and just doing his daily job of delivering milk to us, or whosoever ordered from him. He appeared to be very solitary. He was a little taller than I am; must be 5’5”, a lean, brown skinned man with chinky eyes, a la Japanese not Chinese though. I don’t remember him wearing a T-shirt; it had always been light-colored polo shirt with short sleeves. My office mates used to laugh at him because he seemed odd to them especially when he speaks. He spoke of topics off their usual stuff.. He either talked about the past or the future. I found him interesting because of that. I became his “client” and each day while he delivered the milk to me, he taught me sentences in Japanese; his mother was a Japanese. He told me that other than Japanese, German is the language one should study. In the business world he said then, they would be very useful in the future. I got so interested in Japanese language that I seriously went to study it at the Japanese Cultural Center. I practiced with him whatever I was learning; then he disappeared. Nevertheless, I continued to pursue with my study for two years up to the point when I could even write and read simple Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana. I even passed the exams the Japanese Center gave to students that allowed me to visit five Japanese cities with other Asians for cultural exchange.
After many months, I met Mr. Albano again in a jeepney, a colorful, public transport popular in our country. I didn’t immediately recognize him. For one, it was unusual for someone wearing a Western suit to ride in a jeepney. It would be too hot to go out with that attire on. That was quite odd especially in summer. As I intently looked at him because of that non-synchronicity, it surprised me no end when I finally recognized him. He still looked quite serious. He was happy to know that I proceeded in studying Nihongo. I asked him what he was engaged in at that time. He said that he had stopped delivering milk and that he was engaged in the business of transporting/exporting bananas. Then he started his mathematical calculations that per banana, he gets .25 cents multiply it by hundreds / thousands, and he gets a lot. When he got off, I felt both happy and sad for him — happy for seeing him again quite successful it seemed, but sad as somehow the streak of loneliness never deserted Albano san as when I first met him. He remains as one of the most unforgettable characters in my life!