Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nostalgia for Words

Can you believe this? That sometimes I am just way nostalgic for some odd things in life, for reasons unknown to my consciousness, like nostalgic about words...

The shameless sun was nowhere yesterday noon as I ferried for a ride going home. The tricycle which picked me up had one passenger already at the backseat, an old lady. I was able to look a bit of her as I took the front seat, an ocular habit that I must admit I have developed for the many years now of commuting in this bumpy world. The wrinkles in her face betrayed her age, but she was a well coiffed woman. Just as when the tricycle drove off, the old lady resumed talking to the driver with her rants of words, so I surmised that they already had conversations before I aboarded. 

She was complaining about how her hometown Ciudad de Zamboanga has become messy nowadays because of the various whys and wherefores she explained. Piqued by the topic, I turned back to the her.
In turn to Chabacano.

"Chabacano tu, hermana?" I asked curiously. I saw an immediate surprise in her face, but she was more delighted, probably at how I spoke the language.

"Si," she confirmed cheerily with a bright face. "Chabacano tu tambien?" she queried.

"Un, un" I stuttered as I tried my best while the old lady nodded her head to and fro as if helping me to express what I wanted to say. "Un Chabacano el abuelo de mio," I finally uttered, groping for the right words to answer.

"Ah. Chabacano man yo pero ya vive yo aqui," she said.

We felt at ease with each other in an instant like we're a glove and a hand for she kept talking to me, too. She pointed out how her pueblo have become ugly because, for one, of the influx of migrants who are naturally not Chabacanos. I understand that she is a purist person who belong to the former generation and wanted to preserve what is distinct her culture - its colorful language. Okay, but who cares about preserving language nowadays?

Yet listening in her creole language brought a frisson of nostalgia in me for reasons that I can't fathom for myself. Am I hearing my granny back? Am I one with the thoughts of this lady in my past life? Or am I just in a poignant mood at the moment? This woman is having a nostalgia of her old things, of her old hometown, of her old language, just like me.

As the tricycle stopped in front the church, the old lady gave her fare to the driver and went off the tricycle. She still seemed to have a lot to talk about but she just looked at me and exclaimed with a wide smile: "Adios, guapito!"

Some people are nostalgic about childhoods, about countrysides, about traditions. Other people are nostalgic about other people. Are few people, like me and that old lady, nostalgic about words?

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