The first week of the month is a boon to the family.
You see, sometime last year, the new owner of my dad's newspaper business held a meeting with my mother. It was to formalize his position after he took over the entire operations from my dad's ex business partner (read: mistress). The plan was to tap us as witness in case the ex business partner brings the issue to court. We are the heirs after all. The new lord even promised that we will have a share on whatever income the tabloid generates. We were elated. We would learn later on that the ex-business partner had already erased my father's name in every document she submitted to the government.
Nevertheless, the informal agreement was already sealed and so we continue to receive a monthly paycheck.
What makes my last visit different is that as I signed the receipt receiving the royalty, a chinky-eyed guy emerged from the publisher's office. He was slightly taller than me and twice as massive. He wore faded jeans, a green shirt and held an Apple gadget. One look, and I knew he was no ordinary kid. He would never be mistaken as a mere employee as his gait hinted his place in the hierarchy.
I overheard him asking for ten thousand pesos to the staff's surprise. Her eyebrows creased as she was explaining earlier to an old shoddy guy beside me that they were having difficulties getting payments from dealers. The publisher suddenly showed up. His presence made everyone feel awkward outside his quarters.
To hurriedly leave would be impolite as the big boss is now standing before me. Much as I wish not to be noticed, I was a few steps away from his office. I was the first person he saw when he scanned the room. There was no place to hide. Not even the corner where I pretended to read old issues of our newspaper. As he gave instructions to his staff, his voice roared like thunder in an open field. We never spoke a word. Just a quick nod to acknowledge my presence.
And as I watch the events unfold before me - with the new lord standing there, and with the boy and his girl companion giving a peck on his cheek before walking away, there was a familiar resonance that stirred a dormant memory.
This scene has happened before.
"Ah si Sir Jake?" The staff said after the party left the room. Jake is not the real name of the boy I was observing. "Anak nga siya ni sir. Siya ang boss namin dito." She pursed her lips to point at the desk where the kid drops his work stuff. It was adjacent to the quarters where the new owner holds office.
"I'm sure he lingers longer inside his dad's room." I thought. "I remember someone who had the same habit before."
Parallel lives seen in a moment's time lapse. As I wobbled down the stairs - befuddled as the boy's image once reflected mine, my head spins with flashbacks of my own narrative.
For once, a long long time ago, I used to have that strange gait when I walk towards the publisher's office. I used to have a desk in the room where the circulation and accounting department do business, and I used to kiss my dad on his cheek in full view of our employees - even when the mistress is around. In a workplace where family and professional ties blur the relationship, affirmation is revealed to assert how blood is thicker than business.
Thinking of the chinky-eyed boy and his rugged looks as I put ourselves in perspective, may his fate shine a little brighter, than what our diminished fortunes ebbed our lives.