A few delivery vans stood in queue and I reckoned that they were used to transporting trays of food to satisfy the appetites of people working at the wee hours. The bright lights only amplified the deafening silence of the big tent surrounded by the rain-soaked emptiness of the parking lot. Was it really a Friday night?
Each stall had a pair of sellers struggling to stay awake. Some were counting money, some were cleaning up and some were picking each others’ grey hairs while listening to Papa Jack’s True Love Conversations. The food that they were selling was almost gone. It was the perfect time to play “Closing Time”, wrap up and leave that place. The feast was over, but you and I had just arrived.
Banchetto is Italian for “banquet” or “feast”, but for people like us, living in Metro Manila, it is a food haven found in streets near major call center areas such as Ortigas, Libis and The Fort; a collection of stalls serving different kinds of food from kimchi to pizza, brownies to isaw. It is the type of place that my friends and I go to for “food trips”. Of course some people still come solo – they were the ones who stared at us the most.
You were trying to make the ate who sold Ilocos empanada laugh, but like her, I was sort of detached. Maybe it was because I was tired, or because of the constant and random reminders of the built-in schedule book in my head, or maybe it was just getting late. I lacked sleep.
Then, we were facing each other and you started to talk. I love it when you talk. You are one of the few people who make sense to me.
Next, it was my turn to talk. I laid my cards on the table while you ate your siomai. We stirred ourselves by paddling in a sea of honest words, trying to figure out if our boats were headed towards the same direction. You’ve always been persistent and I, more detached.
The night, or rather morning, ended not with fireworks but with an untimely preaching of how it should be. You read me so thoroughly that I did not even need to speak. Yet what can break the fortress that isolates the part of me that you wanted to reach? Is it this moment or your annoying sanguinity?
I just sat there and chewed on my brownie, exhausted by what I had been through lately. Nonetheless, I was thrilled about the surreal prospects for the future, like the empty Banchetto past midnight clearing away the mess and at the same time anticipating another feast in a different location.
In a while, the stalls will be dismantled, food will be packed, and everyone will move on. Will I ever do the same? If yes, will you still be there to smooth talk me with your fancy ideas? Will we ever get to experience what we hoped for and not get disappointed as now – a leftover of a feast you’ve been poking with toothpicks? And should I make do with what is left over of me? – Salimbay
Editor’s note: Contributing author wished to stay anonymous, under the pseudonym “Daril”.