11:29 PM

Swish of Life

Posted by Prosy Delacruz


"Hi, I am awake". A sweet, smiling, graceful, long-haired beautiful woman lovingly unzips the shoulder belt on the child's seat.

It was Kamran, a four year old, born to an Iranian father and a Filipina mother, speaks like a diplomat and with each thought he has, he simply spreads the seeds of joy. He alights from his seat. He walks three steps towards me, but not too fast as he awaits his Mom and holds her hand.

" Tita Prosy, remember the time you came to my house one night?"

"Yes, I replied".

"You remember the time that you brought me pizza and surprised me?"

"Yes, Kamran".

"Why did you do that? "

Without any hesitation, I replied, " Because I like you very much, Kamran ." A big smile, so luminous that it might as well be a 100 watt light or more, he walks with confidence to my door.

This is Kamran's second visit to my house. Each visit is with a special seed of grace each time.

His first visit, he was clinging to his mother, Cindy, who speaks ever so gently in hushed tones to Kamran, conveying her appreciation to him at every chance she gets. It is not a mother who indulges Kamran's desires for material goods, but Kamran's choices. Back then, his steps were tentative, almost half-fearful to come inside my house, but Cindy reminds him that they had lunch with me before. " Do you remember, Kamran? We had Tita Prosy with us, and we were eating Thai food. " Kamran nods. And carefully, he walks in, still holding on to his mother's hands.

But this second visit was unlike the first. Kamran came straight to my kitchen, and with Cindy's help, he washed his hands so vigorously. No longer holding his mother's hands. He remembers our first baking session.

I call these my squish days. Squishing for more of joy into each other's life.

I brought out his chair to reach my prep table. " Here, Kamran, this chair is for you."

Another 100-watt smile in his face. This time, I took the time to look at his eyes, gleaming and at ease, a full set of eyes, luminous with light, coming from the insides. Not weary, not tired eyes. And the small curls in his hair, a natural perm, just made him even more angelic.

"Kamran, do you want to start with squishing the butter or bananas?"

He takes the butter, and unwraps the first. " Oooh, this is cold. ". And another quarter block of butter, his tiny hands squeezes with all his might.

I looked at him and memories of my daughter, Corina flashed before my eyes. Corina used to do that with me, while we made playdough. She was three years old, when we started baking together. She would mix the flour with water, and delight oozes out of her eyes, and she could not wait to apply the coloring drops. "Mom, she shouts out, how many, how many? "Sweetheart, as much as you think you would want to have. This is your playdough. You can make it as red as you want." She drops not one, not two, but five drops. She squeezes the dough so hard. " Mom, I want to make shapes now. Is it ready? " Yes, I said. She climbs down the stool with such confidence, it was rare that she fell, as she had innate body wisdom that I did not dare tamper with. We were at the park one day, at 15 months old, and Corina climbs up the slide, but chooses to go up the downhill part of the slide, on her own, without any help, as if climbing up the ascent of a mountain. Close to us were parents horrified that I was allowing her to experiment. One overreaching parent asked, " Are you not afraid that she will fall? " I replied, " No, Corina has innate body wisdom. She knows how to handle herself. " I quietly and surely walk up to Corina, staying near the slide, not hovering, just observing and watching. And she does not fall. She is simply stoic, and pleased and comes down in her own time.

Cindy was watching, with trustful eyes that her son knows what to do. Together, they line the muffin pan with multicolored paper liners. Kamran counts out, " one, two, three..... we have twelve, Mom".

Cindy smiles. "Yes, we have". Sensing him and what he is about to do, Cindy watches Kamran, on his own, unwraps each quarter size of butter. "Oooh, this is cold." He does not say this is fun, like most TV scripts would have you believe. Instead, he is fully sensing all that he touches. " It is slippery. It is soft. It is cold. " He sounds them out as he observes them.

We set aside the bowl of squished butter. Cindy then takes four Chiquita bananas, with just enough brown specks signaling their ripeness. And Kamran squishes the banana, one at a time. " Ooh, it is warm."

"Yes, it is Kamran". Cindy affirms him.

"Do you want to add the eggs now?" I wait for his response.

" Yes, he replied." I give him one egg and his tender small hands half-covering the outer shell. He starts to crack the egg, beating the side of the glass bowl, and nothing happens.

" Here, Kamran, let me show you. First, beat it by the side, gently poke a hole here in the cracked opening, and gently, ever so gently pull it apart. Remember, gentle, gentle"

He watches. He observes. He takes note. The second egg with some effort to crack. The third egg with deftness, and assuredness, he carefully does all the steps I showed him. All four eggs cracked, with not a single piece of eggshell on the batter. Success!

" Good job, Kamran! " Cindy exclaims, not flamboyantly, but with a lot of sincerity in her tone.

I watched Kamran and he appeared unfazed by the comment. Not necessarily hungry for these affirming comments from his mother, but certainly, his spirit infused by the warmth of her affection towards him.

I carefully measure out the cups of flour. "Here, Kamran, how about adding them now?" He pours each cup, and even counts them as we go on. " One, two, three " We stop there.

Aah, the sugar please. And we proceed to do the same. I am getting so much joy in doing this with him, it makes me relieve the days I had with Carlo.

And memories flash back. Carlo next to me. He was five years old then when he started baking with me, a skill I have intentionally and deliberately passed onto my kids. Except Carlo does not like standing on the stool nor the chair. He wants to sit at the edge of the tiled white counters of our kichen. " Mom, I want to measure, okay? " "Of course, Carlo." I hand him the measuring cup. " Mom, how many cups? " Even then, he is already taking charge. I need six, for we are making three banana breads, one for your Daddy, one for you and one for Corina. " Mom, how about you? " Oh, I get to share your bread, your Daddy's or Corina's. He carefully measures them, one cup at a time.

At the end of the baking session, Carlo would ask for ice-cream. "Mom, I want the chocolate ice cream, okay? " Using an affectionate tone, as if to sense me and my reaction. As soon as I serve him ice-cream, he creates an artpiece, using a spoon and his face. He takes and rubs the spoons on his cheeks, then his chin. Enrique could not help himself, he grabbed the camera. As if diligently studying his subject and waiting for that special moment, Enrique shoots every movement of Carlo, left cheek, right cheek, chin, forehead and even his eyes. A story of art captured in pictures. The memory seared in our collective minds. We laughed so loud. And Carlo, exhausted by the baking session and the ice-cream painting he did, asks to be put down. "Mom, I want to sleep now." " Not yet, Carlo, let me wash your face. "

I come back to Kamran. Kamran, time to add all these ingredients together, butter to bananas, and then to flour. "How about this vanilla extract?" And we pour two drops. And then the surprise. "Kamran, I have a surprise for you". It was probably more for me than for him.

Kamran looks at the newly bought box of food colors: red, blue, green and yellow. "Choose your color", please.

He gives me the red color. " Look, the color is mixing. It is spreading. It is now red, just like blood, he exclaims."

Cindy reflects, "Yes, it is red like blood, but red also like Christmas."

And out of the blue he says, " Mom, you are now Prosy and I will call Prosy Mommy."

Enrique overhears and says " Kamran, you might be surprised with what you asked for." He chuckles, as if squishing out the joy in the interaction, or at least in my instant reaction.

And Cindy, ever so careful with her words, "Oh Kamran, if you do that, Enrique will miss Prosy. And Dad will miss me." Not taking anything from what Kamran's imagination has created, a fantasy of exchange of roles, but ultimately, paying me with the deepest, heartfelt compliment. He planted the seeds of joy in my heart. And I thank God for this moment!

Kamran, "how about some snacks?", I asked.

"Do you like some cheese?" He shakes his head.

"How about crackers?" He nods. "How about peanut butter?" He shakes his head.

Cindy asked him to sit at the table and offers him a glass of water. And I sit with him as well, joining him for a snack of crackers and peanut butter. "Kamran, I am enjoying my day with you", I told him.

Ever so self-assured, he just smiles at me. I think he is just used to hearing these positive statements from his mother and father.

When the muffins were done, I invited him to stay another hour to play with Andres. He politely says " I would love to do that. But, let us do that next time I am back, okay. I am tired now, and I want to rest. "

How could you say no to that? I told myself.

But it was not so much his comments, it was his demeanor, as if an adult so sensitive to others and how they might feel. So forthright and candid, not holding his feelings. He whispers to his mom, Cindy and says, " Shhh....shh..." And then, Cindy asked " Do you want to share that out loud?" " Mom, I want to buy Tita Prosy a dress. A princess cut dress." And then, he swishes his head to me and says " You will see how beautiful you are. "

My thanksgiving week has just started! I have to deliver to friends my husband's gourmet smoked turkey, gourmet as he prepares it so precisely, overnight brining, smoking for five hours till it reaches 160 F.

When we give the present our loving full attention, Kamran's swished magic appears again and again!

[1] This was inspired by the fire which ravaged NVM’s house on Nov. 19, 2005. Following that fire, I received wonderful reflections from Russell Leong, who did a documentary on NVM’s life, called “ A Story Yet to Be Told.”

His reflections on NVM’s house being ravaged:

It is 4:00 AM in the morning, and I'm trying to listen to NVM.

I am wondering what NVM would be thinking if he were alive. I just don't know. I don't know if he'd assign some religious meaning to this destruction, or not. Somehow, I cannot see him crying. Or for very long. I can see him shrugging his shoulders, and putting his hand in Narita's. And perhaps saying something like:

"Ah, the volcano has erupted and spared no-one. The God of Fire has reached our abode, Mama. None of us is immune, not even me. My words will, like the phoenix, rise out of the embers. You watch. But don't sit there and just wait.

Only you, my readers, only my readers will make my words rise.

Immortality is too much to ask. I only ask that you read my words, again and again. Now they are light, as Italo Calvino once said, words should be light, without burden, without the superfluous.

So there, you have nothing left but my words to confirm my experience, my life.

So there, my words are not set in stone, or carved in wood or written on papyrus.

My words are now fire: They are one with God who giveth and taketh away."



Sonu said...


this is amazing and i have learned a lot from your experiences. I love the second story about Ms. Carina.

also in the swish of life story, i think u made an error in the paragraph where u say

"Each visit with a special seed of grace each time"

i think It should be

"Each visit is with a seed of grace that is never missed"

Sonia Iyengar

P.S. I do have straight a's on my report card.

Sonu said...

I loved those last few words in "Swish of Life"
they were so good that you should probably make that your quote.
my former english teacher would love this story because it is something so descriptive and detailed.

Sonu said...

sonu is my nickname

Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. said...

Okay, Miss Sonia, I like those comments, I will make the changes..

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