Waking up heavy-headed on a weekend, I took a long shower and fixed myself a no-sugar coffee. It was almost noon and the temperature in my room began to rise. I needed to go someplace colder to nurse my throbbing head and besides I have a writing deadline to meet. After two cups of coffee, two paracetamol, and no mood for breakfast, I started off to E-Mall and bought some apples on the way.
By sheer habit, I went straight to the Booksale Shop at the mall’s top floor. Looking at titles of books relaxes me. I took my time around with books and got lucky to find the Biography of Truman Capote and If You Really Want To Hear About It, which is the book compilation of excellent articles on J.D. Salinger’s reclusiveness. I paid the counter for the books, a pen, and a Sun Star Newspaper. I settled myself to a coffee shop nearby, ordered another cup of brewed coffee, and began reading. I scanned the pages of the Sun Star first, read its Sports section and the Weekend features.
At another table was a middle age woman with an enormous black bag on her table. I was reading a featured article when she called out to me and asked, with no introductions and all, if I finished reading the paper. I said not yet Ma’am and if she can wait a little I’ll lend to her the paper. I thought that was it and she understood but she can’t simply wait and kept interrupting me in my reading, asking me if the lotto is won yet. I tried to be polite and told her I don’t know Ma’am and it may be in these pages somewhere. But frankly I got little idea of what she’s talking about. Yet the woman can’t just keep still. She must be bored or something, talking to me at another table of things I couldn’t make out. She asked me again if I am finished yet. My migraine got worst. Why can’t you buy your own newspaper? This only costs 10 pesos for goodness’ sake, I said to myself. I gave to her the paper and read the book on J.D. Salinger instead.
Some minutes elapsed. The woman was engrossed on her reading as I was on mine when another woman came to her table. They talked aloud like they own the place, or the whole mall for that matter. I paid no attention and resumed my reading when the first woman got up, gave the newspaper to her friend and went away. I was expecting a thank you but that was the least of my concern. I was at a loss as I was yet to read the opinion section. I was in a queer position and it would be hard to explain to the second woman that the paper is actually mine and can I have it back after she is through with it. But I saved myself the trouble and let her be, wishing them both a nice day or something.
Moments later, a man in a yellow bingo game uniform came to the second woman and told her something. The woman replied agitatedly with an unhappy face. She got up and both of them went inside the bingo place. With her is my newspaper.