Funny how my sense of smell moves me. Scents always have this uncanny way of stirring up memories in my head. Today I chanced upon a wooden-carved fan that I own and which smelled of sandalwood.
Suddenly, my memories took me back to younger days.
I remember when I was a child, I used to trudge along with my maternal grandmother on her trips across the country. Lola Susing, as we fondly called her, was a viajera, a comprador. She would go to the far end of Zamboanga to buy all kinds of wares that there was to sell: clothes, shampoo, toothpaste (are you familiar with Maxam?), tsinelas, make-up, bed sheets, linen and more. I vaguely recall soaps and scents of rose and sandalwood. Zamboanga, then (and even until now I hear), was the entry port of several goods into the country- some were legit, some just smuggled in.
I guess Maxam has been replaced by some other brands now. And many more items have slowly found their way into the country this way- automobiles, motorbikes or what-have-you's..
My enterprising grandma would then do the rounds of Mindanao and the Visayan shores, peddling her wares and earning a small profit in the offing. As you can see, this aimless wanderer had a fairly early start with the travelling thingy. It's a little disconcerting to realize however that the trade and barter skills didn't quite rub off on me.
With Lola Susing, it was never the money that made her do what she did, I guess. Sure, her earnings helped augment my Lolo Francis' salary to feed a family of five...families.. ( you see, they've got grown-up kids who's got growing kids, too). Uhm, and that would be us. We grandkids would get a new blouse or new shorts or new tsinelas every now and then. But she never got rich. Not the got-millions-in-the-bank kinda rich, I mean. But we sure had a comfortable and sensible life. We grew up being taught the motto of leading a simple yet sensible life.
But in all my trips and adventures accompanying her on her jaunts, I saw her become alive when she was doing her haggling and selling. There was a certain glint in her eyes whenever she made 'the sale'. And I think it was the thrill of interacting with different people, some of them complete strangers, and then being able to convince them to buy that really made her day. She was good with people. She would even give good bargains, too. "A sensible buy, a sensible buy", she would say.
So, in celebration of grandparents day on Sunday, I write in remembrance of my granny.
Lola Susing, she sure made life a little bit sweeter every time.