grabs my nose and I go "boink boink" like I did with my son
many years ago. The baby giggles and grabs my whiskers. I go
"ouch ouch" and I'm not kidding. The baby giggles and the kids
laugh. One of them hands me Pig-wig. He has no nappy and I'm
I ask about
Midi, the wife. "Upstairs ironing," Titoy says. I take my note
book and beer upstairs and sit at the end of a pedal operated
sewing machine. Midi is in the next room using a heavy metal
iron heated by coconut charcoal. She says it burns slowly. The
windows are open and there is a faint sea breeze that doesn't
quite get rid of the smoke. I rub my eyes and start writing.
boy comes up with another beer and a couple of barbecue sticks.
I continue writing. Then someone calls that dinner is
the table seats seven so the kids take turns. No particular
pecking order - those that are hungry get in first, the rest
wait. Midi is still upstairs ironing. Titoy sits at the head of
the table. I sit at his right. He grabs a fistful of rice and
dumps it on his plate. Then another. Not all of it makes the
trip and the table is soon littered with rice. Pieces of fried
chicken join the rice and it's fingers from then on.
The kids hoe
in. Some use fingers, others a fork or a spoon. All eat with
mouths open; talk with mouths full. The noise is like a suction
pump with leaky valves. I stare hard at my plate and try not to
look up. A kid takes his plate to the TV room. Another kid
takes his place.
The food is
basic: plain rice, fried chicken overcooked and dry, and some
very tasty kilawin-marinated raw fish chopped and mixed with
onions, ginger, lemon, and coconut milk. Titoy gets me another
beer. The baby crawls to the table. He still has no nappy.
Titoy picks him up and holds him over the table. I hope the kid
isn't loaded. I eat slowly and am last to finish. One of the
kids has already started with the dishes.