I am here now in Alabang, enjoying the quiet of an empty house. The tenants left two weeks ago but I have not been able to come, except to do an inventory and accept the keys from them on their last day, and very briefly last Saturday just to water the plants. Today, I brought the driver/maintenance man, a houseboy and a maid to help clean and make it attractive for prospective tenants who may come to check out the house next week.
The electric fan is not even turned on, but nature provides the breeze that I need to be comfortable. I sit at the dining table trying to write about this feeling of gladness to be here. The sounds I hear are sounds of a quiet life – the neighbors’ little boys playing basketball, the driver scraping off stubborn epoxy from the kitchen sink (I did not like that orange epoxy was spread all over the rim of the stainless steel sink – it was that way when we bought the house and never found time to fix it until now), the houseboy plucking dead, dried leaves from betel nut trees at the front yard, and the maid moving the aluminum ladder as she moves around in a methodical manner, dusting the windows and furniture.
Just for comparison, over in Makati where we live and work in the same house/building, the cacophony of sounds that predominate are those of buses and cars that run on our busy Bautista street – the street that our house directly faces, without benefit of a front yard to serve as “buffer” or “sound barrier” - and the constant ringing of phones interspersed with someone’s insistent voice on hurried paging announcements. Add to this auditory cocktail the stillness of the stagnant air, trapped within the confines of each of the rooms, artificially brought to a comfortable level by almost 24-hour air-conditioning.
I am not asking for the pristine air of the mountains or the sea. I know that Alabang is not an idyllic rural paradise. Once in a while, but thankfully not too often, the purr and spurts from motorcycles of men who come to deliver pizzas or provide maintenance service to us or our neighbors compete with muffled but nevertheless revving engines of neighbors’ cars negotiating the rise in elevation of our slightly hilly street. So I know I am not in dreamland and that I am not too far from the city.
All that I am wishing for, really, is some suburban breeze – that rhythmically weaves in and out of trees and into the house to provide me with a natural balm from the tropical heat, and as an additional treat, brings in the music it creates by rustling leaves. Today’s slightly active breeze undeniably resonates with my heart’s longing for quietude and comfort in a home.
Naturally, even if only for a day.