“This photo of you, will travel around the world.”
I was in the Philippines then. These were the words, I recalled roughly four decades ago. I was only ten when my mom asked me to buy some bananas from a nearby *Sari-Sari store, right across where we lived. (*A sari-sari store , or neighborhood variety store, is a convenience store found in the Philippines. The word sari-sari is a Tagalog term meaning “variety”. Such stores form an important economic and social location in a Filipino community. It is present in almost all neighborhoods, sometimes even on every street.” Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sari-sari_store )
It was 9:00 o’ clock, one bright sunny Monday morning. I just finished my breakfast, and I was preparing my school bag when my mom said, ” Can you please buy some bananas before you head out for school?”
Without saying any word, I grabbed the money from my mom’s hand and rushed to the door. I was wearing an old slippers and in a hurried pace, with my quick small steps, I ran across the street. I wasn’t paying attention to motorcycles and jeepneys honking, I just crossed without turning my head either left or right. I heard a driver yelling at me but I just continued running. I finally got to the sari sari store, and I got the bananas in my hand.
I was about to cross the street when I heard a deep voice asking me to stop. I turned around, and I saw these two white people. A man and a woman. I think they were couple. The man had a camera and asked me to pose for a picture. I didn’t know what to say, I just looked at them puzzled.
“Don’t be scared, it will be okay. We just want you to pose for us, holding that banana, and I will take a picture of you,” the man said. “This photo of you will travel around the world,” as he went on to tell me. I can’t remember if they spoke to me in English or in my dialect. How come I recalled this dialogue? Anyway.
I tried to ease myself and gave a sweet smile, as I posed for them to capture a photo of me. I heard the snap shot sound of the shutter button. They gave me a hug and said “Thank you, and be careful.” I smiled back at them without saying any word and ran as fast as I could with excitement. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom about what happened. This time, I forgot about school. All I can remember is to tell my mom about the two white couple I met at the sari sari store.
As soon as I entered the doorway, I saw my mom washing dishes in the kitchen sink; and I told my her about my encounter. To her surprise, she immediately told me, “Now, you are travelling around the world, only that your picture goes ahead of you,” then she laughed. I looked at my mom puzzled
I can’t figure out at that time, why my mom laughed. I began to realize as I grew older, she was probably thinking that because we are poor, I can’t have a chance travel. Well, at least, my photo traveled ahead of me… as what my mom said.
Now I realized that, I haven’t really traveled around the world, except that I traveled from the Philippines to the US.
This recollection about my encounter with those two white people, (I can only call them white because I am not sure about their nationality) kept coming back to my memory and I question myself, “What if I will meet them again and they will show me that picture they took of me?”
Right, I want to meet them again. But I don’t know them! Are they still living? I want to see that photo of me holding bananas… I want to meet those couple. Question is… When? How? Where in the world did I travel, by the way?
And oh… one more thing, I kind of see something similar to Sari-sari stores in New York, and they call it, Deli Store 😉
This question, still haunts me… ” Where in the world did I travel?”