I remember the day I almost lost Jun-jun. I was in eight grade and longed for Tatay’s attention. At four in the morning, I got up before Jun-jun could sound the morning wake up call. I barely slept the night before, thinking of ways to get rid of him or at least get Tatay’s attention away from him. Jun-jun could not cook rice or boil the coffee, but it was me who always got called useless around the house.
On the second Sunday that June, I planned to give Tatay a new wallet I’d bought at Novo. I’d spent all the money I saved up that summer from selling a bunch of buko to Angkol Nono, a buko juice vendor in front of Central Plaza, for ten pesos each. Since I went to Isulan National High School, Tatay always got mad at me for waking up late. He blamed my addiction to mobile games that kept me up at night and threatened to confiscate my phone. He didn’t like it that he had to boil the water for the native coffee and cook rice every morning.
Roosters started crowing from a distance. I opened our front door, lifting the three locks carefully not to make a sound. I checked outside. The dawn was already breaking and I smelled the cool and damp breeze. My nose itched and the next thing I knew, I was sneezing like crazy. I couldn’t make out where Jun-jun was until I saw his long, red curvy tail atop the lower branch of our Mango tree. He flapped his multicolored wings, shook his tiny head, and crowed his mighty battle cry that echoed through our house. Other roosters from our neighbor followed suit.
I looked for the kettle as I wiped my nose using the front of my shirt. I filled the kettle with tap water and brought it to the stove to boil and put four spoonful of native coffee from Kulaman. I put the jars of coco sugar and cream on our dining table for Nanay and Tatay. My head started to ache from the allergic rhinitis so I needed coffee myself.
I got the pako that Nanay brought from the market last night out from the refrigerator while I waited for the coffee to boil. I was about to prepare the scrambled egg with ampalaya when I heard the door from my parents’ bedroom open. Tatay still looked groggy and his bushy eyebrows were already meeting at the middle. He woke up on the wrong side of the bed, I suppose.
“Abaw. The señorito Toto is up early, ha,” he said in his hoarse voice. He went straight to the kitchen sink and drank water from the faucet using his hand. After that, he scrunched his nose. “Is that coffee?”