A young girl stood in front of a door, which never opened for a long time. The girl was hungry for compliments and thirsty for conversations. When her longing eventually turned into resentment, the girl picked up a hammer and nailed the door shut and left crying.
I was my dad’s favourite when I was young. My dad used to work at Quezon City Hall and my mom would fondly recall him coming home at lunch for me when I was still an infant. When I was old enough to remember, my father took me on a work trip in Baguio and finished a whole roll of film only taking my pictures.
However, our relationship went south when I was in high school and it has been years since we really talked. Right now, I would say that our relationship is like the mutual ceasefire between the two Koreas. Still, it is a war waiting to happen if one broke the truce.
However, there is one incident that I really felt my father’s love. Since I was young, whenever I am sick, noodles is my food of choice. On the day of birth of my son, my dad prepared a rather bizarre sopas (the Filipino version of chicken noodle soup) for me. This sopas is different from my mom’s version that my siblings and I grew up eating. First, its colour is pink as if Pepto-Bismol is a secret ingredient.
Despite being suspiciously pink in colour, the soup is so rich and comforting as if telling me that I did a good job pushing another human being out to this world. Then, I slurped the spaghetti that keeps sliding off my spoon.
All other ingredients were cut even smaller – the hand-shredded chicken meat, the cubed boiled egg, the mirepoix-ed vegetables – making it easier to eat, perfect for an exhausted new mom.
My dad didn’t say anything to me that day (not that I expected him to) but I almost wanted to cry eating this dish, seeing that it has been prepared rather carefully. I later learned that he quietly cooked the sopas in our dingy kitchen and told my mom to feed it to me. My dad was not living with us when my son was born and no one knew why he decided to drop by. He probably wanted to make sure his little girl was okay or to see the face of his grandson that slightly resembles both his and mine. His grandchild’s first cry conveyed all the stories and words we were never been able to express.
The young girl took out the sharp nails she had driven a long time ago and found that the door was stained with blood. She pushed the door and it opened lightly and weakly. On the other side of the door is her shy father, tired and wrinkled. Far from the young, jovial and strong person she once knew.
The girl finally realized that while the door never opened, it was never locked until she nailed it shut.
They say that fathers will always adore their daughters. He may be oblivious to this but the chicken and egg in this bizarre dish are a perfect representation of parent and child. It was the first and last time that I have eaten that sopas, but it sure did taste like my father’s love.
Happy 60th birthday, Pa!
Sopas na pink recipe:
- 1 litre of water
- Chicken thigh and leg
- 1 boiled egg
- 1 bouillon cube (chicken flavour)
- 1 small can of evaporated milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
How to cook:
- Boil the chicken until tender. Remove from bone and shred the meat by hand.
- Break spaghetti pasta into quarters and boil in the chicken broth.
- Add the hotdogs and chicken.
- Add the cabbage and carrots. Then add the bouillon cube.
- Let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Then add the evaporated milk.
- Smush the yolk of the boiled egg and mix in the soup. Cubed the white part and add it as a topping.
- Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
Happy happy birthday to your dad, but even a happier birthday to you for rediscovering your dad’s love, just when you became a mom. The use of chicken and egg here is bullseye. For now the question is begged, who loved first, the chicken or the egg? Who loved unceasingly? The chicken or you, the egg. Shut in your shell. But no more. Hugs.