Pan de Sal

Pan de Sal

The bakery near our house sold pandesal from 2AM to 2PM. The smell of freshly baked bread wafted through my bedroom window all the time. I think everything in my room smelled like pandesal, and quite honestly, I didn’t mind.

I work the graveyard shift so I get home around 2AM. The person who owned the bakeshop is a chatty and boorish old woman who talked non-stop about her husband who left her . I would buy 5 pieces from her every morning. While she shoves the pandesal roughly in the bags with tongs, I hear the same story over and over again.

“He went abroad and one day he stopped sending me money! I found out he had a mistress! That sonofabitch. Please don’t be like that iho.” I laughed every single time.

Today, I am surprised, it wasn’t her who was manning the bakery but her daughter. I am guessing she’s around 20 years old. Unlike her mother, she was quiet and kept to herself. She was gentle and demure in everything she does, from taking the pandesal from the trays to placing them inside the paper bags. Even the way she counts my change was so ladylike. I was so enthralled by her presence, I keep wishing I can buy all the bread they have in display just so I have an excuse to stay longer.

For one whole week, she stayed in the bakeshop. We never talked. Only exchanged smiles. Sometimes, I would buy other useless things like bottled water and muster the courage to ask for her name, but it never happened. She would hand me the bag, her hands so delicate looking, I wanted to kiss them. She would walk back near a stack of cartons, sit on a plastic chair and read a newspaper. The next day, I told myself I will ask for her name.

But she wasn’t there the next day. Her mom was arranging some loaves on the display cabinet.

“Is your daughter here?” She saw me and waved her hand.

“She went back to the province. She was just here for a couple of days to help me. I was sick. What can I get you?”I got my usual and walked home.

When I got to my room, the smell of pandesal greeted me. I shut the windows hurriedly.

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