Kumain ka na ba?

If she did not notice me eating supper before I left for work, my mother would ask on my way out, “Kumain ka na ba? (Have you already eaten?)”

Often, I would grunt that I’ll be eating in the office instead. Or not answer at all. More often than not, I am already in a hurry when I go out of the house and do not welcome the last minute question which causes me to momentarily pause and consider if I should answer or not.

She means well, of course. A caring parent would want to make sure that her child gets to eat properly, nevermind if that child is already an adult in his thirties. However, a lot of the things that we do well-meaningly are also a little misplaced and do not contribute to anything beneficial.

I can already feed myself. That’s why I work in a job, actually, so I can feed myself. Wondering about my well-being based on whether I have eaten or not at that given moment seem a little superficial. So what if I have not yet eaten? Should I go back inside and tuck in some supper so she would be relieved that her son isn’t starving?

And not commenting on the obvious (I think) fact that I am, at that moment, in a hurry. That an interruption can cause considerable delay to my travel time. But then, my mother had been self-employed all her life. She did not have to worry about coming to work on time, only in ensuring a dress gets finished on a particular day. My mother is a product of a background and a generation whose values are considerably different from mine.

I wish she’d call out “Ingat!” when I go out of the house, instead. Wishing someone “Ingat” shows understanding of a situation as well as appropriate concern for a person’s safety. I think of these things now and get a guilty feeling for not appreciating parental concern. The moral dilemmas from being raised in an Asian family while adopting a mostly-Western worldview sucks.

At the Slaughterhouse District, Baguio

I tell myself that these selfish, petty aggravations will go away once I move out again. Except that I will not be moving out of my parents’ house anytime soon. So better keep your mouth shut, Jade. Next time my mom asks “Kumain ka na ba?” I will try to smile, keep quite, and close the gate carefully behind me.

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