He wasn’t even surprised when I walked into the hospital cafeteria and plunked down beside him, panting. I scoured two wings in search of him after I arrived in his room and found his bed empty. He nodded as if he has been expecting the very minute of my arrival, then continued eating heartily, like nothing happened.
Then again, I told him yesterday that I will be visiting tonight, and his mind has always been keen and sharp, probably always will be. He absorbed information, remembering virtually everything of importance. A few years back I talked back to him and he remembers my protest in verbatim, something about me wanting to go to law school instead of pursuing a career in medicine.
This afternoon, I asked him for the first time to tell me about the Japanese occupation and how he met my grandmother. He seemed startled, probably wondering what has gotten into me. See, his stories were always volunteered, never asked for. With the occasional chuckle here and there, he told me anecdotes on life and love and existence and death, his throaty baritone sending echoes through the otherwise empty halls.
A perpetual state of evening. I found it ironic that a memorial hospital for war veterans, where everybody is now on a fight for a little more time, has no sense of it whatsoever. The hours passed slowly, sneaking away from notice, as if allowing everyone to revel in the greatest badge there is — the years left to them.