LOOK. That’s where my Japanese friend Noki rented something to wear for his wedding yesterday.
This is Harry speaking. Our neighbor drives a taxi. I occasionally ride with him.
Behind the culverts and the dust rising like steam from the unfinished road, a rectangle of glass showcases smudges, a reflection of scurrying workers, and two gowns cut from some shiny cloth that sticks out.
Is this the same Noki who lost more than a million pesos in a barbecue venture last year?
Harry says yes. Harry became a wedding sponsor. Noki also invited the manager of the beach club where he swims daily. He wanted many sponsors, many witnesses.
Poor man, Harry muses. He never really believed he would be allowed to marry.
Which one did he finally settle down with? I remembered someone a few years back. Noki gave her a cellphone but her parents, I think, made her return the phone because it was a secondhand one. This model also did not take pictures.
Harry says Noki’s Fay is 18, a high school graduate. She is the second eldest of a man who sells dirty ice cream. Sometimes, he’s allowed to sell to club guests. That’s how he met Noki.
I think Fay’s parents made a very good deal. Harry slows down to let a gaggle of zone workers cross.
Noki visited many times the home of the dirty ice-cream vendor. He met all 12 children and Fay’s mother, always nursing a baby, which may or may not have been the youngest. Harry swears that he has never seen this woman not pregnant or not nursing. Fay was still in her high school uniform then.
Noki always left something for the family because he pitied the younger children who sometimes had no underpants.
Fay didn’t figure in the equation yet, Harry insists. Noki then was seeing a 17-year-old department store clerk who lied about her real age. Another girl Noki was keen on also maintained a Korean. She chose that fellow when Noki’s barbecue business went kaput. Fay’s mother had been working as a cashier there for a week.
Harry believes Noki would not have been desperate to get married had his father not died. As his other brother lived far from the Chiba home, Noki worried about his 80-year-old mother living alone. He had to close his Tokyo photoshop so he could go home and drive her around. Finally, he drove to Narita airport, left his car there, and flew back to Cebu with no intention of returning without a wife to take care of his mother.
That was weeks ago. Once, Noki speculated to Harry how much his car park fees could now be while they waited for an official who demanded P5,000 to issue the marriage permit. Harry advised Noki not to bother about car park fees.
Harry knew his friend shelled out P16,000 for the priest, chapel and the waiver of wedding bans. Noki gave P100,000 to Fay’s father for the reception at their home. Noki’s father-in-law, who is, at 41, the same age as his son-in-law, asked an additional P50,000 to buy forks, spoons, plates, chairs, curtains and electric fans for the barrio that, invited or not, would surely flock. More witnesses, Noki tells Harry.
The day before his wedding, Noki remembered he had nothing to wear. Then Harry saw the roadside place renting out wedding costumes.
After the wedding, while boarding Harry’s taxi, the right heel of Noki’s rented shoes fell off. “Shoe, why? Why?” Harry remembers Noki murmuring.
Harry drove the newlyweds to a nearby gas station, where he glued back the heel with a tube of Mighty Bond.
Then the wedding broker/ wedding sponsor/ bridal car chauffeur drove Noki and Noki’s bride to the house Noki dressed up for the wedding feast Noki held in honor of the day he could fly back to Narita, redeem his car and bring home a bride for his mother, widowed and alone in Chiba.
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* Published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Mar. 11, 2007 issue