THAT SUNDAY being my two elder boys' last day with us before they fly back to the university, we decided, after church, to eat out--in a new diner perhaps. We drove to Little Dubai, but the place was reserved for the night for some alumni homecoming. So hubby said let's hie off somewhere else. My sense of direction fades with the twilight, so I didn't know where the car steered off.
We soon parked in front of a classy diner. The Little Kitchen, the sign said. I immediately liked it. I liked the facade, the fancy grills. I liked the homey ambiance, especially once we were inside. I liked the blue-topped tables and the low-backed chairs. Yeah, the place was small. The interior could accommodate at most twenty-five people, seated. And probably, once it's full, the room would feel cramped. Can the aircon handle such a big crowd?
Inside we came upon familiar faces, the Calderons, already halfway with their dinner. I sometimes go to Dr. Dina for facial treatment. And the Calderons were my neighbors when I was seven. They lived next door...the doctors. I remember they had a small bakeshop, too, that smelled good all day, particularly in the early mornings. I could almost smell their pandesal that very moment...fresh from my childhood memories.
While waiting for our orders, my eyes wandered. The interior decor was simple, neat...minimalist. I so loved the Christmas-colored votive candles hanging on the wall, cupped by the wrought candleholder. The al fresco area just outside the door...wonderful! My eyes panning back to the main door,(is it called french door?), darting across the street, I thought the scenery outside was familiar. Isn't that...my late aunt's...night spot? The old beer garden called Rudestell? Am I where I think I really am? In my old house back when I was a first grader? I felt a bolt of deja vu hitting me in the heart. Just to be sure, I asked hubby, where are we...isn't that...outside...what I think it is??? We're in Quirino!
Nostalgia washed over me. The Little Kitchen is standing where the Magpantay residence used to be! I used to live here, in this very spot...and this very spot where I was seated with my family...used to be the living room.
We were renting one of the upstairs room, and below it were sort of basement rooms. Our room was little, and it housed the five of us: My parents and my siblings and me (our youngest was Amel then). We were new in the city, having moved from Marbel and from two other houses in so short a span of time. And yes, the Calderons were our next-door neighbors. I knew about them because I would often hear my mother mention the name to us...probably whenever one of us got sick, or no, I'm sure it was whenever she'd send me or one of my brothers to go buy pandesal.
I remember we had to move out of the house sometime after, to live in an apartment. And I was so sad and blue when we got to our new house because I left my dining set toys in one of the closets at the Magpantays'. So every time I'd pass by this place, I'd always wonder what had happened to my dinner set toys.
Well, the house I was seeing in my mind is no more. What is there is a totally different structure. Modern, commercial, a restaurant (!) ...but still very homey inside. Just like the old times.
I vowed to go back there again, and next time, I would concentrate on--and blog about--the food, as others do, rather than muse on some childhood reminiscence. And take pictures...lots of it. Yeah, the food was good. But I had no time to really focus on the menu. But one thing I know, my boys loved the food and asked to be taken there for dinner again someday. So, Little Kitchen, till we meet again.