based on a true story
Ice-cream… I guess everyone loves it. No one could ever resist the taste of that sweet flavored frozen cream.
Each of us has that favorite flavor of ice-cream that we always crave for and of course, that doesn’t exempt me.
So what’s my favorite? It’s no other than the... “flavor of the road.”
I was still five and he was about forty when I first met him. He was the only ice-cream vendor in the street where I used to live in.
As the only child in the family, my mother is over-protective. She had disallowed me to eat anything bought in the streets. She said, “It’s dirty.”
But while walking home from school, my nanny decided to buy an ice-cream from him. He just smiled at us as he scooped some ice-cream from his ice-cream tank.
“Isn’t that dirty?” My nanny suddenly laughed after I whispered those words to her. I gave her my confused look. I didn’t know why she laughed.
“It’s what mama said, so why are you laughing,” I mumbled to myself.
As my nanny took the ice-cream she bought from his hand, I looked closely at it. It still looked like ice-cream…it didn’t look dirty.
I didn’t know what came into my mind that moment that I began to say, “Can I have some?”
Days, weeks, months, and years passed...it became my afternoon routine to buy ice-cream from him as I went home from school. He always greeted me with a smile as I gave him my five-peso payment.
“Oh! It’s still the best ice-cream,” I exclaimed as I eat it. He chuckled after hearing my words. “Of course, it is. I specially made it.”
I was amazed by what I heard. I couldn’t believe that he was the one who made such mouth-watering ice-cream.
I didn’t know how my face looked that moment, in awe of what he said, because he suddenly laughed.
“I need to make it deliciously for my children. This ice-cream is their only hope to finish in school.”
I became silent for a moment after hearing his words. I didn’t know how to react. His face was sad as he said that. It must have been hard on his part as the breadwinner of his family.
“You’re lucky to be in a family who can send you to school without having a hard time as much as I do,” he continued as he gave me a sly smile.
After that incident, I couldn’t help thinking about his family.
What were they eating? Were they able to get some good food with his earnings of the ice-cream today? Was he able to pay his children’s tuition fee in school?
Maybe he was right. I’m lucky, or shall I say blessed, to be in family that can provide my needs easily.
I wanted to help him. I wanted to help his family badly. But as a child, what could I do at that time? (Shrugs).
Well, I had this idea: I would buy more and more ice-cream from him so that every time he goes home, he’ll have much money. Quite childish, isn’t it? Haha!
So, as planned, I did that. I bought more than one ice-cream from him in a day. I didn’t care if I was going to have diabetes…I guess, that’s how brave a child can be.
Aside from buying his ice-cream, I also got to talk with him more. He even told me that when he was still young, he wanted to become a police officer and catch those evil people in our society.
But unfortunately, he married at an early age, stopped schooling, and eventually became an ice-cream street vendor for almost ten years, at that time.
He also said that being an ice-cream vendor was not easy.
He had to sleep late in the evening, preparing the ice-cream, and wake up early in the morning to sell everything from that ice-cream tank.
While selling his ice-cream, big dangerous trucks that pass by the streets awaits him.
“That’s dangerous,” I exclaimed, worrying for him, but he just smiled. “I’m used to it. I survived that kind of life for ten years now, kid.”
I couldn’t imagine the kind of life he had and the struggles he was facing everyday.
“I wish my life wouldn’t be like that when I grow old,” that was what I thought at the back of my mind that moment.
As far as I could remember, that was the last conversation we had. He suddenly stopped selling ice-cream.
To be honest, I was kind of pissed at him. He was gone without words. I thought he was my friend. I even found myself crying, missing the taste of his special ice-cream…you know, child stuff.
A year passed and some news came to me. I was frozen by what I heard.
“Is that true? No! It’s not! It can’t be! I’m not buying it.” That was my reaction inside my mind after hearing the conversation of his co-street food vendors in our place.
At first, I didn’t want to believe it. But it’s the truth…I should accept that he’s dead. He died because of tuberculosis. Now, I get it. Now, I know why he suddenly left.
The ice-cream vendor who sells my favorite flavor of the road is now gone…for good.
“Special ice-cream, ma’am, sir!” A man suddenly shouted.
It’s been four years after he died. Nobody in our place dared to replace him…of course, it’s because his ice-cream is irreplaceable.
“You want some ice-cream, miss?” I wanted to reject his offer, but something was telling me to buy some.
So I took a five-peso coin and gave it to him. As he was scooping my ice-cream, I looked at him carefully. He looked so familiar.
“Here,” as he handed me the ice-cream.
I took the ice-cream and started eating it. To my amazement, it tasted exactly the same as the ice-cream Noy Simon sells.
And that moment, I realized, that guy...
He is his son.