01 November 2010

An Old Man Buying Bukos

Yesterday morning, I was forced to look out the window because the barking of my poor old doggie meant somebody was at the gate. I initially regretted having done so, because the stranger at the gate had a gulok hanging from his waist.

Because he had already seen me, I really had no recourse but to open the door and go out to ask what he wanted.

As it turned out, he and his companion only wanted to know if I was willing to sell the coconuts hanging from the trees planted by my Dad so many years ago.

Dad, when he was alive, loved to stuff all sorts of things into the ground which, in hindsight, I now think, perhaps, he really shouldn’t have. Those little things, they have since grown into these tall trees that worry me no end whenever typhoon season comes.

The bukos, in particular, often make me jump when they fall off and drop into the ground. Ditto when the dry fronds hit the roof on their way to the ground.

The old man and his partner told me they had traveled all the way from Padre Garcia in their tiny tricycle looking for coconuts to convert into bukayô. These, in turn, they sell in the palengkes.

They get as far as San Jose in search of coconuts. The owners of coconut trees closer to home, they said, preferred to sell their bukos while still murâ, I reckon because of the sweet juice inside. Those they sought were the ones magulang already.

Not one to beat round the bush, the old man told he was willing to pay me 2 pesos for each buko. I opened my mouth to say something, but the old man, trying to stay ahead of me, cut me off immediately by saying he thought the bukos were too small, anyway…

I was actually going to say he could have them for free, since my neighbors occasionally ask to get some, anyway, and the ones that fall of only become basura. But I was not about to deny him the pleasure of thinking he had haggled me down…

Off went his companion with his long bamboo poles to pull down the bukos, and in no time at all, the old man had removed the husks from no less than 70 bukos. The way he expertly removed the husks using this tool that looked pretty much like an oversized arrowhead fascinated me no end.

I would have taken all day removing the husk from one buko, let alone 70! The two were remarkably honest when they counted the bukos before stuffing them into their plastic sack.

But then, I thought the old man looked smug when handing me 150 pesos and asking for a change of 10. I wonder if I looked just as smug…

For Lack of a Better Word




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