You are on page 1of 7

With

a Love Like That, You Know You Should be Glad


By Midge K. Manlapig

It was a Monday night. Hell, why wouldnt it be a Monday night? Mondays were the
only time they ever saw each other, apart from those occasional meetings or gigs away
from the usual stomping grounds.

Looking at them, however, I wondered how it was that they managed to deal

with each other every single day for the better part of three years. Ive managed to
piece together an idea of how things were between them long ago, mostly from the
stories either would tell. But its not a complete picture; Ive never seen the complete
picture.

All I know at this point is that they met in school, at college. Theyre the same

age, only she was three months older and a year ahead. Not that it ever mattered,
really; in between classes, they read the same books and mostly listened to the same
music. Thats what I gathered, anyway.

Well, again: it was a Monday night. When we got to the pub, she was already

there. She was always there early despite the fact that she worked in the Global City
and the traffic was horrendous.

She was already there and, true to form, was sipping a Cerveza Negra and

nibbling through a plate full of tapas. Portuguese coxinhas this time, if my eyes didnt
deceive me as I peered through the front window.

Hed seen her. He smirked as he pushed the door open and cheerfully called

out, Mog, youre bloody early and youre leaving bloody early again, Ill bet!

Imogen Moggie to everyone merely raised an eyebrow at this callous

greeting and wordlessly took a sip of her beer. But she tilted up her face for the kiss she
knew was forthcoming and it was loudly smacked on her cheek.

Not that it matters to him if I leave early or not, she muttered to me as I went

over for a quick hug hello.


I grinned at her, but didnt trust myself enough to say something about the time

when I awoke in the middle of the night and found my flatmate wide awake and curled

up on the couch, listlessly rereading a story shed written and posted online. Nick was
like that: callous and careless and cocky in public, but painfully pensive and vulnerable
whenever he thought he was alone. I wonder if shed ever seen that side of him.

He boldly forked up one of the croquettes on the plate before her without asking

her permission, shoved it into his mouth in one go. She said nothing, but hailed a
passing waitress and ordered more food.

What would you boys like? she asked.

Oh, a sandwich will be fine, Mog, I assured her, knowing she would order

something more substantial anyway. She always said Nick and I needed fattening up.

She rolled her eyes at my request. Then, she turned to Nick who was gobbling

up her coxinhas with impunity and they went over the menu. Watching them was like
seeing my parents ordering at a restaurant. Not so surprising; my folks were just a little
older than they were, having gotten hitched earlier than they expected.

She peered worriedly at Nicks face. Nick, you see, is as pale as a sheet and looks

about half-asleep most of the time. Hes been through a lot; I know this because Ive
been a fan of his for ages. Hes been through a lot and this has pretty much affected his
health. Not that he says anything about it, of course.

Im getting beef, Mog declared decisively after studying the pallor on Nicks

face for a good five minutes. I dont like how pale you are right now.

You mean theres actually a time when you like how pale I am? he asked, a

little amused.

But she doesnt answer him. Instead, she turns to me. Kenneth, has his

insomnia been acting up? she asks.


I look over to Nick. The glare he throws at me pretty much says Im sunk when

we get home. Knowing him, however, hell forget about it by the time the gig ends and
we wearily crash home.

Well, he does stay up late, I reply carefully. I dont know about his insomnia,

though.

Its his turn to raise an eyebrow, but the glare has softened into a look of

gratitude. She wont tear into him; she wont dig deeper. Of course, her expression
speaks otherwise, but she wont speak of the matter again unless its totally necessary.

She tells the waitress to get an order of salpicao and a plate of grilled salmon

with garlic sauce. If Nick hadnt looked as haggard as he did on that evening, wed have
been fine with a four-cheese pizza. But Moggie was worried; she didnt like it when Nick
looked tired. I think alarm bells go off in her head whenever she sees him looking paler
than usual.

Another waitress stops by the table, placing bottles of pale pilsen before me and

Nick. He takes a quick swig of his beer before Moggie says anything. But shes busy
writing something in a small notebook; not surprising as she writes for a living.

Nicks expression softens from cheeky to gentle as he transfers to the bench to

sit beside her.


How was your day? he asks her.

So-so, she replies, not looking up from her writing. But she puts down the pen

and sits back, wearily closing her eyes. Nick regards her worriedly. They talk a lot online
in the daytime; its like they keep each other company even virtually. I think she didnt
say something to him earlier that day.

You look tired, he says.

I am tired, she replies, eyes kept closed. What with the traffic and my crazy

boss acting crazier than usual, Im all in. She opened her eyes and smiled sadly at him.
I was actually thinking of giving tonight a miss, you know. Only, I was already on the
shuttle to Makati when I thought of that.

He said nothing. But he took her hand and kissed the back of it before leaning

his head on her shoulder.


You went home to your mum and dad over the weekend, she said. It was a

statement, not a question.


He nodded. Havent been home for a couple of weeks, you know, he said. He

grinned cheekily at me. And Ken and I were getting on each others nerves, so we both

went homeward bound. But he grew serious again. Mog, weve talked about this.
When are you going into business for yourself? I dont see you spending the rest of your
life building up other peoples brands while ignoring your own.

She turns to him, a stricken look on her face. I think this was one of the things

that have kept them walking on eggshells around each other. She has chronic fatigue
syndrome; shes worn out and torched out. Hes mentioned this to me time and again;
and he worries. He never tells her to her face that he does worry, but he does.

I can tell, however, shes trying to put a brave face on it. Im okay, she tells

him, resting a hand on his arm. She manages a very small smile. Ill manage. Oh, and
another thing
She rummages for something in that Union Jack knapsack of hers and I sit up
straight, knowing full well that if shes rummaging through it, theres a treat or two
in store. She places a large tub of what appear to be chocolate cookies on the table.
But, when she opens it, they turn out to be chocolate discs topped with nuts and what I
believe to be dried fruit. Here you go.

Mendiants! Nick exclaims, quickly pouncing upon the treat.

Mend-whats? I ask, the word being unfamiliar to me.

Mendiants, Moggie replies with a smile. French chocolate discs with fruit and

nuts. These have cashews, macadamias, bits of dried mango, and dried pineapple.

Her tone is proud as she explains what shes given to us, and rightly so. Moggie

bakes her own bread and pizzas; she feeds us cookies and cake and homemade candy.
Nick complains that he doesnt really like sweets and that she doesnt have to bring
something for us every Monday. But Ill be damned if he doesnt scarf down every
single treat shes ever thrown his way.

Your cooking has come a long way, Mog, Nick declares around a mouthful of

dark chocolate. He turns to me, jerking a thumb at her. When we were kids, she
baked a batch of what were supposed to be chocolate crinkles. Punyeta, the damned
things were hard as rocks and I nearly broke a couple molars trying to eat them. He
yelped; I suppose she kicked him under the table because she was glaring at him.

What? he exclaimed, staring mirthfully at her. Its true: you were a damned bad cook
when we were kids! He reached for another mendiant. Thank God, youve improved
over time.

Ill bet Im a better cook than you are, she snapped back waspishly, for all that

you happen to be the culinary arts major.


Im out of practice, he retorts airily.

I dont think you ever practice, Nicky. Youre so caught up in your music you

sometimes forget to feed yourself!


He winces at this because its true. I cant remember how many times his

mother has called our flat to check if hes had anything to eat. When Nicks gone into
composition mode, he completely forgets everything. He gets lost in his music. A good
thing for the artist; a potential disaster for the man.

Bullshit, he grunts, pretending to be callous. (You can tell: he doesnt blush

when hes seriously callous. Even in the dim light of the pub, you could see the ribbon
of pink running across his face.)

Ill take your word for it, Moggie says with a shrug. But she clinks bottles with

him, anyway. Still, she looks a little sad. I do wish youd take better care of yourself,
Nicholas.

I look up sharply at this and see a stricken look on his face. He opens his mouth

to say something, but nothing comes out. He sighs and quietly excuses himself to go
outside.

Is he all right? Moggie demands soon as Nick is outside.

He was still awake when I woke at two AM to hit the john, I reply meekly. He

looked worried about something and he sat up reading all night. I decided not to tell
her what he was reading. Instead, Maybe hes thinking of a new album concept or
something.

That man, she declared in a long-suffering tone, needs someone to take care

of him. It doesnt help matters that we can see Nick through the front window. There
are a number of girls around him; the usual groupies who show up at the bar on

Monday nights. Fangirls. Working acquaintances of Nicks, mostly from our label.
Moggies expression looks cold, even flinty. But theres a sadness in her eyes, a
loneliness; a longing.

You know, Ken, she says, her expression unreadable. We can barely take care

of ourselves individually. But if he asked me to, Id take care of him.


And hed look out for you, I thought sympathetically. I remembered one night

when Nick woke up screaming from a nightmare and he managed to blurt out that he
dreamt that Moggie had gone away without telling him and he couldnt find her

Damn it, Nick! Youre shaking!

Shes gone, Ken! Shes gone!

Whos gone, Nick?

Moggie And the tears had come so easily to a man who was such an expert

at hiding his feelings. Its Moggie, Ken. Shes gone. Shes left me. Shes had enough

My mind kept running towards that old Beatles song, the one with the line: with

a love like that, you know you should be glad. I wondered why Nick insisted on staying
as blind to the fact that Moggie obviously loved him. I mean, really: the woman worried
herself sick over him. The look on her face as she watched him talk and laugh with
those other girls spoke volumes. She was jealous; she wanted to fight someone for him.
But there was an air of defeat about her person.

I cant compete with all that, she remarked quietly, noting that Id been silently

observing her. She shook her head, chuckling ruefully as she did. Im not as pretty nor
as perky nor as bubbly. I cant compete with all that.

I looked at her, then returned my gaze towards all those bubbly girls outside.

Sure, they were pretty but pretty girls are a dime a dozen these days (and, really: you
cant even be sure if theyre even real girls!) Sure, they were bubbly but you just
couldnt talk I mean properly talk to any of them.

I cant relate in detail what happened next. All I remember is excusing myself

from the table to do my set. By this time, the pub was already full-up. I dont know
what got into me. But I saw red when I saw the sadness in Moggies eyes, Nicks
seeming callousness towards her, and the way he seemed to be flirting with all those
cheap tarts outside.

Suddenly, everyone inside the pub was singing along with me. Even Moggie was

grinning as she roared along the chorus with everyone else.


With a love like that, I sang, you know you should be glad.

With a love like that, you know you should be glad! the audience all but

shouted, making the bottles at the bar shake with the force of their singing.

Nick presently came back inside, startled that I was singing a song that he knew

wasnt part of the setlist wed agreed upon before we left the flat. I could see the color
draining out of his face. I think Moggie saw it, too, because she rushed towards him just
in time; he was beginning to sway. She dragged him back to her table, called for a glass
of water quick, damn it! and she was checking his pulse.

Your heartbeats racing! I heard her say, her face just as ashen as his from

worry. Whats wrong?


He didnt answer and I suddenly stopped playing. Hell, it was like the entire pub

had fallen silent. And then, before anyone could say anything, he grabbed her close and
did something that he probably should have done ages ago.

He kissed her.

He kissed her, yes; right in front of a packed pub on a Monday night, in front of

all those shocked fangirls.


You are not going anywhere, he said. Im driving you home later.

But she began to protest, eyes wide in shock, her face flushed pink.

He pressed a finger to her lips and kissed her again.

What could I do at that point? Well, what else is a singer supposed to do at a

point like that?! I led the crowd in a repetition of the chorus: With a love like that, you
know you should be glad! Yeah, yeah, yeah!