The Old Blue Notebook
by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
She unlocks the door of your father's flat and motions you to come inside.
The landlady is mostly pleasant--sweet, yet subtle and reserved, like a stereotypical English grandmother. You realize you cannot tell where her shawl ends and where her cat begins. She leans towards you and assaults you with the smell of rosewater and cat feces. You raise a fist to your mouth to suppress a gag reflex. You really, really want to throw up, but you can't.
Instead you smile and say, "Thank you."
You have been to your father's quarters only once before, on the week his broken body was identified. Only back then, you didn't know he was your father--just some distant Filipino relation who lived quietly in Hull and died a violent death.
You spent two hours and fifty-seven minutes on UK rail because your great-aunt from Sheffield insisted you go. You remember wondering why the bloody hell you should care. Who was this man who lived so utterly alone? Why did he leave Manila only to die so far away from everyone and everything he knew?