Writing Desk

Story from a Mall Long Gone

Notes on my short story, Almeda Plaza (Eastlit, July 2014)

In Writing Desk I hint at new projects or revisit published works.

Boxing Day evening news showed queues at shopping centres, despite the pandemic that kept us home for most of 2020. Old habits die hard, I guess. I stayed home on Boxing Day myself; the idea of standing in line while bundled up in winter wear lost its appeal years ago. Seems the fitting occasion though, to unearth a short story I wrote years ago, which is set in a mall and found home at Eastlit.com.

The title, Almeda Plaza, is a fictional shopping centre I modelled after Ever Gotesco Grand Central in Caloocan City. I don’t remember it to be grand, however: the aircon is patchy, the shops’ lighting dim, the wares inexpensive and flimsy. The place didn’t have the perennially polished look of SM or Robinson’s. I frequented the National Book Store there, but I also remember the ground floor bazaar, the assembly of siomai, sago-gulaman and shawarma kiosks near the ground floor’s grocery department, the evergreen uniform of the sales staff.

Ever Gotesco burned down in 2012. But it features so vividly in my childhood memories that it served a colourful backdrop to write about innocence and poverty, broken friendship and unrequited love.

By Patrick Roque – Taken using my own camera with model DSC-W220, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79797723

In writing Almeda Plaza, I played at witnessing the dynamics of adult relationships through the eyes of a child raised on love, hope, and not much else.

Pre-pandemic, I sometimes whiled away boredom by window-shopping. I also miss my semi-regular Friday evenings date with my mom, which included a chat at the food court, a purchase or two on paydays. There is that fleeting pleasure in the idea of owning all these beautiful things on artful display. Covid-19 has us browsing our screens (not a huge fan of this though because eye strain). Sometimes, you’ll remember you don’t really need it. Sometimes you do give in, indulge, and it seems like life will change. But in the end, stuff could only do so much in making us forget how life fell short of our expectations.

I wish you, reader, all the best for 2021.

Featured photo © 2021 Leah Ranada

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