We were lounging about crudely hewn wooden benches and rough uneven dirt floors. I could hear the sound of the ocean, its waves resounding against the shore. The blazing afternoon sun had us too drained and withdrawn to do anything else than remain as still as possible in the shade and passively wait for the scorching heat to subside.
She prodded me awake from my idle daydreaming
" How old are you? "
Twenty-one, I answered.
" Are you married? "
What? I responded - rather taken aback yet amused.
" Or do you have a boyfriend? "
Uhh.. no. I answered with a slight smile.
" In our village, if a girl is not yet married by the time she is sixteen we say she is an 'old maid'. "
She gave me a humorous grin, her gnarled face wizened and weathered by wrinkles. Several of her teeth were missing - the few left were stained rust brown from years of chewing on betel leaves.
Okay, so I was an old maid. Tickled at my newly christened title, I laughed and smiled broadly back.
A comfortable silence ensued. Some moments passed, then she spoke up again.
" I have a nephew. He is twenty-five and working in Manila. "
She leaned in conspiratorially.
" He is not married. "