It was payday yesterday and for a treat, I bought a bucket meal at KFC - 8 pcs of crispy fried chicken, 2 bowls of pasta, 4 packs of rice and softdrinks. All of these probably amount to 5,000 calories or more, I actually don't know and I actually don't care, at least for today.
In an ordinary middle-income family like ours, with a salary that's just about enough to make both ends meet from payday to the next, having a KFC bucket meal is surely considered a special treat. In fact, my heart skipped a beat when I saw the delight in the faces of my two sons when they saw me with the bucket meal. Everyday when I arrive home and they hear the creaking of our gate being opened, it's their cue to stand up and meet me at the door, and help me with whatever I am holding, and to do the customary "kissing of the hand of the elderly" (sorry but I'm still resisting the term elderly).
My husband mobilized at once the small army of two teenage sons in setting up the dinner table to be able to eat the prized bucket meal while still hot. My loyal and ever gentle dog nudged my hand while I was walking towards the dinner table. He too knows that there's something special for dinner.
Dinner time for us is precious. It's the time when my sons have the opportunity to update us on how their day was. It's quite tricky, but it's also the time when I can sense if they're holding back something from me. As a mother with superior intuition, I could feel if they're up to something and having raised them up with no talent in telling lies, one look at them and they will say everything they've been wanting to say, including special requests for an increase in allowance (which is usually turned down). If there's gonna be an increase in allowance for the next day, it has to be fully justified, just like defending a theses. My sons know how hard life is. I want them to know reality, and not live in a cocoon, thinking that life is a bed of roses.
My husband, the ever supportive one, just quietly listens to all the ramblings, and sometimes making a comment or two, most specially when our conversation reaches the "current events" section of the dinner. It's his turf. My faithful dog stands beside me, with his jaw on my lap, waiting for a chicken bit from me. The bucket meal dinner lasted for about an hour. We were oblivious to the news being presented on TV. For us, that bucket meal is the "news of the day".
After dinner, again, my husband mobilized his small army to do their tasks. My younger son is usually tasked to clean up after dinner, while the elder one takes care of the dishes. Almost always, my eldest requests for exceptional approval to delay his task for one hour or more, just to watch TV. I always say yes.
But last night was different. While I was sitting in front of the computer, I glanced at my two sons who were left sitting at the dinner table. They were talking and laughing about mundane things, and this seldom happens, I honestly can say. With six years age gap, they often have differences in opinion and interests - a specific example - my youngest is thinking of becoming a priest, while my eldest wants to be a rapper. See? I must admit seeing them enjoying each other's company made me teary-eyed (cheesy me). I saw my husband and our dog in our sala, sitting cozily beside each other looking contented.
What a big difference a bucket meal for dinner can do! I think I should really put this in my workplan for next payday. I said a silent prayer that God does a miracle in my payslip so I can afford the bucket meal more often. It's a prayer that I am sure God will answer in no time at all - and perhaps with additional mashed potatoes and french fries.