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When a little bird leaves the nest, no man can say with certainty how the little bird feels. Can it feel sorrow for making its headstrong leap? Is it scared or regretful? Perhaps excited and optimistic? Nor can we know how the mama bird accepts this departure. Of course, the mama will flit and dart in frantic paths, intercepting the sparrowhawk at her own peril, while the little one hides in the shadows. She will stay close by as the baby makes exploratory flights to rocks and low branches . At what point does the mama bird surrender posterity to fate? Is there a moment where she completely forgets the fledgling and concerns herself with food and shelter and the sex for the hatchling to come? Science suggests most birds forget their offspring entirely within a year, but who is to say for sure, except the little bird and the mama bird?

In Mutinlupa, as in Buffalo, the mama bird and the baby bird had been rife with the sorrow of separation. Wilma had texted the sparrowhawk's companion every day about the well-being of her chick and when Victor responded, it was only with she's fine; or I'm too busy right now; or nothing at all.

When he messaged that they would call on the Saturday, but two days away, the knots of pressure eased and she took her first carefree breath since the airport. She told the others of this and even Mitzy seemed excited.  At Friday dinner all the talk was about "Princess this" or "Princess that".

"Princess is probably not so skinny anymore," Mitzy speculated.

"Yeah, I'll bet Princess is so fat now!" Leonardo puffed his cheeks and pushed out his belly with a hearty laugh; the kind of laugh he used to do when Princess had amused him.

"I'll bet Princess is sleeping a lot better with no Mitzy beside her and I'll bet the mattress is so comfortable," Ernesto said.

"Well, I can't say for Princess, but I'm sleeping so much better," Mitzy boasted and they all laughed.

Wilma said, "Princess is probably so busy meeting new people and getting to know her new family, she probably hasn't even been able to think about us. I bet the little girls love having a big sister, too!"

Before the supper, Ernesto had gone to the piggery and procured a live hog which he delivered to the butcher. With luck he would bring home 500 pesos from the proceeds; even after Wilma had paid the loan shark ten percent on the two-day advance. He would get up early on Saturday and sell the parts to people he knew and the rest on the street. 170 pesos per kilo for the front legs and 150 for the back legs. Six kilos of pork chops for 1020 pesos. 300 pesos for the head and 500 pesos for the intestines and organs. The 40 kilos of meat will fetch at least 6000 pesos and 120 more for the bones. He would give the butcher 500 pesos and his breakfast from the cut.

Ernesto had done this with his uncle and sometimes they would make a bit and other times they broke even; but they were always ahead when counting the leftover meat. It was the first time he had done this on his own. He convinced Wilma he was man enough, now. They could use the money to buy a load for the phone and he would save the best cut for some pork adobo.

He took this task seriously and was careful with the money entrusted to him. He did not shy from the obligatory barter with the farmer. Even though they both knew the price before the haggling began.

"Oh, it is 6500 pesos for a hog this size. It's a duroc with lots of tender meat. You can see so yourself," the pig farmer would say.

"But last time we paid 5500 pesos for one just this size, maybe better," Ernesto fibbed.

"Not from me. I've never sold a hog here for that price. You must be thinking of something in the provinces. Maybe in Batangas a hog might fetch 5500, but this is Muntinlupa."

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