Sunniest side up
Eggs are the most versatile food in the world. Meal’s too dry? Pair it up with a soft sunny side up. Got extra vegetables or leftover meat? Whip them up to an omelet. Want to level up your noodles? Boil some eggs. Are you bored and hungry? Fry scrambled eggs.
For someone who’s hustling and currently locked up in the metro, eggs have become my go-to meal as they’re easy to prepare, and they’ve kept me well. I’ve even learned a good number of cooking techniques just by using them. Also, how can I not cook them when my parents send me dozens of fresh eggs from our province whenever they get a chance?
It took me years to know an egg’s worth. Honestly, I didn’t like eating one when I was growing up.
One time, perhaps when I was 12, I asked Mama why she cooked eggs every day for breakfast. You could say I had lost my taste buds at the sight of them, especially toward those sunny side ups with the softest yolks. While Mama had served other dishes that warm Saturday morning, she shot me a cold glare after sensing my hesitation toward the eggs she placed right in front of me.
I reluctantly took out my spoon and began inspecting the sunny side ups. Their edges were slightly crisped, and the rims of the yolks were firm. I didn’t like how runny the yolks were. The thought of eating something raw appalled me. Hence, in my attempt to only take the salty whites out, I began calculating how much the fragile yolks could hold themselves in. I sliced around the eggs as carefully as I could, trying not to poke the yolks. Then, I scooped each of the whites out and slowly transferred them to my plate. It was mission accomplished after seeing that my spoon was untainted with the orange yolks. I looked up at Mama sitting across me and grinned, to which she responded with a defeated sigh.
Shortly after, Papa joined us at the table. He was caught off guard when he saw just the yolks on our serving plate. It took him a split second to realize what had happened when his gaze shifted to my plate. “Pambihira,” he laughed, and shook his head in disbelief.
Mama brought up my question to Papa. Another lecture, I thought. But to be fair, Papa’s lecture meant short stories about his past instead of mere reprimands.
“Ang nagpaaral sa akin—itlog!” Papa, an egg dealer, proudly began as he scooped the yolks. He believed in the importance of education. It was the only way to a better life, he said. His father urged him to get “Engr.” attached to his name, but they didn’t have the means to pay for his college tuition. Luckily, he was able to work as a part-time egg distributor after meeting a businessman who owned a large poultry and was suffering from an oversupply of eggs.
“Binabato-bato lang daw ’yong itlog noon,” Papa said, chuckling.
Upon graduating, Papa left the egg business to pursue his career as a mechanical engineer. But there was no job opportunity for him in the province at that time. He tried his luck in Manila but was rejected after employers told him they preferred applicants from well-known schools. He even applied at a mining company, but failed to progress after the first interview because he wasn’t wearing proper attire, which he and his family couldn’t afford. He tried to apply for jobs abroad but was scammed by an illegal recruiter. Out of exhaustion, he returned to the province. As soon as the businessman heard the news, he offered Papa a job once again — and this time, as a full-time egg distributor. Papa gladly accepted it.
Mama asked how much his initial investment was. A good amount of trust, Papa responded. I paused from taking another bite of the egg whites to ask him what he meant. Papa said he didn’t shell out any money to start his own egg business. Instead, he was given several egg cases by the businessman, who let Papa grow his own business from there. When business picked up, he expanded across different provinces. Certainly, he got scammed here and there, but he persevered until he found credible suppliers and built loyal customers. “’Di bale nang maloko kaysa sa manloko,” he declared.
When Papa was finished telling his piece, Mama looked at me, as if telling me to learn the moral lesson of Papa’s lecture. Just eating the eggs as a response felt inadequate. I was lucky to have those eggs that Mama cooked and Papa worked hard for decades to acquire.
While Papa had a hard time in Manila, I was lucky to go to my dream university and have my tuition shouldered by him. While Papa was rejected several times during his job hunt, I was lucky to be employed in a multinational firm a few weeks after graduation. While Papa worked hard to procure trays of eggs, I was lucky to have him and Mama send me dozens of eggs whenever they could.
I know I didn’t have to go through some of Papa’s adversities, but this is not the time to be complacent. Like Papa, I’ve also fallen for scams here and there in my pursuit to become a digital entrepreneur. But as I am his daughter, one thing’s for sure: My shell won’t be easy to break.
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Jhordya M. Soriano, 23, works as a financial analyst.
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