Monday, February 7, 2011

Summary of The Bread of Salt by NVM Gonzales

(In which there's always a gap.)


It was his assigned duty to be up early in the morning and be on his way to the baker’s to buy rolls and pan de sal for the breakfast table. He was fourteen and he has already got used to his task. On his way he thought of the bread of salt – pan de sal – and wondered how it was made, what gives its flavor and shape. He looked around the landscape at daybreak and once again remembered how much he adored Aida, the niece of the old Spaniard whom he thought he was destined to serve, just like his late Grandfather. At times he thought it was his duty to stay in the house in the service of the young maiden. He even dreamed that she likewise keeps an intense emotion for him, which she will only dare manifest in the right time.

He was a diligent student and violinist. It didn’t take long before he was transferred from second to first violin and before long, he was invited to join Pete Saez’ band and perform in one engagement after another. He was happy to earn money through his own skill, although it was with utter bitterness that he had to endure rehearsals despite the outward disapproval of his aunt against his chosen field. She thought musicians are no better than dogs scurrying to get their mouths on food scraps in trash bins. But he didn’t mind, thinking that the money he’ll earn from playing the violin will allow him the capacity to buy a brooch and beautiful stationery for his ardent love letters to Aida.

Then he was invited, together with Saez’ band, to the asalto for Don Esteban's daughters who were arriving from Manila. He was honored to be in a sophisticated gathering and get a magnified look at Aida’s stunning beauty. He was beside himself with immeasurable joy and pride but will later on be displaced by an equally immeasurable embarrassment at the buffet table after Aida caught him sneaking some sweets into the packet under his shirt. She nonetheless offered him a big package of food after the party but due to his intense shame, he lost the composure to react, along with the entire ardor he used to shower the maiden with. After the party they led the guests home with their music. Then with Paez, he went to the bakery to buy pan de sal with his own money. But the bread wasn’t ready yet so they waited.