It comes as some kind of a hybrid between a joke and some kind of a hope springing eternal.
In the midst of the miserable monetary deprivation, even an idiot can be obsessed with the rich possibilities of hitting the right combination of numbers all wanting attention, all wanting to be picked as if in them are the substance of what the good life is all about.
The good life, of course, is not defined according to egalite, fraternite, liberte but that individual partaking of the life lived by the elite and the petit bourgeoisie who simply are the bastard inheritors and beneficiaries of the sweat and labor of others.
So on one summer afternoon when the heat was punishing and while you were in the home country trying to savor the meaning and experience of vacation after almost a year of tying to scratch out a life in an America city that is as real as its celluloid fantasies, you decided one brave thing for yourself: queu up and go after that good luck. A million pesos is still a million pesos even if that bag of money is not in euro or in dollar.
So there, the numbers you have taken care of over the years, long before you came to America to dream on however fantastic that dream is, were there for the quick picking: 8 22 25 26 44 11. You can disarrange them as if they are pieces in a Soduku puzzle but they are etched in the mind, solidly engraved in the grey matter between the ears that always are on the lookout as well for the good signos, the good sound of numbers and what they mean.
I tell my wife: Go, you have the luck. I can always give up my exilic life if you hit it right this time around.
Ok, I try, she says. I think that we are going to make one day.
Yes, I tell here, in a tone that is conspiratorial: my hands and palms and mind itch. The itching is a good sign.
You have no fungus infection, the talkative of a first daughter says.
Shut up, I say. I look at her with hatred in my eyes to hide my worry because of her small faith in the good suerte, the good luck.
Aa, she says. Do not look at me that way, dad. Luck is luck anywhere to look at it, anyway you look at it. We will have it as soon as we have it.
That is why we are waging, I say.
You are waging because you want to reclaim your life from despair. Waging make you alive, afirms your existence.
The whole existentialist crap, I say.
The number, they mean many things. I hope you get them right this time around, she says.
I stick by my numbers: birthdays, significant dates our family share with each other, I say.
The line is snaking through the two-teller counter.
In about 15 minutes, we might be called, I say.
The line did not move fast during the last 15 minutes as if some are contesting the way the games would appear on national television.
A thought came to mind: How one colleague in a college of UP Diliman got so lucky he won more than P20M of the superlotto last year.
The news went the rounds of envious professors and hungry instuctors: P20M is P20M. You can declare an early retirement and write that famous novel if you have that amount. Like the greedy and lazy capitalist, take the easy way out: time deposit the money and get as much earnings as you can get and live the life of the little prince.
I remember in Los Angeles: I would put the ticket in the altar, offering all this good luck to her, offering a prayer that "Lord, lord, have meryc on me. Have mercy on me so I would be able to show to other people."
I pocketed the ticket and went around, moving fom Rusty Lopez to Manel to the Florsheim section. I can only envy the footwear, the sheen on the leather marking quality and pointing to need to pay more because of quality.
You P2500 for each pair.
You go the way of the self-contained and the proud--and you look to the exit. You could become the most swerti of them all. You could be everything you want to be, I tell my daughter.
But this is not the moment to contradict each other in the spirit of dialogue and communion.
Are we lucky in the home country?
Well, not everyone is as lucky as I am.