Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Requiem for a barber

I learned over the weekend that my favorite barber passed away last week. Mang Alim was my barber from way back. If my memory serves me right, way back is freshman high school (1983). The only long spells from that time when I had my haircut elsewhere were the times I was in Japan studying (1996-1999) or as a Visiting Scientist (2001). I had no choice but to find a good barbershop there and was fortunate to have a suking barbero in Meguro, Tokyo.

I remember Alim had no questions or never contradicted the instructions given to him by his clients, whether they were suki (regulars) or new with the barbershop. He was always the silent type and seldom spoke or related tsismis (rumors) or other stories such as people would expect from traditional barber shops (i.e., kwentong barbero). We were regulars for a long time that whenever I or my father arrived at the barber shop, we were always given preferential treatment, going ahead of other customers except other regulars who were also familiar faces.

He always knew what to do when I sat on the barber's chair
Middle of last year, Alim wasn't around when I came for my regular, end of the month haircut. When I returned the following weekend, he was there and related that he was sick. He shyly asked me if I could help him with his medicines as the doctor prescribed several including expensive antibiotics. I didn't think twice and gave him money to purchase medicines. The following month he seemed better and asked me to grant him some time for him to repay the money he borrowed. I told him he didn't have to pay me and jokingly told him to give my father a free haircut when he comes to the shop. That was the last time I had a haircut with him as barber. 

Here's a toast to a decent person whom I consider as a friend. May your soul rest in peace Alim!

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