I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I bought those pens, but I’m sure I was really young. I can’t remember if I bought pens for both of my parents but pens are what’s in my memory so I think they’re everything I had then.

I think I was in grade school when this happened—maybe Grade 1, 2, or 3—young enough to be naive but old enough to try. Mama and Papa’s anniversary were approaching—about nine years of marriage. I remember that all my siblings and I were preparing their gifts or our parents. I don’t remember what my two sisters prepared. All I could remember is that I bought four ball pens, 5 pesos each. I wrote a short happy anniversary note on a pad paper and used that to wrap two pairs of ball pens.

On the day of the anniversary, all of us siblings went down from our rooms to the living room where Mama and Papa were sitting down. I remember sitting on my father’s lap and giving his pair. I can’t remember if he said something like “Thank you” but I do remember feeling a little ashamed.