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NAIPAKILALA sa mga paslit na sinanay kamakailan ang isang malapad na latag ng ikmo (ch’ing chu, Piper betle) sa lilim ng punong mangga. Nabanggit na mga matanda lang ang gumagamit sa naturang dahon… itinatapal sa mga sumasakit na kasu-kasuan o sikmura, ampat sa kirot ng kabag at rayuma…

Nalimutan pa nga ang pangalan ng halaman na kontra-diabetes din pala ang katas ng dahon… konting pananaliksik pa’t mabubungkal din ang iba pang bisa laban sa sakit ng ligaw na baging na katuwang ng apog ang dahon sa mga kakanin ng Thailand.

Opo, nagtataglay ng anti-oxidants ang ikmo, panlaban pa sa tadyak ng alkohol sa utak, at mas mabagsik kaysa streptomycin ang bisa kontra mikrobyo… kaya mas mainam lantakan—may banayad na lasa ng paminta’t sili-- kaysa iceberg or romaine lettuce.

Pwedeng lapatan ng sinumang paslit ng iba pang pangalan, halimbawa, kontrayuma… baka nga kontra sa gayuma—parang alkohol din kasi ang sipa ng pagnanasa sa utak… ‘kakahilo, ‘kakalasing, ‘kakabaliw.

So I was shaking my head seeing a smitten ‘tweener eye with fond fascination a comely girl yet to step into her teen years… “too young to really be in love— mahal ko si Toyang ‘pagkat siya’y simple lamang, kahit (pa may problema) basta’t kami ay magkasama…”

I’ve got to give it to Sesame Street’s The Count—“how do I love thee, let me count the ways, mwa-ha-ha-haw!”

Uh, if you ask me, they’re too young to be struck with cardiac unrest…

And I remember growling at a kid in near-tears tackling a physically exacting field challenge, “Forget your body… set your mind to it!” (And went through she did after a few painful attempts.)

Then I remember that romance is mostly in the mind, mostly chemical… a section of the brain spurts dopamine, more intoxicating than a jolt of vodka or whiskey that gives a giddy feel of pleasure… and another brain section is roused for a stronger jolt and begs for more of the same… male get awash in vasopressin (which makes him protective of his mate and turf) and testosterone that triggers aggression… female is soaked in estrogen which makes her feminine and tender… both are awash in oxytocin hormone that induces a feeling of bliss and well-being.

It’s a third section of the brain that binds the lover to the beloved—the caudate nucleus… the area that commits to long-term memory the look, feel, and identity of the person provoking, oops, providing the pleasure.

The kids who roared with laughter with the silly jokes I plied them on the way home won’t know better… they were getting themselves doused in oxytocin, nudging a bevy of caudate nuclei to remember… me… as my grandchildren do in moments magical when I go through antics as childish and silly.

Gayuma… a grizzled guy never needed that arcane magic when he can stoke tender conflagration in the caudate nucleus…

“What you give you get, ten times over.”


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