Kodak Moment

Half of our home movies are of chickens balancing on fences. My father wanted to be a farmer. We lived in the suburbs. The camera zooms in and then out as the rooster crows to reveal our backyard: picnic set, mango tree, all of the other chickens snoozing in their tent-shaped wire-fence cages or pecking at random spots on the ground.Me and my siblings find the tapes in an old file cabinet and stick them in the VCR for fun, press Play just to see if they’ll work. The film goes fuzzy and then an image starts to form and we lean in, bracing ourselves for the Kodak moment: wait for our faces as we’ve seen them printed out in photo albums–gap-toothed and chubby in over-sized shirts. Instead, the static gives way to a chicken having just jumped from the top of a small shed, feathers all in a flurry as it makes its ungraceful leap to the ground where it bumps into another chicken and they swat at each other. The frame is steady, soaks us in this moment. He loved the chickens more than us, my brother jokes. We laugh, eject the tape and put in the next one. My father wanted to be a farmer. The images are grainy and we lean in to see, waiting for more birds and maybe a glimpse of our house. The screen clears up: it’s me as a four-year-old at breakfast , my hair in a bowl cut, chubby hands holding two pieces of pandesal. I offer one up to the camera. This is yours okay? From behind the lens, my dad agrees and takes the bread. I wait for more but there isn’t any.

 

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