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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Stand still

It was Holy Wednesday and Metro Manila was howling in urgency. The streets are packed with vehicles moving up north and down south. The pavements are being hammered with a torturous echo. Terminals are packed with anxious people sweating under the sweltering heat of the night, waiting to get a ride that will bring them to their respective province. The lights are slowly going out one by one like the candles in churches during the solemn Tenaebre. It was almost midnight. 

I stood in a line that stretches a few meters along with fellow commuters waiting to get a ride. People are growing impatient, and so am I. I wanted to escape Metro Manila and hopefully find a few days rest away from everything reminding me of the rat race I'm in. I was not alone. I look at the people around and saw the same hunger in their eyes. Even in their bulging baggages. 

In a faint light ruling the night, I saw a minute, seemingly insignificant scene in a "Mang Inasal" across the line of people I was in. A young guy probably in his early twenties, thin, wearing white shirt and a hairnet, was carefully mopping the floor. In a table near him were two guys, about the same age as the guy mopping the floor, cleaning small bottles of condiments. They were using a small tube brush. They were having a small banter. Occassionaly they would laugh at each other. They look pristinely happy. In the counter, a girl was wiping the stainless area where hungry costumers recite their orders taking cue from the menu board posted above. In a corner a guy was carefully examining some sort of a log book. 

From afar I watched this scene curiously. Occassionaly, one of the guys washing the bottles would take notice of me to which I would respond by shyly moving my gaze away, only to be back right after I see them busy again with their work. 

Minutes passed and they huddled in a small table, the same one used by customers. They set the plates and utensils. There were rice and chicken, and a towering bottle of Coca Cola in the middle. Althroughout they were smiling and laughing and talking. I thought they looked genuinely happy. Some of the guys are comfortably eating in their bare hands. The last one to join the table was the guy who was mopping the floor. 

Until they leave the store one by one, still smiling and laughing talking at one another, I observed them carefully. Only at that point I noticed I was smiling the whole time. I was still standing in line then and still no sighn of any UV Express that will bring me home. 

This small scene made me realized how fast life is in the middle of this concrete jungle I'm in, in the very eye of it, sucked in a dark vortex violently swirling in an endless beat of a deafening humdrum. Until you get addicted. And then you convince yourself that you're doing something significant. That you're saving the world nobly despite the world not asking. 

That moment was a moment of peace for me. I wanted to be the Coca Cola in the middle of those people. I wanted to eat with them. To sit with those uncomfortable wooden benches while munching those rubbery chicken bathed in soy sauce. It brought me back in the time when I was still in college, when life was simple and my dreams were real, valid. During then I would order two packs of pancit canton in a makeshift store in one of those illegal settlers at the back of the school. I would put it on top of a hot rice, and that's it! That will be my lunch. Sometimes it's a can of sizzling hot Century Tuna which I shared with my bestfriend. You will find us in a corner along the corridor munching our simple meal joking, laughing.

The time was tough then, the same way that the time right now is tough. But then I have the conviction, the will to go forward. Now I seemed to have lost it. All I have is fear, an empty map, and a broken compass. 

I envy those people who have the guts to still try despite the times being hard, their conviction to live, their smiles despite the world going against them. They don't rant. All they do is joke and laugh about the misseries they have. The next day, they're ready again. 

I want a simple life. A quiet one. But then I admit I'm addicted to all that glitters, the limelight and being involved with things. I want to be "there" if not the "it." I despise the superficial, and yet I think I'm no more real. I want to leave, but I can't. I just can't. And then there's the nagging fear of the future. 

The great Nelson Mandela used to say that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. So how do you put fear behind you? How do you conquer fear?

Author's note:

This is an unedited copy. Apologies if there's any typo or grammar errors.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chapter three: Chaos

It's not that I'm scared of dying. I'm just terribly scared of people leaving.

I don't know how to put this anymore. I have deleted more words than the ones I've retained. There are no more coherence to this train of contemplation. The way ahead is not just blurry, but on the verge of demise, gnawed upon by the monsters I created.

It's madness isn't it? That the very same suicidal person fears death. The very same creature inhabiting the darkness is afraid of the devils.

Time is another monster. Cunning, self-possessed, deceitful - a friend to the young, an enemy to the old. I heard it screaming profanities on me. It's on me. And I cannot persuade it to be kind, or beg even for an ounce of mercy.

The days are counted. The Earth bleeding. One by one the stars are dying. The scarlet sky weeping.

Where do we go from now? Where are we headed?


Chapter one: Grief

"I know no more of words that would suffice to imprint the deep sorrow I have now. My very inside was pierced, twisted in agonizing grip. I searched for reprieve but none came except endless fear." 

Chapter two: Fear

"I am terrified. I am terrified of myself. I am terrified of what will come. I am terrified of making another decision because it could be another mistake." 

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