Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Life with Ja

“Tell me, Ja, do you know how to pray?” I asked Ja this afternoon while I was taking a break from writing.
“Why?!” he asked.
I shrugged. Then, I said, “Last night, I was in panic. I had to edit five chapters in one sitting and I had to finish a three-part story about rice and the global financial crisis. You were all asleep but even if you were awake, I was thinking no one could ever help me now. I was really in big trouble and I needed some help! I was on the verge of madness. I was afraid I might snap. I wanted to pray but I don’t know how to. Now, I realize, it pays to learn how to pray.” I paused. “So, I’m asking you now, Ja,” I said, looking up at him, “Do you know how to pray?”
For a moment, Ja looked at me, stunned. He just came home from a trip downtown and he still had that handkerchief wrapped around his shaven head and there was something in the way he peered down at me through his thick glasses.
“Yes, I know what you’ll do!” Ja said, suddenly excited. “I know you! I can imagine you praying to Buda!” He pronounced it as Buda, as in Bukidnon-Davao. “Yes, Buda! And all sorts of Gods! Of all shapes and sizes! Including Mickey Mouse!”
“Ja!” I said.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Letter from Jegenstorf

I just received a letter from Monika, together with some pictures. She said she took those pictures on the first day of the year! Her letter is for all her friends in Mindanao working for change. "It was a wonderful morning," Monika wrote, "With sunshine glimmering on a brand new snow cover! All the dirt, the evil, was covered under the bright new snow and peace was over the land! I made a walk through the woods and I was the first human being, stepping on this New Year morning through the snow. How much I would have taken you with me to admire this nature phenomenon.The first four pictures were made out from my kitchen. The next three pictures I took in the woods and the last two pictures were taken in the Wallis, up on the mountains on 1600 meters.
Lets hope that this absolutely clean nature on the first day of the year, will be a symbol of more justice and peace in this world!"
Yes, Monika.

Getting over God

I still meet Pratish on cyberspace. She told me something and asked me if I was shocked. “No,” I said. “I also fall in love—with God. Are you shocked?!”
It was my turn to ask.
“No,” she said. “But how does it feel?!”
“I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t think, I can’t work, I can’t write, I can’t do anything but stare in space.”
I don’t know why she called me Emily Dickinson. She wouldn’t explain why. I just feel this lump in my throat every time I think of God. It was a curse that I saw him one morning in December, so thin and fragile as he climbed down his Isuzu Elf, I wanted to protect him. I was even surprised by my feelings.
If I hadn’t seen God in that state, maybe, I wouldn’t care if I’ve seen a big mouse on my way home the other day, being doused by a hose of water in Karwasan ni Jullan (open 24 hours on corner Nova Tierra and Lanang highway) by teenagers who have never seen a mouse that big before.
The mouse was as big as a cat, something that a mouse should not be, because it could challenge a cat and win. People do not like that. That’s why the mouse easily attracted the kids’ attention. I was so mad at those teenagers because the mouse looked so innocent and so fragile, shivering and wet at 10 pm in the evening.
The tricycle driver noticed I was already growling in my seat but I did not have the courage to stand up to confront those youngsters about the mouse.
Maybe, they’d laugh at me. Maybe, they’d open the tank of a motorcycle and burn it and when I’d ask them why, they’d train their gun at me and fire at me and blow my head off and then, after I’ve fallen on the pavement, the leader would ask, “Is that all you do when you kill a Woman?” and so, they’ll step over my body, empty all their bullets onto me and scatter my brain on the pavement.
So, I tried to turn my back to those youths so that I could not see what they were doing to the mouse. A boy lifted a very big stone to crush it.
But then, I realized how could I just close my eyes if I see somebody doing that to an innocent mouse?
I don’t know why, but the mouse reminded me of God. I just read an account how a suspected gunman had once aimed his pistol at God while God was driving his Elf in the outskirts of Sultan Kudarat. It was just lucky that the gunman missed.
God has been receiving plenty of death threats, I was wondering what God could be doing at that hour in the evening, at that exact moment that I’ve seen the mouse; whether he was still up, reading his copy of Newsweek magazine or if he has lain down to bed, exhausted after a long day.
Does anyone ever talk to God before he sleeps? I wonder what kind of bed God sleeps on. Does he prefer a soft bed that would bounce back when he drops his weight—or something hard and unyielding, like wood, perhaps?!
But then, in my accursed state, I don’t have any way of knowing anything about God. I live in another world. Without God.