Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dear Old Self

So, do you still remember going into the midnight sale at the Metro? No, no, not even the Metro but that rustic department store somewhere near Gaisano South of Colon? Yes,Fairmart. Where we used to walk through the thickening crowds swarming the store and pushing their way to the rummage bins, where the sales staff used to throw away those items as thick as they’re dusty and smelling of old corners for having stayed on the display shelves for years.
What were you thinking then, as you waded through the swelling, palpitating crowd, finding your way around the thick forest of clothes, inch by inch, nudging those who shoved and elbowed you, shoving and elbowing in return?
What decadence, you used to grumble, your eyes popping at the price tags of a coveted piece of blouse or underwear which could transform you into another you, affording you a chance to dream, “What decadence!” you exclaimed, mimicking that Russian KGB in a popular American situation comedy you used to watch in Honey’s room inside the Tsa Elim Dormitory.
So, what were you thinking then? Did you think you can change yourself from being a poor girl from a land across the sea now in a big city to get a college education? Did you think you can change the world by changing the way you looked?
You tried a dress and saw how it suited your young and scrawny body, how it flattered your skin, your mind a whirl of emotion as you looked at that face in the mirror. Was it you? Who’s that girl? You asked, turning, staring, wanting to take all, spending a day’s worth of food allowance to buy a dream and feed your burning delusions.
I didn’t know what happened after that. I have counted the years and surveyed this particular time, and found out how brief it was compared to the great avalanche that eventually followed and pulled you out of there and brought you to me.
I wish you had been more circumspect. I wish I had warned you but I was equally careless! I wish you had tarried in one of those magazine shops somewhere near the Ultra Vistarama and the Oriente where you can read Time and Newsweek for only P5 or so, or a newspaper for P2 or so; or ogle at Itzhak Bentov’s “Stalking the Wild Pendulum,” or Carl Sagan’s “Broca’s Brain” in another bookstore, instead of shoving your way into that stupid midnight sale, flirting with your own ego!


The shape of my writers block is a jagged rock that feels like a migraine. Why can’t you finish what you’re writing and move on with your life? Ja kept asking me, so, I go back to this tiny laptop to see what I can do with the story, but still the story refuses to budge. What is wrong with my head? The migraine seems to open ugly cracks on my mind where the blood cascades in powerful torrents.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The boy who (does not) refuse to grow up

Yes, I’m here inside Peter Pan, the curious dropping place of women shopping in the nearby mall. They came here in thongs and printed dresses, mother and daughter in the next table, a woman, a friend and a cousin, wiggling their bodies, shaking their hair as they go from table to counter, waiting for their orders. I just arrived here with Sean, who after a bite of the sugar-coated raisin bread, loosened up a bit and told me how, when he was in Grade One, he tried to buy an icecream cone worth 20 pesos with his 25-centavo coin. He was a bit puzzled why the woman selling it was mad at him. It was such an embarrassing blunder, he said, but now that he is entering Grade Four, he already has a fair understanding of things and would no longer commit such a mistake. I told him it was okay. I sensed it was better here than at Dunkin’ Donuts, where he would be preoccupied with the sweetness of his ChocoWacko. Or maybe at the Bread Station where he would be too busy eyeing the array of starchy delights to put in our basket. Earlier, I was here to exorcise the headache I’ve been having on Holy Thursday and Good Friday and erupted full blast on Easter Sunday. Now that everything is over, I am perfectly okay.