The old house used to be full of patterns: repeated lines and shadows that the sun paints in the morning on the wooden walls facing the wooden jalousie windows; and later, in the afternoon, as it descends upon the coconut fronds in the backyard, and gets swallowed behind the mountainous horizon. The pattern reveals itself to me as I lie in bed in the morning of Christmas Eve, turning my gaze away from the disintegrating plywood on the ceiling and the embarrassingly misshapen state of some of the walls. Just then, I chance upon the curving patterns on the blue mosquito netting, as the sun casts its harsh morning rays upon the windowsill. I shake Karl and Sean awake. I wish Eve and AiAi would discover it and amuse themselves with it, even as we grapple with the reality of the disintegrating state of the old house, where we grew up and spent our childhood. I wanted them to discover the patterns on the walls, the illusion and magic that such moments create in our drab, very ordinary lives.
Oh. If you only knew how I’ve been longing to go home to that place where people grew up in order to escape, perhaps, you might want to listen, even for just a split second, to my soul’s rumblings, before everything in this world could turn upside down. Why can’t you show any mercy? Why can’t you just show a sign—a sparkle in your mocking eye, a twitch of that wrinkled, old mouth, and I’d drop everything—the breaking news, the ratlife on Palosapis street, the daily press conferences, the days like this when we are running out of rice because I bought books from my rice budget, the lots of elbowing around with stupid, by-line hungry wannabes — and I’d follow you underneath the coconut groves, you no longer had to bother loading the tired back of that old, beloved horse of yours to carry basket loads of coconuts to the awaiting pugon. I would gladly take its place. I’d manually haul the huge baskets and carry them straight to the oven, where they’d be cooked into copra—if only to prove to you what I can do as a woman who wants to have a writing life of her own. What’s that incredulous look on your face? Think! Show mercy! Take, for instance, my expanding waistline—do you think they’re the pleasant remnants of leisure and happy life? They’re my unhappiness stored through the years, of serving the whims and caprices of machines and cold-hearted institutions; of being powerless and out of control; of having no money and no life of my own. Why can’t you just hear me above the mad hissing of coconut fronds, swaying to the breeze of a sunny Sunday morning? Why can’t you see the image of what I am trying to say? Why can’t you just say something?
I’m still trying to organize my very cluttered life so I know I won't be writing here for quite a very long time. I just realized, however, that after years of hankering after it, I finally found a room of my own, the sort that Virginia Woolf once said the women need to write fiction. This used to be the room I shared with Karl and Sean; until Karl chose to be independent two years ago and had been doing very well in it, so far; and Sean and I had frequented the part of the house that we shared with Ja, so, that the room had been left totally to itself, with all the things that are strictly mine and should be kept strictly away from Ja's reach. [Ja's order had always brought about total disorder and chaos to my mind, so he must have understood perfectly well why he had been barred from the room, although he still kept arranging things, which caused our friction, once in a while].
But it dawned on me these days that I have not been visiting the room quite as often as I wanted to. It had its twin windows and door directly facing a neighborhood mansion, two or three houses away; and in the mornings, I open this door very wide to enjoy the sudden burst of sunlight, the kind that is so magical for reading, and ideal for my failing eyesight. On lazy Saturdays and Sundays, I enjoy the sun and solitude of this room, with a book before me; and on harried weekdays, I pass this room with a pitcher, full of dripping water, to water my beloved herbs outside. I often stop and gaze at the mansion outside, and the mansion's windows would gaze back at me, with a look of sympathy (I guess) and commiseration over my inability to write (fiction). But the sun and the books are a luxury and a balm.