Thursday, August 27, 2015

Inventory

Pawned my Samsung tablet for the second time after redeeming it from the New World, pawned it again at RV, the guy appraising it nodded his approval and threw a sneaking look at me, thinking this woman must be in dire need of money, this woman is not used to pawnshops, does this woman ever have a piece of jewellery, why does she have to pawn a tablet? and suddenly, I was seeing myself through the man’s eyes, I see this middle-aged woman in a dark blouse, a knitted chalico over it, drawing from a heavy black bag what must be her last treasure in the world, did the man ever see that that tablet was my reading tablet; that I read from there W.H. Auden’s essays on poetry, W.H. Auden’s essay on reading and writing, that guy Nathan Poole’s impressive short story, “Stretch out your Hand,” which won first prize at Narrative.com in 2014,  Joyce Carol Oates, “Fragments of a Diary,”  Salman Rushdie’s The Duniazat, Salman Rushdie’s Personal History; I’ve been reading from that tablet about Stalin’s daughter, and volumes of poetry I downloaded from Narrative.com and The NewYorker and The Paris Review; and plenty of books about photography and the past presidents of the Philippines. Can’t the man see, how that piece of equipment has sustained my life, given me a rare source of pleasure when things are becoming unbearable? But as I said, these are times of extreme difficulty, when the pay I receive could not last until the next payday; and so I have to forego the source of life’s greatest pleasure to buy a kilo of fish and vegetables and rice, pay the fare, and most of all, feed the cats, and the boys, until the next payday comes again with a shock, because no matter how hard I work, the pay always run short, and life always ground to a halt before the next payday arrives. Now, I know that even though man (woman) does not live by bread alone, woman also needs bread to live and have a soul, I’m not sure if I still sound right at this point.
Still, I hope pawning the tablet  will not completely deprive me of my secret pleasure. I can still find so much to read everywhere. I can still make do with the books at home, mounds of them staying unread in one corner, gathering dust; on top of my cabinet, towering over my table, threatening to fall. Books are growing on the floor, at the side of my desk, on my table. Haven’t I told Sheilfa books are streaming in my room, like a river? A copy that I bring home one day can first be seen on my table, and then on the bookshelf next before it succumbs to the floor; and then gone to sea afterwards because I could no longer find it. My books don’t stay in a fixed place, in a fixed position. They form part of a bigger universe where everything is revolving around something and rotating.  At times, they grow wings or gills, they begin to have lives of their own. Sheilfa was shocked. At first, she hesitated lending me a book; but because of desperation, she left me some of her most prized collections, Edith Wharton’s Old NewYork, Proust’s The Germande’s Way, Zeotroppe’s, Willa Cather’s, when she was hurrying to leave for Jolo.  So, here I am now, friendless and tablet-less; my friends are faraway, battling their own battles. I’m fighting my own battles vigorously but I can now feel the strength draining out of my body. I just discovered that I’m now a 47-year-old woman, without a past and a future; trying hard to retrieve my past to understand it; turning it over into the light, like a piece of jewellery you’ve seen for the first time. For a moment, I believed that by understanding the past—my past—I might discover the future—though, the future for me is already way too late. Now that I no longer have that tablet, I feel naked.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Declaration

Since my frequent comings and goings, and my infinite trips back and forth to my hometown are causing so much disruption and severe hemorrhage to my writing life, which also means, my financial life, I promise to spend every tiny bit of a rest day or holiday only with books, and not with people. I will get back by totally boycotting all forms of inebriating liquid, and by avoiding like plague all types of merriment and the wrong type of people.

Dreaming of you

Awakened from a dream at 1:45 am. I was in a group, the usual crowd of journalists herded for an event, trying to find a restaurant. We were on a bus, as usual; and in a strange city. Aboard, we walked and ran while the bus was running, trying to keep pace with its speed inside the abnormally-shaped narrow space near the steering wheel.
The  woman next to me was a journalist from Manila, she had that look; and later on I saw my old buddy Bong Sarmiento, sidling up to me, and we beamed at this pleasant recognition. He used to call me, Luka, which was actually loka (crazy) but in this dream, he did not do such a thing. He was dressed in an old red shirt and he appeared so thin and bedrraggled, which was not quite like him in real life. Awakening with a headache and a bloated feeling in my stomach, I went down the house and did some stretching and kicking exercise before the big mirror. I forgot to say, I was in Ma's house inB'la. W hen I was huffing and puffing, the sweat threatening to burst, I stopped, fanning myself vigorously with Ma's paperfan, the kind the stores at the malls give you to advertise their products. 
When I went back to bed, I dreamed of you but couldn't remember anything from that more important dream.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Growing Wings



My Ma had asked my Pa, so, how is the copra going? And Pa thundered, “How should I know?!” and I told Ma in a whisper, “Don’t worry, Ma, I will go, I am your Magick Daughter, your runner, I am your Mercury, I go where ever you want me to go and you don’t have to worry because I run so fast; just like Mercury, I grow wings on my feet.” She looked at me with amused disbelief, and when I came back, she was surprised that I have paid her tax dues, paid the electric bills, pre-empting impending disconnection, talked to the people at the farm, all in one sweep. I said, I told you Ma, I’m your magick daughter, do you believe now? 
I’ve been intrigued by life at the farm. I’ve never been here for years except to sleep in Ma’s bed and then gone off the following morning, chasing love and happiness, which was always beyond reach.
But now, Ma’s crumbling memory, Pa’s ailment which we want to believe is only old age - [sisters don’t want to talk about Pa’s lungs anymore now that Pa has stopped taking painkillers] - have forced me to stay here several days a week to find out how they’re doing. 
I always find them in the mornings staring into space, their faces devoid of any sense of urgency; and so, I get disoriented, too.  I couldn’t touch the things I was supposed to write, as I stare into space myself.  
But life in this place intrigued me a bit.  Some curious things always happen to people and the rawness of them sometimes struck me dumb. As soon as I arrived here Thursday night, for instance, I heard about a boy the neighbors rushed to the hospital because he cut off the tip of his penis. They’re still in the hospital now, I hope the boy survives, and why would he do such an unimaginable thing? People here are asking. His classmates at the public high school said it must be the exams which are getting tough, but I suspect it must be something about his mother or father’s attitude towards sex, the rest of the folks said it must be that madness running through the family. His elder brother was mad, his father was mad, they’re not the kind of madmen you can see running around naked, but still they’re mad, said T, our househelp. 
I forgot to tell her madness is also a sign of genius, and I hope, I’m also mad—but I mean that in another sense.  I spent the morning reading part of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, thinking about you; and about what he said about the two of you, target shooting inside the property you inherited from your Pa and Ma. He asked, what did you two call each other before? Luv? Swiddah? I cringed. Questions I’ve been longing to ask you: What is your name? Who are you? Where did we meet? Where were you when I left my childhood?  Where were you when I arrived? 

Monday, August 03, 2015