Thursday, August 27, 2015


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 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 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.

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