After the afternoon train

You are the indifference of the stars. The dusts in the windows have bloomed into profusion, the curtains bled in your absence, and your laughter melted straight into the wall. The last time we were together you were happy.

A few days after that you were barely returning my affection. Do tell me what transpired in between. I do not understand.

It’s not dawn yet but the night has already coiled into myrtles of meaningless thoughts. You became the speedy train at 4:30 in the afternoon. You ferried the ghost to their comforts and I hobbled after you until there is nothing left in that barren station but unwanted litters and overworn seats.

The railings refused to accept my existence and I have ceased expecting love to rescue me.

You are the indifference of the stars and there is tenderness in reading poetry, in silence, at 2 o’clock in the morning. I am not going to run after you but if you do not find home in strange places, a candle in my window can lead you back to me.

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Ciao! Existence

The year 2017 has been a trying one for me. January, I got off an employment where colleagues are negligent and downright feckless. I went from being underpaid to being a bum, and goddess knows I’ve succeeded.
February, my cat, Fishy, passed away. It was a freak accident. Once, when she was barely 8 weeks old, I was able to snatch her from death. But that February evening I was simply not there. She died alone and in pain. And after all these months I’m still grieving.
March and April, I was plagued with intense sadness and everyday gloom. Or maybe it was melancholia. Leaving the house was difficult. Facing people, especially those I know, more so. I obsessively thought about death.
May to June, I hitched my way round the country. Rode random trucks and ships to distract myself from suicidal tendencies and cross out an entry from my bucket list.
It was during that time when I spent a night in Mindoro and Aklan. I swerved a trip to Boracay. I got stranded in Capiz. Encountered difficulties in Cebu. Killed a long while on the road from Bukidnon to Davao. Saw Mindanao from the mountaintop. Met an old friend from UPLB graduate school. Slept in bus terminals. Slept in an island 3 hours away from Indonesia. Visited the Grand Mosque in Cotabato. Ended up less than 40 kms away from Marawi when the Maute conflict broke. Experienced Martial Law. Volunteered in the refugee camp. Got interrogated a few times.
July, I came back to my loneliness. I hated this country. I hated the people — every single jot of their pretense and hypocrisy. I hated their spotless, untrue lives in the social media. I hated their lack of sincerity. I still do.
I wanted, more than anything, to leave. Over time, this persisted and intensified. It was a mental battle I had to resist and confront and combat and overcome — and I don’t always win.
August, my suicidal tendencies progressed. A gloom that is rooted to a death incident more than a decade ago devoured me alive. It was agonizing. I wanted to leave this world.
September, I ended up in a project in Zambales. It resuscitated me, in its particular way. Those were the days when life randomly surprised me with hope and a guarantee of a bearable tomorrow. I held on to that, best as I can.
One of my bestest friends, Jy, recommended me for the project. It is almost the end of my contract but in doing so, she restructured my life and, in her way, kept me alive.
October, a good friend of mine passed away. It was sudden and his absence left an aching gape in this lifetime. I have not moved on. I have not accepted his death either.
November, I had a skin flare outbreak. My skin cells have abnormally developed this inability to live longer. I shed skin — and I shed relentlessly. This disables me from keeping moisture. I had to guzzle plenty of fluids to keep myself from dehydrating. This also disables me from retaining my body heat. I was always cold. And I was gravely ill.
December, a friend of mine who passed away last October was callously judged in front of me. I was appalled. That day I have learned the kind of person I no longer want in my life. They are the ones who reduce the complexity of your existence to fit the box of their preference. Those who find empowerment in prejudicial remarks. Those whose self-righteousness have blinded them to pure hypocrisy. Those who find it easy to slander an individual and grueling to actually understand.
This was a trying year, 2017. My demons rose and no matter how exhausted I am, I had to will myself and pursue the battle. Some days I failed but what matters, I guess, is persistence. I will always be grateful to those who were patient with me, especially during those times when I simply wanted to kill myself.
Of course, I lost myself in the process, painful and bit by bit. But I have also come to love and nurture what remains of me, and this will not be possible without those few friends and loved ones who patched me up and made the choice to stand with me when I was disintegrating. They rowed the boat to stubbornly beat on against the ruthless current.
We’re rearing the end of 2017 but before we reach its conclusion, allow me to thank those people who held me intact and believed that, in a cruel and unforgiving world, keeping a beating heart is already a victory.
Thank you, guys, for staying in my life and for simply being kind. This piece is for you.

Hellebore

Some nights, your absence rises from the bed and wakes me up. I’m dead tired but there are vacuities and sadness right now that won’t allow me to have my rest.
 
I don’t blame you for going but I regret the fact that I can never follow you. This is death. Irreconcilable and excruciatingly painful. I doubt if anyone can ever genuinely move on after each incident.
 
It’s Christmas again. A bland, empty celebration that I have to endure without you in it. Then comes new year. Then, twenty five days after that will mark the day I lost you for breast cancer.
 
Perhaps I will sleep through it all, like I always do. The carols, the lights, the fireworks, the feast. They have all ceased meaking meanings. Despite my writing skills I can’t even compose and give you a proper eulogy and I am so sorry for that.
 
Thing is, I don’t want to talk about you because it makes everything final. I don’t want anyone recounting your memories either because they do it in past tense.
 
Almost thirteen years. It’s still painful. And I am still counting.
 
Happy holidays, wherever you are. I love you in the most human and profound way that I can mean.

Into sea mists and sunsets

We’re literally verging on death and no one even bothered to properly orient us on what it would be like.

There’s the West Valley Fault, ready to strike a fatal blow that will make buildings crumble and set an entire city afire. There is always the Tokhang, a ruthless method that could practically annihilate and gun down anyone through gossips and word of mouth. There’s the brewing tension between the North Korea and the US, the possibility of nuclear war and bioterrorism breathing at the back of our necks.

Earlier today, a friend of mine witnessed an accident. A death, I hazard. Broken bones and crumpled body. A loud explosion, a worker coming face to face with electrocution. He fell from the roof of the footbridge, she said, near Session road. Mortality is easing up on us, she said.

So before any of these befall on us — any of these dooms — as it inevitably will, I would like to ask you to go out with me. We’ll go anywhere, anywhere at all. Everywhere, nowhere, wherever we want. We’ll talk and dance and scream and exist all at once. We’ll build bonfires and watch the stars and roll under the moon beams and in silence and anticipation, we will wait for the arrival of the morning light.

We will savour the last sliver of our days and we will hope. We will carry the splinters of our bones and we will find our way out of all these harms, into sea mists and sunsets in indigos and golds. We will never cease hoping. We will go on living and with each breath we draw against everything that happened to us, each beauty we make out of our sorrow and uncertainties, we will mock this grey, grey world.

In an unloved hinterland

Lately, all I want to do is stare at the ceiling and let my consciousness descend in the cellar of perpetual dreaming.

It happens, I guess. Friends vacate their spaces and walk quietly out of your life. Without warning, and sometimes, when we need them most.
 
All those times you’ve spent together, those nights you’ve skipped sleep just so you could drag them out of their loneliness before sunrise, all those they’ve buried in the farthest corner of their memories, to be left forgotten and cold like ordinary days.
 
I will let you be. It’s your prerogative to leave. I cannot make you stay, I can only give you a piece of myself as a parting gift — last cup of brewed coffee, a sleepover, random snack, crackling laughter, secret language, and a silent, desperate plea for you not to decamp and disappear.
 
If you do, do something for me, please? Walk away without noise. Leave a breath of your memory under my pillow where my hand would find them in the morning. Let them live on, in my mind, as you were, as we were.
 
I will plant trees and seek solace in the uninhabited forest of our bygone days. The olden times will no longer be drifting in exhaustion. In each leaf, I will build a cabin and a home and I will remember the time when you never asked questions, when you never judged, and when you were just kind.
 
I will remember the look of understanding in our eyes as I unraveled my thoughts and bled out. I will remember, always, when you reassured me that it is human to be vulnerable.
 
One day, we will find a way out of this harm and regain a kinder hope. And perhaps, in an unloved hinterland, a miracle will happen and the rain will dance, dearly, in barefoot.

Stumbling Proses

I.
Went to the beach today. The place was packed with merry yells and warm sand, gathering dusk and sea foam, last glimpse of the red sun and late afternoon salt water. I walked barefoot on the shore and conversed with people and savoured the wind and read a bit. Oh, the stubborn way we refuse to surrender hope and insist in transforming the pains of this bleak, bleak world into candid portraits of ecstacy.

II.
It’s April. A year ago, I was in Los Baños manically writing my manuscript. Life was neatly laid out — the goals for the next month, the thesis sections that needs to be filled, the diagram of existence that needs to be followed, all idealism burning afire.

Days used to be banal, until the collosal blow of everything hits you hard. Suddenly you are surrounded by weddings and childbirths and deaths of people close to you — the blend of excitement and loss passing through you and leaving cracks.

And there you are, on the bed somewhere, watching the soft, innocent gleam of the morning sun. The ball of your life rolls beside you, patched and pulsating, like the stubborn beatings of your wandering heart.

Another day? It asked.
Another day. You answered.

III.
The inside of my mind is filled with murky water. The scribbles of my thoughts are submerged in a sullen, silver mist. Sometimes I wonder if human existence is condemned to lead a life of phenomenological isolation.

And so we collect memories as we tread on, our days a montage of choices and sacrifices. We savour the strange contour of the mountains, we laugh here and there. We inhale the cold wind, love the innocent mornings, deliberately seek tranquility, and crave for our bygone childhood.

There are things we cannot share, and there are those we can but can never be understood. Still we hold on and nurse our hope — against sorrow and death and anything.

And this is what catches us when we fall.

Bleed out, girl

Went to the beach again today. In my better state, I would have jumped straight into the ocean and reveled in the current and folds of the undulating waves. I would have screamed in pure delight.

Ruefully, I am in no better state — I have not been for a while now. So I walked and walked and walked under the scorching sun.
 
I wanted to see the pine woods, and I did. It was brimming with people, hundreds of them, drinking and gawking and submerging everyone in sheer noise. Their tents were scattered randomly, everywhere.
 
The tranquility I’ve expected was crushed by morbid disappointment.
 
I feel so disconnected and isolated, and often, when I mingle with others, I find my body exhausted; my thoughts drifting in a far, misty place.
 
But I do — I do — crave the company of those I can be open and raw and honest with, without inhibitions and walls and rehearsals.
 
I’ve been reading the journal of Sylvia Plath and the letters of Vincent Van Gogh, and I find comfort in each entry.
 
I can almost hear the raspy voice of Vincent, his gasps and spaces in between words; I can almost feel the strain in the hands of Sylvia Plath. I can almost see the English countryside, the symmetry of French architecture, the wheatfields and downbridge of Provence and Antwerp.
 
Suffice it to say I feel less lonely — and less alone. This is the beauty of arts, I suppose, and it’s magic too. It burns, after all these years, from generations to generations, in all space and in all time, and it accompanies us in moments when we feel so isolated.
 
So, in the hour of our heartbreaks, we stubbornly defy the dastardly acts of this world with all the love that we can master. We refuse to surrender hope and insist in painting our candid portraits of merry yells and growing souls.
 
I almost accepted defeat, almost, but I realized that the brave thing and the right thing is to struggle, especially in moment like this.
 
So I will write and write and write — not for me but for anyone out there who may be bleeding and close to giving up and in dire need of a company, of a friend, who understands.