Somehow, things ceased to matter: political affiliations, advocacies, philosophical subscriptions, hazzards, impending earthquake, pol-econ framework of analysis, social media clammor, mainstream vanity, involvement.
Their values unravelled and their corpses filled my life, converting the uninhabited house inside me into a crowded graveyard.
I’ve began avoiding people, especially those I know. Their presence subjugates my existence and wrapped all I could be in a sargasso of anxiety. I’ve ditched all social calls and all the paths I used to take. I worry, everyday, that I might bump into someone I know. I recede in the background and desperately beg invisibility to render me unnoticed.
This way, I feel safe.
But, in the midst of all this, at the heart of my isolation, there’s this deep-seated hope inside me that wants the mad universe to take over and, in the dappling vines of jasmine and wild narcissus, to make me bump into you, specifically and always, and to no one else.
It rained all day, a monotonous beating of exhausted hours against the roof, each droplet a second that feeds and magnifies your absence.
I am not used to this.
Not being with you in our beloved places, in the green mountains and its subtle, sun-drenched wind, those soft, golden beams dancing on the tip of the sharp-pointed leaves, falling in the Earth, melting on your hair and making you a sestina of everything that dazzles.
On the other side of this dream mirror, I am certain you are there. I can almost see the shroud of haze arising from your feet, clouding the honest blink of your eyes, the patient lines on the sides of your mouth, the intricate contours of your cheek bones, the timelessness of your laughter.
Perhaps, when I am better I can join you. Do tell, what was it like over there? Are the cities symmetrical? Are the buildings tame and not tyrants? Are there sea gulls, are they white, do they soar and burst and dive bravely into the ocean floor? Are thoughts made of pine woods, stars, crimson spirals, and still waters? Is tranquility made of hinterlands, reclusive owls, and sycamores?
Do you stitch hearts in thistles and myrtle leaves and evening dreams and piece it back together? Does the sun dance, ecstatically, in barefoot? Is there an endless dawn of liantris and corn flowers? Are the nights doused in the thousand fabrics of blooming jasmine?
Will you dispel the gloom?
It’s a bit dim but there is a beautiful memory deeply lodged in the indented piazza of my childhood recollection.
Like all the other kids, I have godmothers and godfathers. One of them, my godmother, is a couturier. This explains why my clothes back in the 90s were specifically tailored for me. Her husband, on the other hand, is a photographer.
My mom normally commissioned their services each time there was an event in town wherein I was invited to participate.
One time, my mother left me in their house. I don’t remember much about that day but I do remember a long, tenebrous corridor lined with stuffed animals.
By stuffed animals, I don’t mean toys made of fabric and cotton. I mean actual animals, dead and preserved and striking in their haunting beauty.
The trick there, I noticed, was the chip of glass planted inside their eyes. This was what made all of them flare with life.
At the foot of the stair, there stood two white wolves. Their mouths were half-opened; the crinkles on their snout boasted its prominence. They looked as if they were about to jump and slaughter their prey.
At the top of it was a cat, curled and sleeping. Except the cat was stuffed, like the wolves so it was not sleeping but dead. There was an owl tethered from the ceiling, there were rabbits and guinea pigs and other species of birds and dogs, and they all inhabited that long, tenebrous corridor.
I do not remember if there was a window at the end of it, but I remember walking in that musty hallway, lined with dead, stuff creatures and feeling not a nip of fear but a burning fascination. I remember the creaks of the wooden floor and the echoes of my footfalls.
I was five years old, and at that tender age, I have discovered my love for everything that is strange and remarkable.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No, I don’t expect the insides of your mind to be coherent and organized. I don’t believe there is a single person on Earth who possess that kind of well-regulated consciousness.
I understand that you are a fractured being, a montage of everything you’ve encountered in this cosmos — late passengers in the subway, long lost friends, the comfort of the falling rain, the pang of rejection, the bitterness of coffee that puts you to sleep.
No, I don’t expect you to be spotless and perfect. Doing so is an unrealistic conjecture. You are not spotless, and I perfectly understand why.
I imagine your inner landscape as a field of dandelions. It’s sunny at times — the bright sunlight piercing the sky of your consciousness, your dandelions swaying in your wind.
But you cannot be like that the whole time.
A sullen mist is bound to fall and engulf your consciousness. Your flowers will wither, your field will be submerged, you will be overwhelmed, always close to drowning.
You have sunny days and you have sullen mists, and I understand the co-existence of these two and how it makes you who you are. I don’t think you can ever dissociate one from the other, but if you ever succeed, I don’t think the outcome would still be you.
No, I don’t expect the insides of your mind to be coherent and organized. It is not possible. You are a montage of good days and bad days, a fractured, evolving being with a patched, beating heart.
With all your strength you try to hold your pieces intact, but there are times when, in the dead hours of the night, you simply want to let it all go. There is nothing wrong with that. Uncork your bottled feelings and pour me all your happiness. When there’s nothing left, pour me all your pain.
I am here to help you pick up your pieces if you ever fall apart.