Your wife. Misty eyes, she looked at me and asked about souls. I was stunned.
A band of cars and trucks sped past and sadistically mutilated the already mangled city. I watched them as I navigated the network of my reasoning. I bent down, picked, and exhumed the old superstitions I have learned in childhood.
“They say we still have them for 49 days after the internment. Then they depart, forever.”
She lifted the back of her right hand and brushed her eyes. “So he is still with us?”
I looked at the longing on her face. “He is still with you.”
I’m so sorry I lied that day.
When people die they do not truly disappear. Instead, their absence grows robust and demanding day by day. We see them — in the half-eaten plates, in every homecooked meal, in the empty chairs across us at the dinner table.
They are the cold, uninhabited side of the bed all year round. They are the white noise in the radio; the static one at the back of the telly. The loss proliferates and the longing magnifies. Their absence is an excavation in our lives and it hurts everywhere.
When she asked me about souls, this was what I had in mind but I held it back. I do not have the heart to break her further that day so I told her about the superstitions I do not believe in.
“His ears will be on the swells of your breasts and with each heartbeat, he’ll be proud to know that you keep your ground and fight life back,” I assured her.
She pressed her head on my shoulder and willed a smile. I watched a lock of her hair as it fell, slowly, on the sides of my arm.
Your wife. She proudly carries her scars and lets them flap in the wind like a banner of victory.
You are the still, bright lake on a summer day; you are the dew drops at the tip of each leaf on misty afternoons. You are the luminous smoke from a mug of coffee on cold evenings and you are the rain who dances in barefoot in my sunken places.
You are the tender hand on my hair, the kiss on my left temple, the pauses in my erratic life, the keeper of secret happiness and stolen glances. You are the sun beams of the lost forests and you are the home of this drifting fog.
You put order in my existence and the years of this lifetime will never be sufficient to show my gratitude.
Ich verstehe dass Sie sind nicht immer vollständig. You’ve ventured too long and too far and you’ve lost yourself in the process.
Now it is my turn — and this is for you.
When two universes collapse and explode, they will produce gold. And if you hold your ground against these beatings and disappointments and endless exhaustion, you will be the living prodigy of this transcendental phenomenon.
So courage, dear heart. You have a world to love.
I HATE MANILA WITH ALL THE PASSION THAT I CAN MUSTER. I HATE THAT GHASTLY PLACE. I HATE EVERYTHING IN IT, EVERY CORNER, EVERY CAR. I HATE ITS INHUMANE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES. I HATE ITS LACK OF URBAN PLANNING. I HATE THE HEAT AND DUST AND CROWD. I HATE THE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY THE PEOPLE IN THE EMBASSY IMPOSED UPON THOSE WHO WANT TO LEAVE THIS LAND. I HATE THEIR INABILITY TO COMPREHEND THAT THERE IS NOTHING WORTH STAYING IN THIS COUNTRY. I HATE THE FACT THAT THEY DEMAND THE PEOPLE TO STAY AND LIVE WITH CROCODILES. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LET US OUT AND LET THE CROCODILES DEVOUR EVERY PARCEL OF GHASTLY LAND HEREIN.
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?