Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Scorch

plaza

I blame the scorching temperature for the splitting headache that’s been tormenting me for two days now. It feels as if my head could crack if I stayed outside for more than five minutes. And it’s too hot that one has to squint his eyes to be able to look straight at the road. Staring at the sky is definitely out of the question. Even with a good pair of sunglasses, looking at the sky would prove to be difficult—and stupid.

My nasal hypersensitivity—triggered by extreme temperatures, dusts, and foul smell—has also started to inflict me discomfort. Going out of the house these days can be a health risk, so I avoid doing so as much as I can.

It’s days like this when I long for the relief of being surrounded by trees—and nature in general, and breathing and feeling fresh cool air. A place with lots of trees would be sanctuary on days like this. I can’t help but think of the beach, too. Even a pool where I can stay for as long as I liked seems inviting. I can imagine how scalding it must be in places where there isn’t a single tree.

I wish people planted more trees than built more buildings. But since most of the time it seems inevitable to build buildings, I wish people also planted trees around them. I also wish our park here in the city were a real park where trees are abundant, instead of being an excuse-for-a-park as it is now with its bare and ungenerous ground, and unfitting location.


These days, a man’s best friend isn’t a furry animal that wags its tail as you’re approaching but a good air conditioner. Fortunately, I have one in my room. And this afternoon, as I take forty winks, I shall dream a place full of tall trees. With some birds perched on the branches, chirping. And a stream with crystalline water perhaps.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Slumber

slumber
 
Sleep. I have been having too much lately. Not because I choose to be idle, but because I can no longer take what daylight gives me.

I sleep. It makes me forget the things that pollute my consciousness. It brings me to an alternate world where I am free from the things I desperately try to run from in my waking days.

Running. I’ve been running away from myself. From the world. From people. I’ve been running not because I am afraid of it all. But because I am unable. After all this time, I still am unable. I’m tired of running, and so I sleep.

And although sleep only serves as temporary freedom, it does provide sanctuary. Sanctuary I’ve tried to find from people. Sanctuary people can’t give me. So I sleep.

And sleep becomes me. And I become sleep. We become one that I oftentimes forget how it is to sleep. I lay in bed motionless, mind blank, but not sleeping. I sometimes catch myself dreaming with eyes open. Dreaming of monsters, knights, a city full of zombies, vampire-infested night, endless oceans, roasted turkey, Amsterdamn, India, Greece, London, Toronto, princes in jeans and semi-fitting shirts, and witches. They make me happy. They give me childlike glee, so do full-moon nights, sounds of nightly creatures unseen from the bushes they hide behind. But these things, I no longer dream of them. They’re elusive no matter how hard I try to find them. So I sleep and sleep, in hope of dreaming of monsters, knights, princes, witches, zombies, full moon nights, sounds of nightly creatures, places, and vampire-infested nights.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

That Old Man

that old man

I walk up to a man sitting on the pavement with his legs crossed, a Styrofoam box beside him. This is the man I see every time I’d go home or go out at night. He sits on the same spot—a few steps from the huge neon sign that reads the name of the gasoline station. He’d sit like a statue—steady. Sometimes I pass by him sleeping, with his hands on the Styrofoam box as if afraid someone would steal his source of income. Sometimes, I’d see him shifting his gaze from all directions, as if counting the cars and tricycles that pass by. He wears a cap; hanging around his neck is a white towel I am certain bears the words “Good Morning.”  He is old, and this I say with deference.

I smile at him and say I would care for one the night. He opens the box, and hands me one warm fertilized duck egg. It isn’t warm, actually. It’s hot. I almost curse; instead I hold my tongue. I crack one end of the egg with my knuckle, not wanting to hit it against the pavement. He offers a plastic bottle of salt, and I take a pinch and sprinkle it on the cracked end of the egg. He asks if I’d care for some vinegar, I shake my head no.

As I tilt my head to drink the broth, I notice his indifference. Or is it exhaustion? As I peel off the shell of the egg, I can’t help but pay close attention to the man. Yes, it is more like observing. In the dimness of night, despite the incandescent lights of the posts nearby and the neon illuminations of the gas station’s signage, I can see his tired, if not weary, face. The lines on his forehead, the bags under his eyes. Certain features that cannot hide his age. He looks around and yawns, and I wonder what runs through his mind. I see weariness in his eyes, this I am sure of—it isn’t exhaustion.

I want to ask him questions after I devour the balot, but I think he isn’t the type to entertain questions. After all, we should only maintain our relations as buyer and vendor. He doesn’t care if I’m curious about him. He doesn’t care if I feel a tinge of pity for him. He doesn’t like it when people pity him. He’s trying to make a living for Christ’s sake. And it should be just that. Some people sell cars, he sells balot. That should be it. Period.

The wind gets a little chilly. I wipe my hands with my handkerchief, and check the time on my mobile. It’s twenty-seven past nine; the streets are starting to grow empty. A couple more hours and the streets will completely be empty, except for some speed maniacs who’ll drive around in their motorbikes like they have nine lives. A couple more hours and this man will be bored as shit; he may as well count the stars. A couple more hours and I’ll probably be tipsy somewhere with my friends or by my lonesome, if I'm unlucky. I wonder if he gets the chills.

I pay him twenty pesos, and as he fishes the change from his belt bag, I feel a tug in my chest. Does he have a family? Or is he living by himself? If he does live with his family, can’t someone else do this for him? He hands me a five-peso coin. I smile. He doesn’t return my smile, instead he looks at me with those weary eyes. Sad eyes. He looks at me for a second or so and then he looks away. He places his gaze on a distance. My throat dries. I turn my back.

I cross the other side of the street. He sits still, shifting his gaze everywhere. I feel the tug in my chest again. I look up at the sky. It’s a star-filled sky tonight. I avoid looking at his direction. I wait for a ride, and to my luck, I see a tricycle approaching.

I wave a hand briskly to call the driver’s attention. It stops right in front of me. I say my destination and the driver nods. I get in the tricycle, stealing one last look at the old man. His legs are crossed once again, and two men approach him. As my ride speeds off, I shake off the image of the old man away. I don’t need it. Tonight, while he sits on the pavement, I will sit on a chair or a bench somewhere. As he shifts his gaze from all directions, I will puff cigarette smoke into the air. As he sleeps waiting for a customer, I will drink bottles of beer. That should be it. There’s nothing I can do about it—no one can. Besides, does he even wonder why I’m drinking tonight? He doesn’t know if I am celebrating or I simply want to get wasted. He doesn’t care. And that should be it. Period.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cold Malfunction

Cold Malfunction

It has been two weeks since our fridge went kaput. The culprit was the intermittent power failure that fried some wiring, thereby rendering the compressor powerless. One can only imagine the anguish our family had to bear. We had our individual concerns (mom was worried about food getting stale and having to buy fresh items every other day, I was irritated that there wasn’t cold water to quench the thirst caused by the unbearable high temperature, my sister was disappointed at not having ice for when she wanted to indulge in some libation) that, on my part, ranted on me annoyingly every time I looked at the appliance that just stood on that same spot for three years now, minus the almost-inaudible hum it gave telling us it was still alive.

We had to use a makeshift storage for our food using a cooler that we had to put ice on every day. And it seemed the neighbourhood was in some sort of ice shortage, finding ice was next to finding a Grey’s Anatomy DVD at the mall. Two weeks seemed forever. We kept doing a follow-up at the service centre, in hope our misery would not last any longer.

Today, two men from the service centre came to our house bringing good news. Apparently, the compressor they had ordered finally arrived. To my disappointment though, the service personnel I was expecting was not one of the men who came. I was expecting to see that friendly face that had once been in my house to repair the same fridge with a different problem. See, we had been told that the same service personnel who fixed our fridge’s Freon problem last year, would be the ones to attend to our fridge this time.

Well, our fridge has been fixed. It’s alive again; I can hear that familiar hum it gives when I’d press my ear on its side. As a little celebration, we’re making desserts tonight.