WHY?

Why are we drawn and easily tempted by what destroys us the most? Why were we designed to become fragile and isolated entities? Why did nature made us this way? Why were we nurtured through societal matters? Why are we who we are today? Why am I so drunk? Why am I opening up myself to you? Why am I not loved? Why are you lying? Why are you afraid? Why am I lonely? Why do I have these nightmares? Why am I the way I am, separated from you? Why? Why? Why?

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Crazy Alice

It took me almost five years to remember everything, everything that has happened five years ago from the very day right at the moment. Now, I realized that memories are not faithful. Memories aren’t loyal, not to you, not to me, or to anybody else in this piece of crap place. They’re just a bunch of crazy adulterers who likes to fuck you up in the head. Maybe I guess Nietzsche was right when he said that blessed are the forgetful. I guess a self-inflicted amnesia is way cooler than anything else but what’s scary is that, one day, after a cluster of months or maybe years have passed, the very thing that you have learned to forget comes rushing in back to you all of a sudden, even without a stimulus or anything. It would just pop right in and ruin your entire day.

I don’t want to start this with “Five years ago.” No. It’s just not my thing. I want to start from now, from where I am and what I am. And I’m going to start this by describing the state of my mind. Have you ever seen a garbage truck pass right In front of you? Have you seen all the trashes and shit inside? That’s what my mind is like right now. It’s full of scattered and battered and rotting shit that organizing won’t do them justice. And when you see that truck, that’s full of shit, pass by right in front of you, you hold your breath or run to the nearest spot and bury a corner there or vomit. Yes, vomit. I feel like vomiting right now, just thinking about what’s in my head.

Now you probably think that I’m exaggerating or that I’m not making much sense but here’s what, truth be told, there’s never a time that I made any sense. Not to me and neither to everybody else in this goddamned planet called Sodom. This place that we live in I call it the Devil’s Playground. Now, I’m not talking about occult stuff and all that jazz.  It’s just that: Devil’s Playground. It’s a snappy name for a place, isn’t it?  It reminds me a bit of Salmonella Men on Planet Porno. I maybe a bit, okay, I may be shitty at explaining things but please bear with me and my insanity. It’s not every day that you get to hear or read about what’s going on inside other people’s heads right? Call this psychic brain activity reading. I know it doesn’t really sound cool, but I seriously don’t give damn.

I don’t think this kind of approach is working at all. So let me rephrase what I said before and allow me to start from five years ago. The thing is, five years ago, I really can’t remember what happened. See? My memory just betrayed me again!

TROLOLOLOLOL

Night Diving

I was told that I would meet her one night.

One night on the first night of a full moon.

Who is she? I have not the vaguest idea just as I have no idea who I was and who I am. I was told that she was born on a month where three full moons took place. She was born at a time when the sun was halfway sinking into another world and the moon was emerging, halfway surfacing from where the sun left off, filling the gap, maintaining the balance.

What a nice time to be born, I thought.

I was told to do the same thing to her like what I did to the other Lights that I have dealt with. I have to say that I’m quite good at my job but only this time it never dawned on me that she had the ability to prove me wrong. But I was too stupid to understand then. I could not understand that what I did was something that I never should have done. There was no room for excuses.

But back then, stupid as I am, what could I do? I was far from being human even if I do look like one. As I watch the world and all the creatures living in it share the same air, I can’t help but dream and think to my thoughts’ extent. Soon, sadly, reality brought me back to my senses.

What good would my dreaming do if I can’t feel anything at all?

What good would these countless dreams and thoughts do if I only keep them to myself, if there is zero possibility of them coming true?

Dreams are dreams, after all. There’s no other way to put them. No other words to describe them.

As much as my thoughts go, my dreams started to present themselves upon me. When I dream, I could go all the way, I can do almost anything, everything. Whenever I dream, I can be who I want to be and somehow, along the lines, I started to think that dreaming might be the only thing that I’m good at.

Whenever I dream, I feel like nothing could ever go wrong. All the difficulties that I face would just disappear even if it means that I’m weak, even if it means that I’m living a boring, non-existent life.

Just then, I learned something.

I learned that if I try to use these dreams as my fuel for living, one day, unfortunately, I’m going to find myself burning.

One day.

Like anyone else in this strange round world, I too, have a story to tell.

A story about what?

I have no idea.

Maybe, just maybe, when I have written the very last word only then will I know what kind of story it is.

Probably.

But I can tell you this much: it started with a cup and a coffee in it.

Now, I warn you.

When you are alone in the dark, sitting, thoughts running round and round inside your head and you happen to have a cup of coffee in front of you, be careful.

In fact, be very careful.

If the coffee starts to ripple on its own with no apparent reason and when you start to hear a soft spark of static–

Leave!

Run before he can make you risk one thing in your life that may cost you everything.

Leave!

Run as fast as you can before you can have the chance to trade all that you are in exchange for nothing.

Leave if you still want to remain human.

I’m telling you this not because I have learned how to be kind or that I don’t want you to experience what I had to go through. I’m doing this because I just feel like it.

Now, I blame it all on the moment.

What happened to me was something that was meant to happen to me alone, not to you or anyone else. I was sitting in the dark with a coffee right before me, young and innocent, indifferent to the world. The coffee rippled and I heard a strange sound.

I didn’t know back then. No one warned me.

I was not able to leave, remained rooted to where I was sitting and because of this, I became a Night Diver.

The nights that have passed drowned me, it seems. It could be that I drowned in an ocean or a well.

Who knows?

And just as I have drowned, a strange feeling overwhelmed me to my core.

A feeling that I am no longer myself.

Perhaps I did not even drown but instead I was swallowed.

By what?

I fear to know.

I do not know when or where this strange feeling took hold of me. Maybe it happened while I was fast asleep or perhaps it’s happening right now.

Yes, right at this very moment.

I breathed the darkness that I can see around me as I listened to the silence whispering in my ears. My new-found heart beats steadily, thumping inside my chest, pumping blood.

Is this what it feels like to be human?

Is this what humans feel?

I have never felt this kind of steady warmth before but a thought struck me that somehow, along my long forgotten past, I might have been a real human myself and this warmth that I feel is something that takes place everyday, naturally.

But how could I possibly know?

I have long abandoned the search for my past. The heart that is beating madly inside my chest right now does not give me even the slightest taste of nostalgia and this made me realize that just when I was over chasing after who I was, regret took place.

If only, I thought.

If only my memories did not betray me then perhaps I can, little by little, remember my past and see that I used to have a heart. Right now all I can do is jump into a series of hopeless confusions of what I want to believe because this self-inflicted idea that I used to have a heart appears to be strong. I can’t help myself but enjoy in its continuous beating against the night bathed in silence.

I wonder if this is just a dream.

If so, then I don’t want to wake up. I don’t really matter to the world anyway. I’m just a piece of something who’s bound to do things like breaking people and taking away their shadows.

But what if this is not a dream?

Then I’ll just continue to lie here in the dark until I have managed to assure myself that this is not a dream.

I might be dreaming too much for my own good.

Too much that I can no longer handle it. Endlessly, everyday, I dream to the point that it seems as if it took over reality, as if reality is just some lame idea.

But then again, isn’t this just a state of mind?

I wonder if humans, at some point in their lives, experience this too. Now that I have a heart, a heart that she gave me, I can’t seem to cope  with the loneliness that comes with it. I soon realized that dreaming alone can drive you to a point where you can no longer let it go, until there’s no road left for you to turn.

You’re stuck there.

In the corner.

You’re shivering, hopeless, helpless.

And you no longer know where to go from there.

Engrossed.

I came to a point where I want to fully immerse myself in my dreams. I could leave everything, abandon everything and just let myself dream over and over again. I thought that if I could just forget about the memories that were stolen from me and the fact that they were stolen and instead compensate the loss with dreams then I’ll be able to live just fine.

But I was wrong.

Just as I was wrong with a lot of things.

How complicated it is to be human.

I turned bitter and hatred took over me. I never thought that having a heart would hurt so much. I never thought that this would happen to me.

Dreams.

My dreams have blinded me just as I thought that having a heart would save me.

The warmth that I feel transformed into something different, something remorseful.

Something ugly.

Is this what being human means?

Lonely, desperate, angry, foolish?

Then, as if by reflex, I started to dream again about how I used to be before I met her, before she gave me a heart until it shook me that I’m dreaming all over again.

There’s only one thing to do now.

One thing that will end this and make everything fall into place. One thing to do.

Go back.

Go back to the point where I first met her and go over the things that took place since then. Go back and recall all the words that were spoken, all the events that took place and the road that brought me to this dark corner. Go back even if it means sitting in the dark with a cup of coffee right before me and wait.

Wait until it starts to ripple on its own.

Sayonara, Eri

さよなら、えり

She kept telling me to love myself, to find someone to live for, to be selfish. But there are things about myself that I need to hide. I continued to walk away on the dark street illuminated dimly by the street lights. Farther ahead to my right, in the corner of the street, the street light that was standing in the solitude keeps on wavering. Dying and coming back to life over and over again as if it was thinking which one was the best option. To die in the dark and be replaced by a new bright light and people would always choose the latter.

As the street light continued with its battle, so was the battle inside my head. I’m wondering if I should look back and watch her figure retreat into the distance. Today was the beginning of our parting and I know that I will never see her again. I was told that this inevitable day would come. Our time has ran out.

I walked on, fearing that if I look back, I might see her looking at me with her big eyes instead of seeing her walk away and the fear made me walk even farther from the chance of seeing her for the last time. It was now or never. I questioned my head over and over again if I really want to look back but what was breaking me was the antagonizing difficulty of being unsure with myself. Will I remain true to myself until the very last moment or will I continue to hide instead of facing the main question that I have inside me? Do I really want to leave her?

The society’s informant who goes by the name of Shiro told me that I must break her. Looking back at the time before I met her, I realized how wrong about her. I thought back then that I was more than prepared to deal with her, over-confident with my self. But when I first saw her at Shiro’s coffee shop, it dawned on me that the person I had laid eyes on was not the person that I had pictured in my mind.

As the days passed by and I got to know her little by little, I started to feel that I was spinning out of control. All her mundane beliefs wore me down and it even made me question my very own existence. Her questions, ideas and words were as random as the thoughts in her head and whenever she would say them out loud, I can’t help but answer her with a shaky voice.

Now the last chance of seeing her has long gone away, expired. Lighting a cigarette, I find myself sitting in a bench at the park close by the hushed train station. Two hours had already passed since the last train called it a day and now it’s quite impossible for me to go home without spending too much money but the thought of going home has long gone away too and it was as if she took it away with her the moment that she turned her back at me just as I took something away from her.

Releasing a puff of smoke, her voice echoed around the walls of my now weary head and I wished that there is a way to just stop thinking and let my mind go black without telling it to do so. Reminiscing back the times that we had spent together, I suddenly remembered that all we have ever talked about were painful things and every single time that she would sigh or smile, it made the pain even more intense. Her eyes were dark and deep, clear, but you could not see anything from within like a pair of glass windows that reflect your own face instead of seeing what is on the inside.

Sometimes, it seems to me as if her eyes were meant only to see what was happening outside and once she had stored them all in her mind, her eyes would lock them away instantly. It surprises me sometimes when I would notice a thing or two peeking from her eyes, surfacing for a mere second or two them hide back again in the depths, in the dark.

Once, she asked me if people really accept the love that they think they deserve or do they accept the love just to be polite or just out of a simple pity. She told me that the question kept her up all night as she thought about it, going back and forth without reaching a conclusion.

I knew that I lost the battle halfway before I left her. I couldn’t just shake her and I couldn’t even break her. Emotions, they say, as long as they’re deeply engraved in the heart are difficult to remove no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try to obliterate them. Even if you scream at them loudly, they just won’t disappear. And it was when I understood that all her emotions are nailed deeply into her heart and there was no way I could possibly remove them. I thought that if I could only remove all of her emotions and hide them in a place where she could never find them then it might be possible that I could break her. If only I could leave her empty, devoid of everything then I might have won this fight. But she’s human, isn’t she? And humans always find a  way to feel something, even pain, even the most hurtful feeling there is.

Then and there, I understood that her emotions are rooted deeply inside her already broken heart. For years and years she harbored strong feelings of darkness inside her and allowed them to well up inside her. I thought that if I could only find a way to remove them one by one and hide them in a place where she can’t find them, then it might be possible that I could break her. If only I can find a way to leave her empty, rob her of everything, then I might have won this fight but I was out of time, I was out of time that I fell in love with her.

She asked me, Yuu, her voice soft, do we really accept the love we think that we actually deserve? Or do we accept it just to be polite? Last night I was up for hours just thinking about it. Sometimes I couldn’t find it in me to answer her questions and I knew that being evasive was all I could think of to counter her.

Once, she told me that our emotions don’t really last. She said that hatred stays the longest. A point in her life came where hatred took hold of her and made her do some things that she thought she could never do but after a long time, she felt that she grew accustomed to the hatred that eventually, she started to forget the feeling that she used to feel.

“But it’s not the same as it going away right, Yuu?” When she told me about this her eyes were playing tricks on me that it made me feel as if she was silently smiling but her next words made me doubt myself.

“But what if,” she continued, “what if you try to trample it with another emotion? You know, like overwriting it. Do you think it will really disappear and instead become something new? I really think that it would be very difficult and it might even take a long time, especially if you don’t really want the feeling to go away and disappear.”

See. This is what I’m talking about. Why can’t she be like anybody else in this world? Why is it that she revels and live by with this string of unwanted emotions that most people want to throw  away?I’ve heard that people want to be happy, always happy. Thinking back, I don’t think that she had ever mentioned that word when we were together.

If I could only meet her again someday, if only it is possible that I could see her again then perhaps I’d have the chance to ask her if she had been happy even just for a short time in her life. But maybe when that time comes, I might have forgotten about this just as I told her that someday the both of us will forget about everything, even the fact that we have met.

Neither of us said goodbye. The word wasn’t uttered when we last saw each other. Now, who knows? Since neither of us said goodbye then there might be a chance, even just a small possibility, of us meeting along the way. Who knows?

I used to wonder why she keeps on dwelling on to her sadness, hatred, and loneliness. I’m not sure if she’s doing it because she’s bitter to the world or it could be that she’s actually doing it on purpose. Maybe she thought that since nobody in this world wanted to hold on to such emotions, she’d hold them and protect them instead but when she realized that one person cannot bear to carry such heavy weight, she finally let them took hold of her instead.

I’m nothing but a mere mere cluster of memories to her now just as she is to me at this moment. Now all I could possibly do is to remember her, remember every little thing that we have talked about and the places that we have been to before it all goes away. All I could do now is just to remember and soon forget.

“Eri,” I said to her, “you once told me that hatred is the hardest. You also told me that it clings to you as if it has sharp claws and the more it sticks, the more it hurts but can I really trust you when you told me that? Anyone can say foolish things once in a while. Talk is cheap, after all and you, I know you could be lying to me right now.” That time, I knew that I wasn’t going to her an answer for she looked up above and told me how beautiful the moon was as if I was blind.

Somewhere inside of her, I knew, that her heart would be untrue, even to herself. She lied for me as if she knew that I was going to break her, she lied for me knowing that she was only saving me. Maybe God knew that this was going to happen, that she was going to meet me someday and so God gave her big eyes so she could see everything, so she could see through me.

Somewhere inside of her, I always knew that her heart would remain untrue and that as long as she’s carrying the same heart with her, she’s not going to change. She even lied for my sake as if she knew that I was going to break her. She lied for me without me knowing that she was doing it to save me but it was already too late when I came to realize it. Maybe God knew that this was going to happen and so He gave her big eyes so she could see everything, even what’s far ahead of her, so she could see through me.

In spite of all the things that I did and in spite of all the cruel words that I have said to her, she still welcomed me as if she was the kindest person there is. She accepted me even if I myself was the one whom I held the dearest. I was selfish and used her for my own salvation to break myself free from this never ending night. I was selfish just as she said she was. Somewhere from long ago, I once heard that words reflect how a person really is but in her case it was different. I knew that she was lying the very moment that I met her.

Until the end I was unfair to her. I knew that it would kill her if she won’t be the first one to say goodbye or to leave and on the other side, she knew that it would kill me if I would realize right away that she was already broken even before I met her. When she gave me her heart I understood that it was her way of saying that she saved me. In the end, she lost the ability to love and thought that having a heart no longer makes any sense.

“We both killed each other, didn’t we, Eri?” I said to no one, “In the end we both killed each other without as much as a goodbye.”

I wonder if someday she’ll be able to find a way to love herself.

Then, flicking away the cigarette, I stood up and walked away.

Sayonara, Yuu

さよなら、ゆう

I always make the mistake of saying impulsively what pops inside my head without taking into consideration the circumstances or the feelings of those around me and now I fully regret the fact that I didn’t go all the way.

I suppose you might think how utterly pathetic this sounds but being me, I could not care less. I have had enough of the whole thing about judging others and being judged by them. I think that simple foolish mediocrities are sometimes essential for humans to live otherwise things in this world would look like trash next to a black and white painting on a completely dull concrete and unpainted wall.

From all the words that you have come upon, you’re probably thinking right now that somehow you have an idea about the kind of person that I am and maybe you’re even starting to stereotype me like how most people stereotype other people but ending up being stereotyped themselves.  Though I have to point out and say that you have it all wrong inside that head of yours. In fact, I don’t even cut close to that person you’re imagining at the moment.

That’s not who I am. That’s not me. I’m not inside your head, I’m here. I know that what I’ve just said shot like a dart to a specific feeling in you that can be provoked by even the littlest amount of bullshit. Pride? Or could it possibly be your ego? And if you think that you don’t want to admit it, then I probably hit the right spot. Bulls eye!

I’ve never asked anyone for anything but this time I will. I’ll take out a pint of my pride and ask you to lend me your ears. Each of us have our own pride, right? Even a dictionary has one too, listed in the P section. I believe yours is scraped at the moment but don’t worry, you won’t die from just a scrape and it’s not like it’s bleeding anyway. No need for you to call 911. No need to be so dramatic about it. No need to overreact.

As what I have said, I’ll take a bit of my pride for you. So you probably have an idea how I feel at the very moment. So lend me your ears and a bit of your time too, if you can. If you don’t want to, thinking that I sound arrogant, then don’t worry. You can just throw this away or better yet just burn this. Yes, burn this. Burn this and we’ll know who’s arrogant and who’s not. So decide now. Stay or say goodbye.

Goodbye. The word echoes in my head. How strange it is that a single simple word can make me feel so alive. I remember one night on a full moon. I was sitting at the side of a deserted road, watching the city sleep when I noticed the stars hanging up above me in the night sky. At first, I saw how little the stars were at that night and thought to myself that I could possibly count them.

I looked up, prepared myself and counted the very first star that was rooted close to the bright moon. I moved on to the next and then the other one until I gradually grew frustrated, neck aching from the whole act. What I saw at first was an illusion. Maybe the moon tricked me or could it be that my own eyes tricked me. When I looked closely after a while, no longer counting, the few starts that I saw grew in numbers, challenging me. So I gave up. There was no way to count them, no way for my naked eyes to see them. There was no way that I could bear such an army of glowing orbs. Since then, I never gave it another try. Stars aren’t meant to be counted anyway. What’s the point? It could go on forever.

Now that I’m done counting stars, I’m starting to wonder. How many times have I said goodbye? I can’t even remember how many people faced my cold goodbyes but I can only remember the joy that I used to feel just by merely saying the word and meaning it with my whole heart. It’s always interesting to see how people react, so amusing to hear what they have to say. Goodbye is the only word that I have used so much than I can count and the thrill of saying it again in the future is enough for me to live. I’ve abused the word to the extent that I no longer know what it really means. How about you? What do you think goodbye means? Now, keep that all in your head. I don’t really want to hear what you think what goodbye means. Your meaning of goodbye might be different from what I have in mind.

But that isn’t the issue here. I was the reason why he came here and I was the reason why I left. It was because I was selfish. Now I think I know why he disappeared without as much as a goodbye from his lips and now that I have finally accepted the fact that I might not see him again, only did the fuzzy memory of our parting sank into my chest, heavy and enormous that I started to feel as if I’m about to choke. I’m starting to fear then that my body will break, my bones will shatter, my skin will tear off. Just thinking of the physical pain that I will feel makes me shiver and hide. I no longer care what I will feel on the inside.

He used to tell me things that I could not understand. We talked a lot every time that we meet, at the coffee shop, at the park, or even by the road. It didn’t matter to me back then if his words failed to reach my understanding or if I can make mean to what he exactly had in mind as long as we could talk. But now that he’s gone, I can think about him as much as I want to but then I realized that each memory of our meetings looked different now. It feels different as if every memory of him in my head was affected when he left.

I knew from the start that this was going to happen. I have even prepared myself and I think that he knows that both of us will arrive in a dead end. Panic started to wash down on me just as all the goodbyes that I have let go are turning against me, punishing me, waging a war that was meant for me to lose from the beginning.

The heaven stopped crying but the smell of the rain lingered distinctively. Everything around us started to look out of place now that it’s much clear to see with the rain gone. The strangers passing by have this irritated look in their faces, the cars honking loudly. Was it perhaps because of the rain? How could the rain bother them so much?

One day, he said, one day you’re going to forget everyday that you have spent with me by your side. You will forget everything, even the very fact that we were here and that we are here. Unfortunately, he continued, both of us will forget everything, eventually.

Do you see that cherry tree over there? He asked me, pointing to the large tree by the pond with its flowers in full bloom and its branches conversing with the wind. What could they be talking about? I thought to myself and just then, he seemed to realize that my mind was drifting away, he spoke again. One day, he said, the endings and exits that you made would be joined up again like those branches but it won’t happen on a spring. It will happen on a winter.

The leaves will fall on the ground, he told me, the flowers will drop and wilt and it’s going to be the same with you. Like a dried up branch with a sharp end and naked, naked for the whole world to see how it had become.

Am I supposed to feel scared now? I asked him and got a smile in return.

I didn’t know what else to say after that and it seemed to me that his smile was trying to conceal something. It was as if his smile was some sort of a chaser after downing a shot of something that burns your throat. When I realized this, the walls around me piled up even higher than it already is and I heard something inside me stir. We decided to leave the place and started to walk along the bustling sidewalk, not really going to anywhere particular.

Bidding our time, we walked in silence and kept our thoughts to ourselves. I had no idea what he’s thinking and I have no interest in knowing. What bothered me that time was the unknown feeling inside me that was triggered by his smile. It bothered me even more that I more or less know what it is but I just can’t bring myself to confront and face the devil. One thing’s for sure though. That time, the feeling inside me was something close to disgust.

When people are in love, he said, they’re not capable of saying hurtful words. If only every human being would live their lives remembering how it felt to love someone then harsh words are no longer needed.

But people, he said, people live to push other people away just like what you always do and soon enough, we both know that you’re going to push me away too. He laughed and looked into my hollow eyes as we stood there side by side waiting for the green light. People push people away, he continued, only to pull them back closer again. But you, you’re different. You push people away even if it’s just for kicks or not. You push them away as far as you can and then you kill them. And then you leave them, they continue to die wondering what the hell happened. His eyes were twinkling just like the city lights around us as we crossed the street.

We continued to walk and entered a jazz bar, found a seat by the window and ordered two beers as we listened to Frank Sinatra’s Night and Day playing softly on the speakers.

Why do you think people are kind? I asked him but I didn’t get an answer. It was better than experiencing his sly smile again, knowing that I have not yet recovered from it. Plus, I wasn’t in the mood to play the role of a code breaker who can’t even break the the codes swarming in and out of her head.

Yuu, I said, do you still have enough of your heart left for yourself? How can you not be selfish for once in your life? It’s your heart, I told him. It’s your heart and you should use it for yourself even just for once in your life. I spoke these words to him without holding back thinking that I could at least hurt him.

Your heart, Yuu. Your heart has always been there for someone else’s sake. Tell me, I said to him looking directly in his eyes. Tell me just how much have you been able to love yourself? He avoided my gaze and instead looked outside the window where the cars passed by, where people passed by. It was only later on when I realized that he wasn’t like me, like anyone of us. That time, I was too foolish to even see what was going on, Yuu didn’t have a heart.

Our hearts, his voice shaky, are always hiding silently behind our words while endlessly beating, never tiring. Eri, why is it that God created us with our hearts so deep inside us? Here you are telling me to love myself but look at you, you who kept your heart to yourself when even the world knows that you don’t love yourself.

A deafening gap of silence took place within our space that night just as the song ended outside our realm. I started to think that time if there was any way for me to reach out to that place and just run away.  But what he said just trapped me and even if I wanted to leave, something’s telling me that I must not at all cost because our time was running out.

You loved, didn’t you? I heard his voice. You loved so much that you allowed yourself to whither.

Just then, I felt something slide down my cheeks. How could this be happening? Isn’t it that when people are about to cry they would first feel their chest tighten up? Moreover  is this the reason why we, people, are weak? Are we weak because we know how to shed tears? Or is it because we can be killed by our feelings? I looked at him and wished that if only I had the ability to incinerate someone by merely looking at them but such things are impossible, not in this world that I know of. But then again, imagining is free right? It ticked me off even more when he pretended not to notice and was instead looking around him seemingly uninterested and bored.

Days passed on after that. I lived my life as normally as I could and he lived his. The next time that I saw him was out of a chance encounter. That day, I wanted to be just by myself. Perhaps it surprised me because he saw me first. I was just walking when I saw in my peripheral view that the person walking towards me stopped a couple of inches away from where I was. I wasn’t particularly looking nor paying attention but this time I looked up and saw him looking directly at me, right in front of me. A minute didn’t pass before he grabbed my hand and pulled me to the nearest place where we could talk.

Everyone is just the same, right, Yuu? We all have someone who is living just for us. I spoke those words to him as we faced each other, looking at each other’s eyes yet seeing nothing but the face reflected within. If so, I said, why is it that you have no one that you’re living for?

I wonder if I can find that someone, someday. He said. I wonder if I can become someone like you. Just how much do you think I can give myself to that person? He sighed and smiled as I felt his breath warm my cheeks. That time, I knew that he was silently praying so he could never hate me because he knew that my heart is the only thing that could save him yet my heart has grown weak over time and has withered. What salvation could a broken do for someone as empty as him?

I needed to hear from him the reason why he left but just how much poison can I still swallow? He’s been gone far too long now that the days that have passed by took his face away from me. I started to forget the color of his eyes, his hair. I started to forget what he looked like when he smiles and the way he walks.

As my emotions continued to dash to and fro, the red lights around me danced beautifully together with my sorrow. The lights, they were too overwhelming for me to see. His words, our words, drowned inside me, taking over the place where my heart used to be and now I’m here, wondering where he could be at the moment. After all, even with the both of us blind-folded by the harsh distance are still under the same sky, living in the same world, illuminated by the same old moon. And as I looked up and searched the stars, I wondered if he’s looking at them too, wherever he could be. Aren’t they beautiful, Yuu? All I could do now was pretend that he was still right beside me, talking to me like he always do.

We were standing side by side on the platform waiting for the last train of the day. I remember it was a Friday and the air was quite chilly but I’m used to the cold that it didn’t bother me. Whether it was from the outside or the inside, it no longer matters. At least that’s what I feel.

I felt uneasy that night, I remembered. It was as if something’s eating me, as if there’s something I have to do. Hearts break, Yuu. I whispered. I no longer need things that break that’s why I gave you my heart. Hearts break and I don’t want that. I know you want me to ask for your heart now, be that person you can live for but I can’t take it back. It’s your to keep now, yours to heal. It’s been yours ever since the first time that we met.

Then, he took my hand and I felt a momentary gush of warmth and the warmth started to spread like wildfire throughout my body and just as it filled the whole of me, it disappeared.

I wonder if someday he’d be able to find a way how to love himself even if the heart beating inside him was already broken.

Blood Bank

BLOOD BANK

for memories

we wish

we will never,

ever,

never ever forget

…and the baffled king composed the Hallelujah.

Dear Sister Alyssa,

            If you could have a deal with God, get him to swap places, what would you do?

            What would you do if you could be that very God written in the Bible you keep by your bedside, if you could be that God whom people go down on their knees to pray and worship? What would you do? How would you feel? Do you think you’ll be pleased enough if David plays a song for you?

            I’m sorry that I was born to grow up like this, you know, a heretic, much less self-proclaimed. This isn’t even genetic so please leave how my family brought me up out of this. They aren’t actually at fault according to the law that you observe, or so I think. In fact, they were pretty much devout that it chokes me, it suffocates me. I feel like as if I’m at the back of a crowded elevator full of people, skin on skin, sweat pouring out of their pores, mixed breath creeping in the air.  You know how I was brought up since I told you my sad excuse for a life story during our first meeting. I also recalled bringing a dozen of eggs along with me as required, or is it really required?

            What do you do to those eggs anyway? I know a lot of people visit the monastery and they would usually bring a dozen of eggs so how do you keep all of them? DO you eat all of them together with your fellow sisters? Do you sell them? Or what? I’d really like to know.

            Anyways, if you ask me, if I could have a deal with God and get him to swap our places, I’d be running up the hill. I’d run up the hill and never get tired. I’d run up the hill.

Yours,

Emily

 

ICHI

One two three four five six…

Seven eight nine ten.

Ten to twenty.

Twenty to thirty.

Thirty to thirty-one.

31

She counted again, counted the thin red lines under her breath. She counted and traced the red swollen work of art on her wrists. Thirty-one cuts etched on both her wrists that night. There wasn’t even much blood to begin with, no there just wasn’t, but the blood that she was able to harvest from her pale flesh was enough to drench her brown handkerchief wet and red but she was not contented.

It was intentional, the slashing of her wrists, not the act of suicide. She won’t die now, it’s not yet her time and she’s very much aware of it. It’s a fact she was able to gather from intuition, fear, and pure instinct. She’s not even the type of girl who’s into what her friends refer to as S&M.

“It’s bullshit.” She said, long ago, when she and her friends were inside a vacant classroom, hiding from the melting heat of the sun and amusing each other with their individual sexual exploits, talking about sex, about humping, intercourse, about fornication, about what a male and a female specie do when both a horny and both enflamed with raging hormones.

Emi, a girl of 16, decided that she liked what she did on her wrists. She liked the blood and the pain, oh, the self-inflicted pain.

NI

“I’d like you to take these. One tablet each per day after you’ve eaten your breakfast,” the doctor said, “they will help you. See you on your next appointment.”

Now, isn’t this always the way?

The doctor looked up at her after scribbling down on her prescription pad with a practiced smile on her face. Emily stood up from the chair and left the shrink’s office. Spotting a nearby pharmacy after exiting the building, she headed there and went straight to the counter. After her business, she left with what her shrink said could help her.

She started to feel extravagant; no tinge of self-pity is visible on her face. Long ago, she’s been wanting to go to a shrink’s office and now she got her wish and the pills inside her bag made her feel as in she’s just brought 6 pairs of fuck-me-pumps. She’s excited to try the pills tomorrow, excited to feel what she might feel.

SAN

Three months ago, after she left the city, Emi told me a story with detailed information about what happened, a story about herself, about her forced experience. One night, or so she said, she focused her eyes on the bright screen. The letters were blurry, the colors mixing together. She said she blinked hard, gluing her eyelids hard shut together then fluttered her eyes as slow as she can until her eyes propped open wide and about.

That time, in every single second, she felt like her mind is shutting down into a forced form of sleep. She barely moved and told me that her shoulders were slouched against the white painted wall while sitting Indian style. “Why is it called Indian style anyway?” Emi asked me, “Maybe some other people coming from different parts around the world pretty much sits that was too then it was just stereotyped.” I only shrugged my shoulders at her as a form of reply and she only gave me a warm smile. “Maybe they called it Indian style to make things less boring, don’t you think?” She added. That night, the thoughts inside her head were in full speed and Emi thought if it would kill her to take another dose of the pill prescribed by her doctor. She said that the thought of her taking another pill went to another plane which too of right away and came back on full speed at the runaway after a snap bringing another new set of passengers. “I was feeling weak by then,” she said, “but I fought against it.”

Emily told me what “world” she was in that night. She said she can still remember how the air conditioner hummed or how her room smelt of a homey vanilla scent and those two things made her want to snuggle her pillow and fall into oblivion but as planned, she wasn’t going to give in. Slowly, she stretched her legs and stood up with her head spinning like mad, adrenaline rush reversed. The floor started to incline and shake like there’s an earthquake. “Was there an earthquake that night?” She asked me and I told her no, not that I can remember. “Hmm,” she only said. Continuing, Emi told me that she walked towards the bathroom while attempting to make a bee-line towards the door but failed, nearly stumbling along. Her knees gave up in the middle of the way and she found herself sitting on the floor laughing to herself like a drunkard who came home for another round of booze after a wild party at somebody else’s house.

Emi laughed, reminiscing and probably trying to picture out herself during that night, sitting there on the floor and laughing at her own demise. I urged her to continue, not wanting to hear her laugh any longer. It was pleasant enough, the way how she laughs, but somehow it managed to send chills down my spine for reasons that I can’t understand. She sighed and told me that she finally decided to crawl back to her bed while still fighting the sleepiness out of her was just so she could test if she can defeat the purpose of the sleeping pill she took a while ago. She also told me that she lost the concept of time, unaware if ten minutes really is ten minutes. It could be longer, or it could be shorter. After which, she told me that she mustered and gathered her strength, if she had any that night, she went back to her laptop and started chatting up some people she barely know. Her hands were shaking, she said. She can’t even read well, and she’s not even sure if the people she chatted up were really the same and very people she had in mind that night.

Emi:: is itt ok if I take another pillll!

Jess:: What pill? Are you okay? XD

Emi:: sleeeeping pills to sleep, hehehehe

Jess:: You shouldn’t

Emi:: hey, is itt is ok if I take anoter dose of sleeping pill?

Frank:: what did ur doctor say?

Emi:: justt one haha she said just 1one

Frank:: 1one? Wait whutt?

Emii: I mean1

Frank:: then 1 it is

Emi told me how frustrated she felt, how badly she wanted someone to tell her that it’s okay to take another pill. “I don’t know what was running through my head that night,” she inserted, “it’s like I have all the right to take another pill since its right beside me but that night, I wanted to hear it from someone, to hear that it’s okay, I mean, taking another dose of the pill.” A weird silence floated right through between us and I urged her to continue. After she shut off her laptop, she told me, she decided to surrender. Black rained on her parade, her head thumped like a drum on a death march on Bataan, like the sound of atomic bombs falling from the sky and landing on the grounds of Hiroshima.

YON

Taken from Emily’s diary, Wednesday, March 27, 1985

Before my grandfather died, I didn’t know how to play the Solitaire.

Before my grandfather died, I didn’t run out of fare coins.

Before my grandfather died, I could eat whatever I want if I’m visiting the ancestral house. He would buy me the best barbeque in town if there was no decent food on the table; I mean meat, even if I didn’t ask him to.

 

But that was before he died, before I was him lying on a white coffin at the living room, body injected with formalin, eyes closed shut forever. That was before they placed a divider between his coffin and where my grandmother is sitting on her wheelchair for she can no longer walk by herself.

 

The thing is, their children, my aunts and uncles, decided not to tell my grandma that pops is dead but we all know that she figured it out by herself. Sometimes we would see her cry, a silent form of cry where no sound came out from her mouth, just tears doing the action. The tears would just fall down from her wrinkly eyes, rolling down her pale mestiza face. People would often come by to give their respects to my dead grandpa and they would sometimes check on grandma too and ask her if she knows where pops is. “He went out to the market to buy food.” My grandma would say in reply or sometimes, she’d tell them that he’s in the kitchen cooking food for lunch or for dinner and then, she’ll cry.

 

Several months after pops was buried, she would tell her children that pops visited her and asked her to go with him, wherever he is. Everything was white, she said. Pops was wearing a white shirt and then there was a blinding light which signifies the end of the dream. It broke my heart when I first heard the news that pops died, it broke my cell phone too because I threw it three times on the floor of the school library, not accepting the news that I just heard from my mom over the phone. He was the best grandpa ever, as most favorite grandchild would say.

Now, I no longer have anyone to put eye drops on after dinner.

 

Pops was something. He fought during the World War II, he fought the Japanese ten hours after the big event on the Pearl Harbor. When I heard the story about how he met my granny and how he fell in love with her, I wished that it would sound better if I heard it directly from him. I thought the story was pretty cruel and unfair at first but love is interesting in a crazy way even decades and decades ago.

 

It was the year 1945 and soldiers were everywhere. It was wartime in the Philippines and my grandmother was 16. My grandpa on the other hand was a soldier of the Philippine Army. One fateful day, as probably written from above my granny and her family was busy preparing for her big wedding to a man who lives in a nearby town. As festivities were back then, wedding days usually lasts for five days of even more, depending on the family caste status. Granny was walking alone on the dirt road when my grandpa first saw her and it was, cliché but oh well, love at first sight. He started to follow my grandma but she ran away in fear for he was a soldier and he was in his uniform, carrying a weapon. But boy oh boy, pops pursued her! He meddled in granny’s relationship with her soon-to-be husband using his being a soldier as an advantage and was able to break them off. Unfortunately for the other man, he went home, unmarried and fortunately for me, if it weren’t for my grandpa’s brave act of love, then I guess, somehow, I wouldn’t be here writing in the stupid diary.

 

In the end, they got married and survived the war even if they lived in poverty. They were able to produce a dozen of kids and sold one to a different family. Pops was especially close to his youngest daughter. Actually, we had a reunion yesterday that’s why I decided to write their story down. Yesterday, I and my aunts were hanging out on the living room together with my grandma, still attached to her wheelchair. Then, one of my aunts spoke. She said that they were once wondering and asked my grandma about it. They were wondering why, why even if it was a one-sided and forced love affair, they were able to produce lots of kids. Maybe my granny learned to love pops after all those years. Maybe, only maybe, it was simply supposed to be.

 GO

The day after I met Emi, after she told me her story, I took a cab upon going home ever though it was completely impractical and unnecessary since the distance is an understatement. I can actually walk my way home but I wanted the easy way and knowing myself, always driven my emotions, I did take the easy way. I walked fast towards the taxi lane and embarked the taxi on the first exit, thankful that I no longer have to wait since no one was in the waiting for taxis. After getting in, I gave the direction to the cab driver who responded with a nod and started the engine.

My gaze was fixed outside the window, observing the line of both old and new buildings along the way, thoughts lost at the very moment into something that I can’t catch. Today was the very same day for me just like yesterday, except that I met Emi but still, things at school’s driving me crazy. I needed a breather even though it was only four days since the beginning of the new term. The cab turned left and I snapped out of my own little world realizing that I’m near my destination when suddenly, the cab driver spoke.

“Do you know what a silver lining is, Miss?”

“Err, no. What is it?”

Piqued, I scooted over to the middle of the backseat as the driver pointing up the sky and lo and behold, there is was, beautiful. But then, I didn’t actually find anything special in it and thought that I had seen it before both in pictures and with my naked eyes. The driver, still pointing up the “silver lining” spoke again.

“That is a silver lining. I was gonna say ‘wow’ but then I stopped myself. I’m quite surprised to see one today. It’s not every day that I get to see it. I mean, wow!”

What’s so special about it?

“Oh, what about it?” I decided to choose my words.

“It’s the opening from the heaven. You know how it goes; every cloud has a silver lining.”

I arrived home and gave the driver a considerable amount of tip who responded with a smile. I can still recall how dark his skin was, hair long, black, and curly tied into a ponytail.

Talk about freaky.

ROKU

Dear ****,

 

            From the Marriage Plot, page 173 (Grammaticus)

 

            …God is beyond any human concept or category. That’s why Moses can’t look at Yahweh. That’s why, in Judaism. You can’t even spell out God’s name. The human mind can’t conceive what God is. God doesn’t have a sex or anything else…

 

            “So don’t tell me that fiction novels are all fiction.” I told him.

 

            …Some people need a picture. Any great religion has to be inclusive. And to be inclusive you have to accommodate different levels of sophistication…

 

            Then, we had a conversation. I started the lame conversation.

 

            “Do you want to know what I think?” I started.

            “What you think about what?”

            “Well, uhm, what I think about fiction novels.”

            “Oh, sure.” He sounded hesitant.

            “Well, I think that not all of the things written in fiction books are fiction.”

 

            His mouth hung open, I laughed.

 

            “First of, in my own opinion, not all of the events that happened in a certain fiction novel aren’t really what you call a make believe. I guess except those which are categorized as pure fantasy.”

 

            “Go on.”

 

            “Maybe some of the events happened to the author. Like maybe, when Murakami and his wife woke up in the middle of the night they both felt a certain pang of hunger greater than the hunger of tsunami trying to swallow every single thing on its way. So, he decided to write about it, changing only the characters and added some superficial events.”

            “And?”

            “And like, you know, love stories.”

            “How about sci-fis and fantasy stuff?”

            “I’m getting to that.”

 

            I started to feel nervous.

 

            “Second is, like those fantasy fiction novels where Neil Gaiman wrote about a guy named Fat Charlie who is Anansi the Spider’s son, being a god and all that jazz, is what Gaiman wanted to happen. Like maybe a childhood dream or something. Or maybe he dreamt about it when he was still a young lad and wished that he could be a demi-god and live a very cool, un-boring life. So this is the part that makes up on the make-believe portion.”

            “I really don’t know.”

            “I was just saying.”

            “Oh, okay then. Maybe you could tell that to someone who’s interested in books. Like someone who knows Mura-what’s his name and that Gaiman dude. I’m clearly the wrong person.”

 

            Defeat.

 

            “I’m perfectly aware of that.”

            “Then why did you still bother me about the fiction thing you just explained?”

 

            Justice.

 

            “So that somehow, something that is of substance, would seep through that empty brain of yours. Good day.”

            I walked away from him.

 

            After a few days, I met him again. I was sitting alone at my usual place in the coffee shop where I usually go to either alone or with the company of my friends. I was drinking hot Caramel Macchiato and I was fully absorbed reading Kenzaburo Oe’s The Changeling, which by the way, is something I don’t really get what it was all about, when he came up to me and said hey.

 

           I said “hey” back as he sat right across me with his backpack, a newspaper, and a cup of coffee. How rude. How very very very rude of him. We didn’t arrange to meet and now he’s claiming the seat right in front of me, the one where you were sitting on when we met. It’s not like I was waiting for someone to arrive. I came in peace, I came in to read a book, smoke my Marlboros, and drink my daily dose of coffee. He didn’t even ask me if he could sit at the vacant chair across me and if I tell him to get lost, I’d be, no doubt, the one who is rude.

 

 

                                    Love,

Emi

 

NANA

Dear Sister Alyssa,

 

            Faith is a rational weapon, more powerful than any implement of war ever made by man. A mass of dead people are walking in this Earth, eating with me, living with me, laughing with me, conversing with me. My thoughts about this matter are beyond words. I am an apostate.

 

            I believed. I yielded. I learned. I deviated. Am I to be considered dead as well? I was raised as a Catholic, papers and act. I came from a family of devout Catholic believers. I was educated in Catholic institutions. I went to Catholic events and took part in its religious practices. I was the Redeemer in my dreams. I talked to saints in my dreams. Then I became an apostate, a turn-coated rat.

 

            Now I find myself extremely liable for my own accounts on whatsoever that is veiling this huge and revolving breathing sphere. Noticeably, I just earned myself a label that will soon provide no significant memory as each day would pass and die. As an apostate, what will become of me? A quisling capable of ruining her own youth?

 

            Rotting in hell is a rational and sensible thought to give me the creeps for a moment but then, what comes next? If faith is rational, then so is fear. A biological being I may be, wandering in this world with the auras of things and emotions that my eyes cannot see, am I still subject to feel fear? Am I not exempted to be saved when the so called Rapture is transparently roving the face of this momentarily living planet?

 

            I am an apostate, self-proclaimed. I lie. I laugh. I trick. I fool my own self, utterly lacking the beliefs that was presented to me by my family, my alma matter, my mentors, and the last priest who heard my awful deviation during my last desireless and regurgitating confession on the holy grounds of a sacred and antiquated Catholic colony.

 

            I looked up, today, at the crying sky and saw a big man looking at me from above. He had a gun and he pointed the weapon at me. Bang. Bang.

 

 

            Sincerely,

Emily

 

Emily sent this to me after the very last time I saw her. Her eyes were hollow and red, skin pale and she no longer smiled. When she visited me in the monastery and tried to talk to me, I felt something painful in my heart when I was looking at her talk. I felt her pain and felt the need to help her, to help her recover from what she’s going through in her life. She handed me her very last letter and just walked away quietly without saying a word.

Only later did I hear from her mother that she was missing that afternoon and was under the influence of mixed psychological pills and drunk on a bottle of vodka. That night, I included Emily in my prayers and the night after that until it became a habit, out of my passion, not because I was getting used to it. I pray to God not for her soul, but for her pained heart.

                         HACHI

Emi told me what happened after three hours, after she decided to give in and went to visit dreamland. After three hours, she said, she found herself stirring from her sleep and her breathing matched with the ticking of the bronze vintage alarm clock beside her head pillow. Orange dim light streamed through the gap of the dark blue curtain against her bed. I can tell that Emi was quite well with details, especially if it was the details of the events that she wanted to always remember and it was detailed enough to the extent that made me think that she planned it all. She told me that when she checked the clock, it showed that it was 0430am.

“You know, they say that when you dream between midnight to three in the morning, whatever happens in the dream will be the opposite once it happens in reality,” Emi said, “they say that if you dream between just after three until you wake up when the sun’s up, what you have dreamt will happen as it is but in my case, I can no longer dream.”

KYU

Taken from Emily’s diary, last entry.

            What are dreams for? Why does our mind and soul wander when we cannot control it? Why do we recognize and feel at ease towards the places that we can only go to in our dreams? The people that we see, we don’t even know them. The things that are happening, what do we know of them when we dream? Yet only in dreaming do we fit in, we fit in the society without any questions and derogatory situations even in the Other World. In dreaming there is no religion, no questions of science. We can only see ourselves apart from the lump of flesh lying on a bed. Dreams are mirrors of what we want and what we are afraid of. No matter how hard we scream, no one can hear it but us and only then can we realize and finally feel that after all, we are alone. In dreaming only can we die and once our eyelids flicker back to life and when our lungs take in the first breath for the day, we feel as if nothing has happened. Some people are aware, some are not. Others are blind to see what’s happening on the Other Side.

 

            I’m a girl who’s afraid to sleep at night, afraid to sleep even if my body is screaming from being awake but then, no one has ever died from the lack of sleep or otherwise, not even those with the Sleeping Beauty Syndrome. What does a person with a Sleeping Beauty Syndrome sees in her sleep? I’m afraid that even for a second I’ll close my eyes and then it’ll become a minute on the Other Side, slowly wearing out the light inside my soul if there’s any. In dreams only my soul can feed itself. In dreams only I can be immortal and I won’t have to fear death and dreaming itself. What will only take place is the fierce battle between Eros and Thanatos.

 

            I entered the Other Side panting and dirty. The smell of burning things filled up my nostrils. Dust flew everywhere as screams from the underground rang up in my ears. They were loud screams. Screams from the core of the human soul all over the world, screams of the demons and the tortured souls but I was with an angel, an angel whose face I cannot see or speak of. All I know about him is that he was wearing a white shirt. After we climbed up the stairs from under the church, the angel was gone with his shinning sword, leaving me alone by myself in a nightmarish sea of the Unknown.

 

            I trudged along the dusty dry path and saw women wearing black veils, murmuring strange things against one another under their breath. Their eyes dark, diluted, demented. They looked at me as I trembled in fear with nothing to defend myself with. Fear filled the gaps inside my heart and I saw demons trapped in their eyes.

 

            I walked on and on and found another group of women on their knees on a spread of green grass, each clutching a rosary, chanting the mysteries taught by the Blessed and when I walked on, I saw Him, He who was nailed on the cross, His body illuminating a strange glow of ominous pearl-glowing light, not blinding enough that I was able to approach him. He was clean, without wounds and with a face ever gentle, a face I have never seen before but felt as if I have known it forever. His robe white, His demeanor kind and He looked down upon me and whispered with a smile.

 

            “Come closer, child. Do not ever be afraid again. ”

 JU

Thirty-one slashes. She cried harder until her mother found her, curling on the bed and noticed her artwork.

“Why are you doing this, Emily?”

“I don’t really know.”

She heard her mom sigh as she stood up and took a cotton swab with povidone-iodine. Her mom took her wrists and started cleaning her daughter’s self-inflicted wounds.

“If you’re thinking of doing this,” he mom said, “think again. You’re going to leave me a lot of problems while you’re out, escaped from it. Don’t leave without closing the door.”

Her mom stood up and turned the lights off, locking the door behind her. As soon as her mom was gone, Emily counted from one to thirty-one. She took the small knife from under her pillow, cradling it.

“I just thought that it would be nice to do this once in my life. I think this is nice, a nice thing indeed.” She whispered in the dark.

His Blind Side

Mang Ernesto at Plaza Libertad, Iloilo City, Philippines

Mang Ernesto at Plaza Libertad, Iloilo City, Philippines

Holding out a blue cup containing the hearts of those who have passed by and noticed his soul, he was situated under a post with his back leaning on its pole. Nestled between his tired legs is his little kid with big brown eyes, innocent by age, devouring a small cob of corn while wishing that it could sustain and fill his empty basket in the middle of his fragile and young body.

The old man, skin dark and wrinkled with age, portrayed a face that speaks a life lived with love and content amidst the mishaps that have shattered his being. “Ang bulag, gapangita tawo. Tawo man kita, gamiton ta ang ulo ta.” Mang Ernesto Inocencio, 59, said.

On 1977, his world blacked out, at the young age of 22. He was fishing on that fateful day in Carles, his hometown. Under the scorching heat of the sun, salt-aired ambience, and the pangs of misfortune, he met his Waterloo. Mang Ernesto was eager to bring home a good catch but instead, he brought home his body- minus his sense of sight. He released the dynamite into the open sea but tragic as it is, the dynamite backfired and left him a remembrance embedded in his face for all throughout his life. But mang Ernesto is bulletproof and God has other plans for him.

During his lightless manhood, he married Remedios who bore him 5 children. After she died, he married Linda and they were blessed with 4 children. After Linda died, unable to bear the loneliness and losses in his heart, he married again! Fearing that his heart would go stale, he found Ninette and together they promised eternity. She bore him 5 children to take care of but eventually, God took her away. “Tanan sila masanag kag ambot kun ngaa nagkalamatay sila.” Mang Ernesto humored the air with his way of words describing those who could see as “masanag”.

It was 1992 when he married Criselda. Together they raised 9 children; one of them is still finishing the cob of corn in his hands. “Ah, si Criselda, dulom to siya iya. Pareho kami.” Together they live in La Paz, contented with the simple life that they have as long as they can eat three meals a day, no longer minding what the food is or how little is available. “Love is blind.” He quoted, thankful about the past love affairs he has, with all of his 3 deceased wives accepting him as what he is. “Siling sang Diyos, go and multiply. Gina sunod ko man lang ang Bibliya.” Mang Erenesto’s youth may have stayed with him.

For a few moments, Mang Ernesto would pause as the passersby would look at him, battling inside their minds whether to give or not to give him a little of the rattling coins inside their purse. He is thinking, perhaps, about the life that he is living in, thinking about what would happen the moment he leaves this place to pick up his children from school so that they could go home together, bringing with him his bag full of things like a clock and a flash light.

How would he manage to do that, given that he is a handicap? Perhaps 37 years of a life deprived from light have taught him things that people who can see are blind enough to learn and realize? Maybe Mang Ernesto’s blind side had made him understand that the priceless and beautiful things in this world are not for the eyes to see but only for the heart to be felt

Ichi

I don’t know where I am right now. I don’t know what I’m doing here or what made me arrive in this place. It’s like I was teleported here while I was sleeping, I can’t remember. Maybe someone drugged me or hit me real hard in the head and transferred me to this place. This world, unnamed. Where exactly am I? Am I in the real world where normal people live or am I in the world that I have built up for my own? Or maybe I’m in the middle of both worlds, like a crossroad, stuck in a limbo. What is happening to me?

Moreover, I can’t think clearly with these thoughts that has no concrete form. They are running around like mad, sugar-high, with no destination to go to. They are even scattered around with no beginnings and no endings. Is something as mundane as this can actually happen to anyone? Maybe I’m an exception in this case, an exception to show that I have forsaken everything just as I was forsaken by everyone and everything that I used to have.

I’m living a life that is full of questions, questions that I don’t have any idea where they came from or how they were born. I’m sure that if these questions can be seen, they have loose ends. Maybe I’m not like everyone else in this place and more especially, maybe I’m not even what you can call a human being.  Although yes, I do function like anyone of you. I get hungry, I get thirsty, I get jealous, and when hurt, I, too, bleed the very same red blood that anyone of you bleeds out but something about me is just different and I want to know what really I am.

There’s one thing I know for sure though. One thing that makes me different from anyone of you. One thing that could only be obvious with the light and the dark clashed together: I have no shadow. I had my shadow cut away from me not so long ago and I’m also quite different from those who were naturally born without a shadow but I’m not also sure if there are others who were born without a shadow. I only know one person and he’s not the same as I am. In fact, he was the one who cut my shadow away from me.

As the days went on, I have finally adjusted to a life without a shadow. It’s not difficult for me to say the least but I don’t know why since when my shadow was cut away from me, I can no longer remember my past, even the feelings that I used to have. It’s like I was reborn and I’m completely a blank slate of whatever humans are with no past that could hold me back, no things that could chain me into going on. Nothing.