Friday, June 3, 2011

San Biag Ko: Fate

©2010 Johnny Domawa
All Rights Reserved

I am not a superstitious person. I believe that our lives are what we make of it. The decisions we make create the present and the future and although I admit to the presence of uncontrollable factors that can affect the journey we make, we as sentient beings are the center of our own universe.

Doubtlessly many have been told of their supposed fates. Tradition both from our own cultures and those of others attempt to inculcate in our minds the existence of a predetermined future. Even meaningless words, spoken at the spur of the moment, like ‘awan pagsabaliam kenni tatang mo’; ‘awan met lang pagturongana dayta biag mo’; ‘you will go places’ and the like are unintentional entendres that often unconsciously define our existences.

“Agpamasahe ka.” It was a statement. The two blind masseuse stopped their conversation and two pairs of eyeless sockets looked in my direction. Even now, after many such sessions with them, I continue to be amazed at the acuteness of their other senses. And I even tried to mask my approach by walking in the balls of my feet.

I smiled. While they may not be able to see it, they can sense the mood of people and as I anticipated both smiled back.

“Wen, bru” I noticed that my usual masseuse was absent from those waiting in the reception area. I wonder if this batch knew me. it has been three months since my last session with them. The return of my normal strength has prevented me from revisiting their place. I figured I no longer needed them as my strength has returned. And now, the lack of nothing to do in my pad, staring at my Facebook page had me paying them a visit.

“Aguray ka lang.” One of them, the man, stood up and disappeared into the booths that lined their small place of business. The woman merely smiled, unerringly in my direction. They were in their fifties, probably one of the elders of their group. My usual masseuse was about my age although he always calls me ‘manong’. Probably due to the depth of my voice. I chuckled.

Presently we heard the man returned.

“Anya nga masahe?”

“FB” Full body.

“Two Fifty” I gave my money to his outstretched hands. He deftly felt them and unerringly rearranged them so that the heads of the Philippine heroes were aligned to each other. How’d he do that, I wondered. Even with my eyes closed and some hours of practice, I could never tell a hundred peso bill from a fifty, much less arrange them so that the heads are aligned. It just goes on to show you that when one sense is denied, others compensate. Humans are simply amazing if you know how to appreciate it.

“First door.” I followed him to a well kept cubicle. The bed was just at the center and the smell of fresh bedding was heavenly. This establishment is the best as far as blind masseuse places go. Most are rather worn down establishments where the blankets are probably shared by customers. But not here, that’s why I continue to patronize them.

“Sige aglabos ka lang. Uray nakabrief lang” (Word to the wise. I’m fat so I am not exactly someone you should be imagining stripped. ) I smiled at his back and got ready.

“Siyak ni Lito a taga Pangasinan.” He offered a hand.


“Ah, John, dati kan nga agpampamasahe?”

I laughed. Most people nowadays abbreviate my name. I wonder why.

“Dati, I lay on my back. Ngem nabayagen nga haanak imimmay.”

His hands started kneading my back. After a few months, I cringed as my body reacted to the senstation. His hands were strong and he was using too much of his nails.

“Ibagam lang no diinak pay wenno haan.”

“Ayos lang.” I answered between the pain. No man in his right mind would admit that it was painful. Pain is only in the mind, after all. Gradually as his ministrations progressed, I felt more at ease, though some areas elicited the clenching of my facial muscles. It’s the one thing that goes against blind masseuses, since they cannot see the expression of their customers, most cannot adjust.

After a while, my body started to adjust and I felt the welcome languor of drowsiness. Massages are like exercises, some one had told me once, without the effort. My thoughts drifted away. The masseuse had a different technique than my suki, but he was good and the new technique was a welcome change of pace.

With JPop blaring in my headphones, I gradually lost track of time. Finally I was brought back to consciousness when he asked me turn over. I looked at him in half open eyes. He was definitely in his fifties, or late forties. After doing me over again, he slid a chair to the headrest and started kneading my head then out of the blue he muttered something.

“Anya diyay manong?” I asked removing my headphones.

“Adayo to mapanam.” He was smiling.

“Apay nga makunam data.” I laughed.

“Isu ti makuak ditoy ulom.” He looked sincere. I killed my laughter to a smile.

People have been telling me that I would go places. If I take stock of my life at this point in time, I did go certain places and I do want to achieve more. But is it because it is my fate? Or is it due to my own strengths.

I will probably not know the answer to that.



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