Friday, September 30, 2011

Autumn Dreams – A Reflection

Copyright 2011 Jani Domawa
All Rights Reserved
Any resemblance to a person, living or dead is purely unintentional.

“Are you ok?” I want to ask this of you. In my mind, I have this vision of you sitting by the lakeshore looking at the distance and the breeze gently tugging your hair across your face. I see you turning to me, a tender smile on your lips as you brush away an errant strand of hair that strayed close to your eyes.

And then you would return your gaze into the placid lake surface as you clutch your pink shawl closer to your body and the cool breeze continues to play with your tresses.

What are you thinking of… I wonder. To get the gift of reading a woman’s mind for just this moment, I’ll wager almost anything… What am I to you? Do I have a place in that heart of yours?

I follow your gaze into the blue lake.

What do you see in there? Do images swim in your mind? What are they…

I’ll probably never know. That is our fate, probably in this life, or my fate, rather – to wander thru the passages of time reflecting on the things I could have done or should have done. I’ll only have excuses that will ultimately become regrets. Fear – it has frozen me and has imprisoned me in this gray limbo that I myself had created.

I want to be part of your life. To be the shoulder that you lean on as you go through this journey. Should you fall, I want to be the arms that catch you. Should you suffer, I want to be that hand you clasp tightly in yours. I want to share in your laughter and to see you smile…

…wishes…dreams…illusions… aspirations…maybe delusions that I made…

…but even if it is only a vision that I can see when I close my eyes, I won’t exchange it for anything.

We are probably not the ideal couple if ever it came to that. But allow me to imagine it…even if it is only a series of still pictures in my mind.

I am an introvert… you’re not… I revel in the solitude offered by silent spaces and private endeavours where I can be alone with my mind whereas you love the company of people and interacting with them. Silence will probably bore you in a lot of ways. Or are you the kind of woman who would love to cuddle in the alcove with a cup of coffee in one hand and a book on the other? Would age mellow your free spirit down to love solitude with me?

I still think you are a girl still… nearly a woman but not yet. You are a bit moody, probably or I’m wrong who can throw tantrums when you do not get your way (be silent, that is and freeze up) but I don’t know you that well yet so I might be wrong. You probably still cling to the idea that people still haven’t left high school – that friends and barkada can still go on jamming sessions and people can speak lightly of love affairs and other stuff.

I know that there is a fear in your mind as you see your former classmates settle into families and you question yourself whether or not something is missing in your life. Some still remain like you, single and caught in the middle of youth and adulthood. You take solace in the fact that you are still not the one left alone grappling with this questions but also in the back of your mind, you have this question…

You speak with confidence that you’ll be ok… but I know better. After all, I’m like you in some ways. The same doubts that bug me – about old age and being alone… about the prospects of walking alone… about what kinds of decisions to make…

You probably don’t think of me the way I think of you.

Am I a friend? A brother perhaps…

A brother probably…

You probably have in your mind that vision of having someone that will send electric jolts when you touch him. Of a guy that will make your heart skip a beat every time you see him… someone who will make you smile when he enters your mind even when he is not there…

I’m probably not that guy but I will root for you…

I wish and pray that you live a great life – a happy life with the one you love.

I can impose myself on your life – be that mad person who will go through hell and high waters to earn your love – but I won’t.  You love someone else – so I’ll gracefully take myself into the sidelines and cheer you on the sidelines.

But allow me to imagine – to see your face in the characters I write in the fiction pieces through the years…

…to see you in that lakeshore as the breeze snatches your hair…

Ganbatte ne!

Live a great life and keep smiling!!!!!

Korekara no futari no jinsei no seikou to koufuku wo inoru bakari desu!!

I’m gonna stop writing you this indirect letters now. Maybe this is where our roads diverge in this life. I still linger here in this crossroad, however, and I’ll return to here every time it strikes my fancy.

I don’t know where the roads we have will take us… but I do pray for your happiness from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for touching my life even if it is only for a brief instant… thank you, thank you so much …. Excerpt from the novel Letters of Mashouud

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pag-aasawa... Ang Tanong?

It’s time to address the elephant in the room. And I am not talking about impotence or PE (figure that out ok.. since my readers include teenagers so I have to tone down the terms)

I’m talking about marriage.

As people of Asian descent, we are extolled to get married. If we don’t, we are looked upon with a mixture of pity and regret as we go by the street. So we push each other to that path. Women, in particular, or should I say girls... have it on their mindset that they have to get married someday. If they get to their late twenties and they are not married yet, they start to panic…

If they reach their thirties, that becomes a crisis…

And that becomes a trap because most of them will latch on to the first available man that comes knocking. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…

Granted that not marrying would give rise to a higher probability of having ovarian cysts/cancer in time. And that the unreleased estrogen and hormones in a female will wreak havoc on their bodies as the years pile up. They would become tart old spinsters who drip venom from their mouths and minds (it's both a phsyiological and psychological reaction.) And that having no children to dote on and raise up will make one grapple with the spectre of solitary existence far down in the road as one ages. We will become that spinster aunt or uncle that grows embittered with the passage of time which will take its toll on our psyche… would point out the benefits of marriage.

If we are to avoid these, then using this logic, we need to get married.

Children, though are the main reason we ultimately get hitched… without them, life is simply a hollow, often directionless existence. And the prospect of going home to an empty condo or house for the better part of your life watching the seasons go by is not something for the faint of heart.

So going back to marriage..

Is it an answer to life’s loneliness?

Most marriages have problems hidden away from prying eyes. Even if they would deny it, many men and women have at one time or another wondered if they can go back in time and made another decision at that crucial point. More often than not, the concept of romance is a single one's delusion… it exists probably in the courtship stage and that month after the marriage but afterwards it’s really not that romantic as reality and routine settles in.

Work and finances will weigh heavily on the minds of married couples once the honeymoon period is over. I’m not saying that they would lose all the sparks of love… some will still keep it burning despite the odds… but reality and fairy tale endings are two vastly different things…

I will take slack about my observations on the romantic side dying off. After all, you would say, what would I know, right? I’m still a bachelor who’s never had a real relationship with someone (NGSB ba, kamo?) so I shouldn’t be able to say anything about it.

But I am an observant kind of guy and I’ve seen enough of life I think to make this generalizations.

So if our culture and our own minds extol us to get married, how then do we go about it?

Do we search for that man or woman (or boy/girl) that would make us fall heads over heels in love? Or do we use our minds and choose that one who has a better chance of making us contented in life? Would we choose a fiery lover that will make our bodies tingle with every touch or that friend who would be a rock that will protect us from life’s many tribulations?

Will we trade arguments and make-up sessions with a volatile soulmate instead of enduring a normal domestic life with a man who is safe but who doesn’t give us that edge that will keep us on our toes? Which is better: the logical choice or the ‘Choice’? the heart or the mind?

I have no answer. The poet in me will push you towards love – with all its sacrifices and its peaks and valleys that will give you mind boggling orgasms.  The pragmatist in me will steer you towards the greater picture – about stability in this life and a solid foundation.

It will ultimately be your choice, however. It is your life to live when you get right down to it.

I fell in love four times in my life – and I mean that in that hormonal wild ride of a rollercoaster. And right now, I think I am still in love. Ironically, I would choose that love over a mental relationship anytime. But I also know right now that I am on a one way street and it is sobering to realize that you can never really have everything you desire. It is painful to say the least seeing the one you love, love someone else… but it is also liberating in a way.

IS love learned, though? That is the question. If we give in to our minds and go into a marriage with someone who has all the qualities that makes a good husband/wife who unfortunately does not give us that jolt of electricity when we touch hands, can we learn to love him/her on a level that is the same as that love we seek?

Is common sense the better judge than hormonal imbalance (for that is what mad love is when it is broken down to its most basic level)?

As I’ve said, it is our choice to make.

It will always be a personal choice.

It is rather poignant to see posts on Facebook on the walls of those who are single about their pursuit of love and sometimes we do laugh and pity them for their public rants and comments about the ones they love while secretly cheering them on to find that one thing that eludes us completely.

We all want to see at least one couple have that fairy tale ending, do we not?

It is the sign of maturity when you accept that and let your dreams go for someone else to have.

So always remember this, when dealing with this stuff called marriage….

…. It is and will always be your own personal choice to make… not someone’s or the people around you or the world’s…

It is yours…

(PS. If you reach your forties and you're not married yet, can I ask you to marry me? I'll promise that I'll make the twilight of our years quite fulfilling. We'd ride roller coasters and go on long walks on the beach and the mountains and enjoy afternoon tea and sunsets together - maybe not as lovers but as good friends... It would be nice to read each other stories by the firelight and to provide each other as escorts in those rare occasions that ask for it. We'll share stories and laughter then...

I'm gonna promise you this, when you reach your forties and you're not married, I'm gonna knock on your door, no matter where you are in this world and ask you to marry me. You can laugh then and give me a big smile...  Excerpt from the Novel Letters of Mashouud )

Si Bodoh at si Kalbo at ang Tren...

Decisions are made during certain moments of life for the simple reason that they have to be made. Maybe if analyzed in full, some of these decisions would be foolish because they are often made at the spur of the moment without any sense of direction at all…


But they have to be made…

And what one can do is to deal with its repercussions when time comes…

It is in the uncertainty that people lose themselves… and stability in life is something that everyone wants. To ignore it and to continue riding the roller coaster that is life would be madness, indeed.

Dusk…in a desolate train station somewhere… we find Bodoh and Kalbo waiting for their ride. They have just finished visiting the wise old man Tasyo and after a whole day sleeping off his drunken stupor, Bodoh is now sober.

The train station is empty save for themselves and the cold bite of the incoming nights chill was slowly encroaching on the small platform. Outside, the cicadas are slowly starting their nightly concert and every now and then, the hoot of an owl broke the din.

“Are you ok?” Kalbo looked at Bodoh’s forlorn form sitting on the bench. He knew what was in the other man’s mind and he knew that the question was pointless but he had to initiate the conversation. He had no intention of spending the next hour waiting for their ride with only his mind for company… and he knew that Bodoh needed to talk perhaps more so than him.

Bodoh’s eyes were beyond the walls of the station. In his mind a thousand things raced until all that’s left is a jumbled mass of thought that grew more convoluted by the moment. He barely heard his friend over the chaos in his mind.

‘Huh?...’ he muttered, needing the sound of his voice to snap him out of his reverie – a hard thing to do.

Kalbo sighed.

‘I asked if you are ok?’

Bodoh turned to him, slowly escaping the grasp of the maelstrom in his mind. He stared at Kalbo for a long drawn out moment.

‘Yes…yeah, I am’ he said finally. Perhaps he was or maybe he was lying. Bodoh did not really know.

Kalbo studied his friend. He knew, of course that his friend was not ok. But he did not press it…

‘So what are your plans?’ he asked momentarily.

Once more, Bodoh took some time to hear and digest his friends question.

What to do now, indeed…

He once thought that his dream would be fulfilled – to find a suburban house somewhere and build for himself a family. Images of the minivan that occupied the garage and the various children’s toys that lay scattered in the lawn…the smell of a casserole that’s slowly being cooked in the kitchen… the vision of her – he paused at the image of her in his mind and for a moment, he wondered if there was still a chance… but he soon realized that it was merely a figment of his imagination. It can never happen. She was destined for someone else. He never had a chance to begin with. She will get married but it will not be to him – that much he knew. He banished the images from his mind.

‘I…I don’t know…’ It was the truth. He really did not know.

Kalbo didn’t answer. He knew better than to answer. Instead he took a step towards Bodoh and tapped the man lightly on the back twice. For in truth, he also felt the same way…

For a few draw out moments, they both were silent.

‘I’m going back to my art.’ Kalbo finally broke the silence.

Bodoh nodded but he did not speak.

‘Back to painting things probably…’ Kalbo looked into the distance. ‘I’ll try to push myself as far as I could go and see where it will take me…’’

Bodoh simply nodded.

Another pall of silence crept between them.

‘You should go back to university and…’ Kalbo ventured, trailing his last words.

Bodoh looked at him blankly. He heard his friend. Yeah, university would be great… it is still possible. He still had a good twenty years or maybe even more productive years ahead of him. And right now, many things are still possible… But part of him still could not concur to that idea – he still desperately desired to walk that other road whose door has finally hammered shut in his face.

Is there still a chance? He wondered. Maybe… He wanted to scream but he knew that it would be pointless.

He nodded again. But in the depth of his mind, he dreaded what that meant… a long solitary journey up ahead. Years and years of having to rely on the social kindness of others to feel loved and wanted. He would be a scavenger and a beggar in this regard.

…or he can be a miser and wrap himself in the cloak of indifference… or be a wise old man, like Tandang Tasyo…

He honestly did not know anything.

He stood up and sat down again. He was confused.

‘…you should definitely go to university.’ Kalbo said with finality.

Bodoh glanced at his friend with a sharp look. Without warning his arm snapped out and a straight jab took the unsuspecting Kalbo on the chin. Kalbo snapped back from his seat and fell unceremoniously on the floor of the train station.

Bodoh felt cold sweat form over his whole body. For a moment, Kalbo remained unmoving on the floor. And then slowly, the crumpled form began to rise up. Bodoh felt the familiar tingle of anger well up in him again.

Without a word, he rushed his friend and a couple of punches were thrown at Kalbo, a few wild and much more connecting with his torso.

Bodoh heard the sickening thud of his punches connecting with Kalbo’s body but he could not stop himself, he continued to throw punches blindly, his vision clouded by both frustration and rage.

For how long it went, he could not remember. Time was irrelevant for him, the only thing he was aware of was his need to vent all that he has bottled inside..

Until finally exhaustion got the better of him.

Through half-clouded eyes he saw Kalbo’s blurred form hunched in front of him. Surprisingly the other man was still standing but as his vision cleared, Bodoh realized that the other man was bloodied . Kalbo was half leaning on a post and blood was slowly flowing out of the corner of his mouth.

But it was Kalbo’s eyes that got him. He froze as their  eyes met. Kalbo was not angry – instead, his eyes were painted over by sadness. Bodoh dropped his gaze and he turned away. He found the bench and he sat down, clenched his fists together and screamed.

Up ahead, the sound of the oncoming train slowly filled the desolate train station. Momentarily, the bright light of the main car filled the darkened platform. Bodoh watched the lights mesmerized by the sudden glare. His mind was blank.

‘Aren’t you coming?’ a soft voice intruded into his numbed mind. With a start he looked towards the direction of the voice. Kalbo was halfway through the door to one of the cabs holding tight to the handles.


‘Aren’t you coming?’ Kalbo repeated his question again.

Bodoh started up. Then he sat down again. If he went, it meant that it was ended. He looked back into the exit. The stairs going up were dimly lit by a single working fluorescent bulb that washed the decrepit stairs pale gray. Beyond that vision, he saw the road that he wanted to take but like that stairwell, it was now faded.

He wanted to run and grab it… but he knew in the depths of his mind that it was not possible.

He stood up forlornly.

‘Yes…’ he whispered ‘….yes, I’m coming…’

He turned around and with leaden steps he went inside the train. He did not look up at Kalbo as he passed him. He went straight to one of the seats and sat down and once more his visions swam into the distance.

Kalbo kept the door open even after Bodoh has entered. He stared long in hard on the stairs and saw that same gray road that is slowly fading away. He too wanted to run and follow that road, and he would sacrifice everything if it meant going down that road… but like Bodoh, he knew that it was an impossible dream.

The train’s bell rang once, then twice…

Reluctantly, he stepped in and the train began to move.

He watched the train station fade from his view but he stared at it long after it has disappeared – a silent unspoken prayer in his mouth and a silent tears streaming down his face.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Si Bodoh at ang Buhay part 2

Copyright 2011 Johnny Domawa
All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: Any resemblance to a person, living or dead is pure unintentional and unintended..

Tila nakalimutan na yata ni Bodoh ang kanyang prinsipyo sa pag-inom. Tila wala sa isip ay tinungga niya ang kanyang serbesa at wala namang patid si Kalbo na pinupuno ang baso kung kanyang nakita na ubos na ito. Kung gusto mang sawayin ni Tasyo si Kalbo ay minabuti lamang nito na hindi umimik. Unti-unti habang lumalalim ang kapit ng dilim ay nalasing na si Bodoh.

Unti-unting lumabas ang mga butil ng luha sa kanyang mata. Gawa siguro ng mga nakakimkim na mga agam-agam na pilit niyang hinahanapan ng kasagutan. Ano nga ba ang buhay? Para saan at tayo ay humihinga sa mundong ibabaw? Bakit tayo binigyan ng diyos ng mga taon na patuloy na dumarating at di naman natin kayang pabagalan o kaya palitan?

B: (sabay tungga) Ayoko na…

Natahimik ang lahat. Natigilan si Kalbo na akmang lalagyan ulit ang baso ni Bodoh. Tiningnan niya ng maige ang kanyang kaibigan at nagdesisyon na tama na ang kanyang panlalasing dito. Medyo nahiya sa kanyang sarili at binaba ang round pose at tinungga ang sariling baso na hindi niya ginalaw simula pa kanina.

Dahan dahang binaba ni Tasyo ang kanyang baso at tiningnan si Bodoh. Umuusad na ang mga luha sa pisngi ng nakakaawang binate at batak na batak sa mukha nito ang napakalalim na kalungkutan. Tumayo si Tasyo at nagpalabas ng isang malakas na buntong hininga. Kinuha ang magasin sa isang tabi at walang imik na nirolyo ito. Lumapit siya sa humahagulgol na lalaki, pansandaliang pinakinggan ang mga hinagpis nito at walang imik na tinaas ang kamay na nakahawak sa magasin

…at sabay biglang pinalo ang ulo ng umiiyak na binata gamit ang magasin…

T: GAGO!!!!!

Nabigla si Bodoh, bigla siyang umatras sa tama ng magasin at nahulog siya patalikod sa sahig. Biglang nawala ang kanyang pagkalasing at tama sa hindi inaasahang aksion ng matanda. Napatingin siya kay Tandang Tasyo ng mga matang may bahid ng takot at pagkamangha.

T: Ano ka ba? Bata? Hindi!! Isa kang matanda! … Sino bang maysabi sa iyo na maganda ang lahat ng landas ng buhay na iyong tatahakin? Sino ba ang maysabi sa iyo na lahat ng pinagplanuhan mo at lahat ng iyong paghihirapan ay pupunta sa iyo?

T: Hindi lahat ng iyong isasaing ay iyong kakainin… hindi lahat ng iyong pagpapaguran ay mapapasayo…

T: May mga magnanakaw at may mga maiitim ang budhi na susuntok sa iyo ng walang katuturang rason sa buhay na ito…

T: May maglalapastangan sa iyo. Ang salita mo sa iba na pilit mong ginagawa ay hindi pagkakahalagahan at kusang ibabasura ang mga magaganda mong intensiyon…

Inabot ni Tasyo ang kamay kay Bodoh na nakahandusay pa rin sa sahig at tinitingnan ang matanda ng di maikubling takot at pagkamangha.

T: Ganito ang buhay bata… Akala mo ba ay makukuha mo lahat ang gusto dahil sa ikaw ay mabuting tao… Hindi!

T: Ang buhay ay hindi mo kailanman puedeng makokontrol… at hindi lahat ng tao ay kusang magiging masaya ang buhay… lahat ay mamimilipit sa pait ng pagkabigo sa mga panaginip na hindi magkakatotoo. At hindi lahat ng mga tao na dapat na bigyan ng magandang buhay ay makakamit ito. Kung minsan ang mga hindi karapatdapat ang nakakakamit ng isang buhay na payapa at maganda…

T: Ganito ang buhay, bata…

T: Ihakbang mo lang ang iyong mga paa. Kaliwa pagkatapos kanan… saan ka man papunta, hakbang lamang ng hakbang… lilipas man ang panahon at di mo makamtan ang iyong ninanais o kaya ay hindi mo marating ang gusto mong marating… ay huwag mong ipagkait at ipatalo ang iyong mga hangarin sa buhay…

T: Tao ka Bodoh… ang hinaharap kahit man na ito’y nakaukit na sa bato ay nasa landas na iyong tinatahak ngayon… Harapin mo na isang lalaki…

T: Suntukin mo ang buwan, abutin mo ang mga bagay na sinasabi nilang hindi mo kaya… kahit na hindi mo man ito makamit, ngumisi ka sa kahulihulihan ng iyong buhay at sabihin sa mundo na, Gago!

T: At pag walang patutunguhan ang iyong buhay, gawa ka ng landas… bigyan mo ng katuturan ito pag walang magbibigay sa iyo. Isandal mo ang iyong katawan sa Diyos at lumakad ka…

T:…ang magpapatalo sa buhay ay talagang ‘talo’ na… huwag kang gago!

Namutawi sa loob ng kubo ang katahimikan. Dumadaloy ulit ang mga luha sa pisngi ni Bopoh pero ang mga luhang ito ay iba na sa hinagpis na tinulo ng mga ito kanina. Bumalik si Tasyo sa upuan at tinagay ulit ang kanyang serbesa.

Nakangisi si Kalbo na kanyang tinatago sa kanyang pag-inom.

Nakita ito ni Tasyo at binigyan siya ng matalim na tingin.

K: Hehe…

Umupo si Bodoh at inabot ang baso. Nilagok ang alak. Ng maubos ay kusa na niyang nilagyan ito at nilagok ulit. Tiningnan lang ng dalawang kainuman ang binata at sa labas ay tuluyang umitim ang kalangitan sa dilim.

Bog! Bumagsak ang ulo ni Bodoh sa mesa. Tulog…

K: Hehe…

Walang imik si Tasyo pero sa gilid ng kanyang paningin ay tinitingnan niya ngayon si Kalbo.  

T: E ikaw?

K: (napatingin kay Tasyo) Ako?

T: Oo ikaw

K: (ngumisi) Ba’t ako?, hahaha

T: (akmang kukunin ulit ang magasin pero napag-isipang wala ung silbi sa sitwasyon) Oo ikaw, ano naman ang direksiyon ng buhay mo?

K: (Napaisip at ngumisi ulit) …direksiyon ng buhay ko?...hmmm… wala ata e, hehe

T: (napailing at gustong sapakin ang Kalbo) E anong katuturan ng buhay mo?

K: Wheww, lalim naman ng tanong mo Lolo… (sumipsip sa serbesa) … ganito na lang siguro lolo… saan man ako iaabot ng alon sa buhay ay doon na ako… (nakita ang pagdilim ng mata ni Tasyo)… ala naman po akong matinding hangarin po e…

T: (tumaas ang kilay) Wala?

K: (tiningnan ng maige si Tasyo) Hehe, sabihin na nating meron Lolo, kung ito ay hindi ko talaga maabot, ipagpipilitan ko ba ang aking sarili?... o mas mamabutihin kung abutin na lang ng iba na mas karapat dapat pa sa akin?

T: (tumawa) Hahahaha! Ha! At sino namang may sabi sa iyo na hindi ka karapatdapat?

K: (ngumiti at parang nag-isip) Hmmm, may puntos ka doon lolo. Puede nga na mali ang aking akala sa aking sarili. Ngunit hindi natin maipagkakait na merong mga bagay sa mundong ito ang mas mabuting ibigay na lang sa iba kaysa ating hahawakan, di ba lolo?

K: …sabihin na nating, pabayaan ko na lang na iba ang liligaya… Sabihin na natin na ako ang duwag… at mabubuhay akong naghahari ang kalungkutan sa araw araw kong paghinga… sabihin na natin na mamamatay ako isang araw sa hinaharap na umiiyak sa labis na paghinagpis dahil hindi ko man lang magawang subukan na abutin ito man lamang…

K: …ngunit ang pagkakaiba siguro naming ni Bodoh ay ganito… akin ng tinanggap ito. Niyakap ko na ang kalungkutan lolo at aking nilalakad ang landas ng buhay na tanggap kong malungkot ito.

K: …pagsisisihan koi to alam ko at sa hinaharap pag di ko kakayahin, malamang magiging lasenggo ako o di kaya ay isang taong nakakulong sa sariling mundo, hehehe. Tsk! Huwag naman sana, hehe

Walang imik na kinuha ang magasin at nilapitan si Kalbo. Ngumiti si Kalbo at tumayo.

Pero di bumagsak ang pamalo ni Lolo Tasyo.

They stood thus, the old man with his arm raised high with the rolled magazine and Kalbo with his head hung low waiting for the inevitable thump of the makeshift pole.

But moments passed and Tasyo remained frozen. Then silently, the magazine fell with a dull sound on the floor and the old man turned away…

Kalbo watched the old man’s forlorn form leave the shack. He saw the tear in the old man’s eyes before he turned away. He smiled painfully. He understood the old man’s tears and his pain…

Perhaps someday, he will be Lolo Tasyo…

It was probably a tragedy that was worth repeating.

He sighed and turned to the dark sky, hiding his own tears in the darkness.

Barely audible, he muttered a word under his breath and lightly punched himself…


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Si Bodoh at ang Buhay

Copyright 2011 Johnny Domawa
All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: Any resemblance to a person, living or dead is unintentional

Sa isang kubo sa isang baryo malapit sa Mariveles, Bataan. Dapit hapon at tanaw na tanaw sa kanluran ang unti-unting paglubog ng araw. Makikita natin ang ating kaibigan na si Bodoh kasama si Pilosopong Tasyo at isang matabang lalaking kalbo na nag-iinuman ng mumurahing kwadro kantos habang namumulutan ng mani…

Bodoh (B): (tingin ng taimtim sa namumulang kalangitan na parang balisa)

Tasyo (T): (tinatagay ang kwadro kantos at walang pakialam sa kalangitan)

Kalbo (K): (animoy tulog na nakaupo – nakapikit ang mata at malayo ang isip)

B: (sighs and looks at the east with a hint of sadness in his eyes) Ano ba ang buhay?

Walang kumibo. Napatigil ng konti si Pilopopong Tasyo sa akmang pagtungga ng serbesa ngunit sa isang maikling sandali lamang. Medyo tumaas ang kilay ni Kalbo sa kanang mata ngunit ito rin ay panandalian na para bagang naihipan lang ng hangin.

Balisa pa rin si Bodoh at nilunok ang tinik sa lalamunan. Inalis niya ang kanyang titig sa kawalan at nabaling ang kanyang pagmumuni-muni sa serbesang nangalahati lamang ang laman simula pa noong nilagyan niya yun. Sabay pakawala ng nakabigting hininga, kanya itong tinaas sa kanyang bibig at sa isang iglap, ito’y kanyang nilamon…

(Wheww… damn Pilipino – almost lost myself twisting my mind to recall the words, hehe – author)

He gulped the bitter concoction, reveling in the harsh taste of gin and water as it raced into his gut. He welcomed the feeling although it made him retch. Whoever said that alcohol tastes good is a liar. Mapait ang inumin na pag ininom ay para bagang gasolina na magaspang sa lalamunan. Gusto man niyang isuka ito ay hindi niya magawa sa simpleng rason na siya ay isang lalaki at ang isang lalaki kailnman ay hindi puedeng sumuka ng kanyang ininom sa harap ng ibang lalaki hanggat hindi siya lasing o magpapanggap na lasing.

Napangiwi ang kanyang mukha sa tama ng kanyang hinigop pero agad niyang kinubli ito sa isang simangot at kanyang binagsak ang walang laman na baso sa mesa ng medyo malakas kaysa sa inaasahan, ang tunog na parang kulog sa maliit na kubo.

Through half amused eyes, Pilosopong Tasyo watched his actions. Naiintindihan ni Tasyo ang gustong sabihin ng binata pero hindi niyo to agad pinatulan. Sa ganitong sandali, alam ni Tasyo na mas mabuting hanapin muna ni Bodoh ang sagot sa kanyang isip kaysa siya sumabad.

Ang kalbong mama naman, kung napansin man niya ang tantrum ni Bodoh ay walang pinahiwatig na nakita ito at patuloy pa ring nakasandal sa pader, pikit ang mata at nananahimik.

Bodoh realized with a start that he probably had leaked something that was more than what was asked for. Sa isang banda, isa pa lang ang kanyang tinagay at wala pa sa kanila ang lasing. The rule when confiding among men is that one or all must be drunk… or sufficiently watered so that when they become sober and some stories come up, they can always attribute it to drunkenness.

Lasing kasi ako noon pare kaya ko nasabi un… San Miguel ang nagsalita doon pare… May nasabi ba akong ganun?

Excuses… really – drinking alcohol is always an excuse.

That’s the real reason men drink – to have a reliable excuse they can use when somebody asks them about it later. They can always blame the alcohol talking when they are confronted with what they’ve said.

B: (tumawa ng puwersahan at inabot ang kwadro kantos at nilagyan ang kanyang baso – sabay tinagay at pinakiramdaman kung medyo siya tinamaan para may rason kung ano man ang masabi) Lolo Tasyo, ano ba ang ibig sabihin ng buhay?

Tiningnan ni Bodoh si Pilosopong Tasyo na para bagang nagmamakaawa. Animoy hindi siya narinig ni Tasyo at para pang nilalaro ng matanda ang kanyang serbesa na malapit ng maubos. Wala pa ring imik si Kalbo at nakasandal sa kanyang upuan at patuloy na nakapikit ang dalawang mata, hindi man lang nagalaw ang kanyang baso na puno ng alak.

Bodoh sighed, wondering about the sense of him being there. Hindi naman sa ayaw niya ng kanyang buhay. Kung tutuusin, pag ikukumpara sa buhay ng mas nakakarami ay wala siyang masasabi. Hindi siya siguro magugutom sa madaling bukas at hindi rin siya mababaon sa utang. Pag patuloy ang pag-usad ng kanyang buhay sa direksiong kanyang tinatahak ay maganda ang kanyang hinaharap. Hindi siya yayaman… ok lang siguro.

Pero sa pakiwari niya ay meron pa ring kulang. Sa kanyang pagmumuni-muni ay nakita niya ang walang katulad na kalungkutan na naghihintay sa kanya sa landas na kanyang nilalakad. And even when he is resigned to his fate, there is still something inside him that is screaming for him to do something about it.

Nilagyan niya ulit ang kanyang baso, tinaas sa kanyang labi ngunit di niya nilagok. Binaba niya… hindi siya lasenggero at ayaw niya ng lasing – he slammed the glass unceremoniously on the table, disgusted at himself…

Outside, the sunset had colored the west sky bloody red (Sa labas, nabalot ang kanlurang langit ng kulay na parang dugo). He turned away, not really willing to think about anything anymore.

In the corner of his eyes, Pilosopong Tasyo studied him with a critical eye.

Sa haba ng buhay ni Tasyo, alam niya kung ano ang bumabagabag sa tumatandang binata. Naiintindihan niya ang mga agam-agam at mga tanong na namumuo sa isip ng bata. Lahat ng lalaki ay dumadaan sa ganun at alam din ni Tasyo na ang puedeng makasagot sa kanyang mga katanungan ay walang iba kundi ang kanya ring sarili.

On their side, Kalbo silently opened his eyes. He looked at both while adjusting his vision from the glare of the sudden light. His eyes settled on the glass holding his drink. Tentatively, he raised it up sniffed it gingerly, crinkled his nose at the tart smell and promptly glanced furtively at his companions. Seeing that no one was looking, he flipped majority of the contents behind his back and then gulped only a small amount of what remained. (Wais nga kunada, hehe)

He looked at the four by four and saw that it is nearly empty. He took it and seeing Tasyo and Bodoh’s glasses half empty, he poured the rest into the glasses and the small amount left he placed on his own, after which he liberally topped with water. Satisfied, he reached for the peanuts on the center of the table and picked a few.

Absent-mindedly, Bodoh picked up his glass and gulped it down, nearly gagging at the purity of the alcohol that he drank. The hot liquid raced down to his gut and gave his mind a jolt of numbness. He wanted to puke but his pride as a man prevented that. He felt the alcohol kick in his system and for a moment, he wondered if he should give in to his puking response and disgorge his body of the offending liquid.

Ngunit siya ay isang lalaki at ang pride ng isang lalaki ay kailanman hindi maatim na magluwal ng kanyang nainom. Puwera na lang kung wala na siya sa sarili at talaga ng lasing. Inisip niya kung magpapanggap siyang lasing at kusang magduwal pero winala niya ang ganitong pag-iisip at kanyang tinikom ang kanyang bibig.

Unti-unti naramdaman niya ang pagtama ng alak sa kanyang ulo. Para bagang lobo na gumagaan ang kanyang isip at lumulutang sa kawalan.

At ng lumutang na siya sa tabi ng mga ulap ay nawala na rin ang kanyang mga agam-agam sa sarili. Tiningnan niya si Tasyo at nagsalita

B: Lolo, ano po ba ang ibig sabihin ng buhay?

Di pa rin sumasagot si Lolo.

B: Kasi, lolo, halos andito na sa akin ang gusto kong pangarap… may trabaho akong maayos… may maiipon siguro ako para sa bukas… kaya ko naman sigurong mabuhay ng matiwasay… na kumain sa gustong kong pagkainan… na lumabas maglakwatsa sa gusto kong paglakwatsahan… pero bakit lolo? Bakit parang may kulang sa buhay ko…

Bodoh watched the old man with imploring eyes… but the old man merely sipped from his glass in a pensive mood… Bodoh watched him for a response for a while…

Kalbo saw his chance and quickly replaced Bodoh’s glass with his own.

Bodoh was starting to get frustrated. He glanced back at his glass expecting it to be empty but to his chagrin, it was still half full. He grabbed it and gulped the liquid down. He did not like drunkenness but there are moments in life when a man has got to drink something down to the point of drunkenness.

Now was such a moment.

B: Walang direksiyon ang aking buhay ata lolo… wala naman na akong masasabi pero para akong dahon na lumulutang sa sa dagat at sumasama lamang sa mga alon…

Kinuha ni Kalbo ang Roundpose sa ilalim ng mesa at kanyang binuksan. Binuhos niya ang konti sa takip at binuhos sa sahig. He looked at the dark splotch it caused and winced. He smiled miserably. After which, he turned back to refill Bodoh’s glass but the old man grabbed the bottle instead and refilled everything including his.

Ngumisi si Kalbo. Napansin yata ng matanda ang kanyang ginagawa mula kanina. Tinungga ulit ni Bodoh ang kanya pero si Kalbo, iniwan ang kanyang serbesa sa lalagyan.

B: Ano nga ba ang ibig sabihin ng buhay lolo? Para saan pa at ako’y humihinga sa ibabaw ng mundo? Aanhin ko ang tatlumpo o apatnapong taon na ganito lang din ang kahihinatnan? Ganito na lang ba ang aking tatahakin sa nalalabing aking buhay?

Ngumisi si Kalbo sa mga katagang nagmumutawi sa bibig ng kaibigan. Nag-isip at nagdesisyong tumungga. Kinuha niya ang baso at uminom ng konti, napangiwi ang bibig sa pait ng alak pero di inalintana at pinasundan ng maalat na mani.

Wala pa ring imik si Tasyo at patuloy na uminom.

Sa labas, unti-unting nilamon ng mga bundok ang nawawalang araw at unti-unting umusad ang dilim sa dapit hapon…

TO be Continued…

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Natsu no omoi

Anata wa dare ka no yōna koto o dō iimasu ka?

I loved my calculations because one simply needs to solve for the value of x and the answer comes out of the calculator. Whether that answer is wrong or not, it comes out in black and white without any other shade of meaning. Maybe that's why I’ve chosen my path and haven’t gone to the humanities as most of my teachers thought I’d go to.

The unpredictability of human nature -  the complexity of human emotions, they gave me pause whenever I thought about it. Fear... the fear of having to deal with those kinds of emotions have always been the wall that stopped me cold… More than any other reason, it has always been my Waterloo...


He stood immobile in front of the train station. How many times had he come here? he wondered… far too many times, it seems… As if somehow he would be able to catch a glimpse of her by merely repeating the process over and over again.

He smiled at the thought. Far into the future, he’ll probably look back at these times and laugh at himself... or remember it with melancholic sadness...

He sighed glancing around… she  won’t be passing today or any other day for that matter - he knew but there still remained a part of him that hoped life would prove him wrong.

Like Gideon who doubted and cast a fleece to test God, he came here to test if this is the path that is his. He prayed even when he knew that God cannot be tested... but being human, he could not stop himself – surely there is something out there that was the sign?

Or maybe he just feared the rejection of a face to face encounter that he knew was coming. After all, he had nothing to offer whereas she had everything. He is old and he is no Adonis that would sweep a girl off her feet by charm or by physical presence. And she is young with her whole life ahead of her... In all aspects, he was nothing - or at least, that's how he felt...

But hope still remains, that dogged desire to see things through and a question continues to ask itself at the back of his mind... the question: what if…

No matter how remote the possibility, there is still that…

The answer is probably no, he feared – that stopped him cold. He reasoned that maybe it was better to hold on unto hope rather than suffer the finality of the door closing on his face. If that made him a coward, which made him hate himself even more – then he accepts that -

What could he offer really?

Nothing... he thought. Just a life that’s still going forward. It is less than what other much better men could offer. He cannot offer riches or a life free of troubles -  not even a guarantee of smiles and laughter in the journey up ahead. The only thing that he could offer is his devotion as himself and his best moving forward to the unwritten future.

Was that enough? he thought. It probably wasn’t…

Does that give him the right to ask then?

It doesn’t…

He hated himself. What would then be better? To leave it unsaid and watch her from a distance – to take comfort only when she finds that one brave man who will give her the life he fervently wants to give? To spend his days in the comfort of imagined dreams and suppositions…

Even if the answer is no, he knew that life is still much better when he could speak up.

‘Watashi wa anata o suki… I just want you to know that… I will not ask for an answer but I just want you to know that I like you…’ To smile shyly and then turn around and hope that the world will open up to swallow him whole after.

But he can only imagine. He’ll probably keep these thoughts to himself – trapped and hidden forever in his mind.

He smiled painfully at the thought. This is his curse in life, it seems –

But that doesn’t stop him from trying… or hoping for it and asking God for fleeces…

He is pathetic, he knew – hiding behind a false façade while drowning in his self-inflicted pain. But he had accepted it. This is his version of love – to love in full but to suffer the pain of silence. Perhaps poets would consider it selfless… but that is merely pain dressed up in finery.

For the truth is, he’d love to be that man that will grow old with her. To be that man who will share her life’s tribulations and troubles. He might not be able to promise happiness for all of time but he can offer all that he is to achieve those smiles.

He sighed, his eyes surveying his surroundings again…


Like an image from a surreal dream, he was suddenly snapped out of his reverie. His eyes focused as his heart lurched from the sudden jolt of comprehension as the voice reggistered–

Coincidence? He asked… but the figure just beyond the glass partition was no illusion.

‘Hi’ he uttered, his mind in chaos… grasping at a line of thought…

And then just like that she turned away. He watched her leave the station and wondered whether he should run after her and confess his mind – but as always he remained rooted where he is, the smile she gave etched on his mind but somehow, he knew the day was better...

Summer comes and goes. It fades to beautiful autumn where the leaves fall off trees to litter the paths of life with beautiful hues. You will live on and find the path that you strive for. Whether that will include me in that journey or whether that will be with someone else, I don’t know. If it is not me, I won’t lie to you because it will make me sad but I shall also be happy to see you find your place in this world. Some people say that the best kind of love is the love that nurtures which is not selfish who lets it go even when his soul is screaming for him to reach out... I don't know...

Winter will inevitably follow close to the heels of summer and it’s cold embrace will make me regret summer’s folly. This is the fate that I accept…

And I will say for eternity that ‘I continue to wear the smile you gave me…’

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