Friday, September 23, 2011

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.


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