living on the 10th
May 23, 2017 § 2 Comments
It was the eighth day in a row that I turned to my side to the aroma of freshly roasted coffee. The slick from my sweat made being in bed with the persistent heat unbearable, but surprisingly the warm scent soothed me. Someone several floors down must have finally pursued an old flame, that burning passion. The blinds right beside my bed afforded me shadows to the lives below – mostly through the sounds I heard and the redolence I smelled. Strange voices, strange noises, charcoal burning, and curries stewing. Animated conversations in foreign tongues would sometimes keep me up at night, usually annoying but not as much as that rogue mosquito intent on whispering his tiny tales directly to my ear. Like most people where I came from, I had lived in a house most of my life. With my room always on the second floor, the view from the window carried different memories as I grew up. When I was six, one evening in Sampaloc, I looked out and felt the overwhelming distance that separated me from my parents. The black car that they were in was leaving. When I was 12, I looked out to the life in the streets of Pio del Pilar that I was not allowed to participate in: barefoot kids running, shouting profanities and giddy laughter, as vehicles skillfully navigated bike tracks and balls. Not that I wanted to. When I was 16, I pulled down all my curtains nightly to escape the view of the large mango tree that stood guard right in front of me. I always saw it as ominous, though not once did it bring me any particular trouble. Every morning, I’d wake up to my curtains neatly bundled and my windows wide open, enough to give me a chill. “The breeze is wonderful”, my dad would repeatedly keep on exclaiming. Only on bright weekend mornings would I look out through my windows. We left before the sun rose on Mondays, as we lived in the suburbs of Dasmarinas only during the weekend. The rest, we spent in Makati. Now at 28, I look out from the tenth floor into the sight of concrete buildings. Lighted windows in random patterns block the skyline, yet they magnetize my eyes to a strange sight that hold conflicting feelings. They remind me of how far I’ve come, but also of how far I’ve gone. It’s strange that I’ve been recently having these spells of suddenly realizing my reality. As if I usually wasn’t living in it, something not impossible. I’d be walking down the street clutching my groceries, or sometimes in the middle of transferring fluid between two flasks in the laboratory. And it would hit me like the first splash of a numbing cold shower. Simple as three-worded sentences. “Inay is gone.” “I’m in Singapore.” “I’m turning 30.” Undeniable facts, common knowledge, disclosed to most if not to everyone, yet they somehow still surprise me. A brief rinse of clarity from the everyday drudgery. But it doesn’t happen when I look out the window. In that gaze, they come in run-on sentences, lacking punctuation and still, a conclusion.