Wednesday, October 18, 2006

yuletide in october

You are alone in the round table. You breathe the air that is different from a neighboring province that you had cultured on for a long time. It is morning; not too early and neither it is too late. You are alone, well except for two water pitchers on it, one made of glass and one Tupperware; two delicate chinaware plates covered with large saucers fronting you; a spoon and a fork; and a large bowl of hot tsokolate – and you questioned why it is filled in a bowl. You take off the two saucers that are intended to cover the larger plates, seeing what is hidden beyond its fragile innocence.

A weak steam goes out of the tiny open you make, it reaches your olfactory senses that awakens Ben – your dear old friend for the longest time – and groans in annoyance urging you to start filling your mouth with food that you are yearning for the past months. You hastily put the two saucers aside and immediately marvel at the sight that fronts you: slices of meatloaf coincidentally arranged to form a smiley face, and the other plate a large flat circle of scrambled egg. Whoa! That is the best breakfast you have. Not because it is the first time you are going to divulge into such feast but the presence of your mother around and your nephews playing at the living room add the most tasteful flavor that enriches your palate. Without telling anyone for the longest time about your peculiar panache, you take three full scoops of tsokolate from the bowl and pour it into your two-cup rice. Now, your secret is revealed.

Your mother incessantly looks for her compiled compact discs and cassette tapes of Christmas music around your house. She insists that she place it in shelf at a corner in your abode that is full of mixed-up furniture: two coffee tables with accompanying a pair of hard-wood chairs, two sofas, three refurbished cabinets, another two antique lost dining chairs that still came from your grandparent’s ancestral house, five heavy wooden tables, a piano, and a wide array of multicolored objects that outstand in the domination of brown and dark green hues. Finally your mother finds it and hurries toward your VCD component with speakers of different sizes scatter on the table and even below the table. At first she is questions speaking to the air on which music should she play while you continuously gobble down on your meal, until she decides to tune in to Jose Mari Chan. Inserting the audio tape that is now five-years-old, it immediately play on the track A Perfect Christmas.

My idea of a perfect Christmas // is to spend it with you…

You suddenly stop from your gluttony; the line of the song tingles down from your throat going down your stomach and gives a strange quiver in your deeper insides, prompting your mind to think back all over again when you have not ventured yet the alluring innocence of the city of the gentle people:

You were all seven then; three ladies and four boys. You never thought of tagging them as men because all the time, even though you were not yet half-skilled in the English vocabulary, you always thought that they are the same age as you are. Your reasons? You said that they usually committed the same mistake over and over again – and if not the same mistake done over and over again, they committed something worse than the previous case. So, they stay as boys until now. You interrogated yourself if you will consider yourself a man by now, and yup, basing on your experience meter, you are an inch above from them but not enough to be called as a man; you are still somewhere in the middle, just like a slice of salami or cheese sandwiched between two piece of wheat bread, getting ready to be bitten or forget it that it actually exists there. Again, you were seven then.

There was your eldest brother, who at first was so close to you that now you barley even talk to with each other – what’s more, you even think that he is not present in your house who unquestionably is sitting right behind you.

And also your sister that you have continually outrun the height always assisted you in making school projects when you were in elementary. Up to know she cared for your studies – well, all your sisters do.

Then there was another sister of yours who encouraged you to read and read, taught you to study harder and made you avoid any scary shows that you tried to hardheadedly endure in one sitting. As of this moment, she’s deciding if she would pursue her dentistry dream to tend your medical-wonder-set-of-teeth.

Then another brother of yours that set off steam so early whenever his serenity is punctuated with a child’s laughter especially in social gatherings which in return he kept any electrical music component playing, reaching the levels to the highest decibels, and you can’t even forget the day when he banged your head with a plastic dipper out of sheer irritation. Good thing is your head is thicker than any plastic dipper in the world for it was proven by the midmorning sunlight and your mum’s garden plants how the poor dipper broke into pieces upon encountering your head. Now, you two barely speak with each other.

In a party or dinner for two // anywhere would do…

Then there was your sister too; so cheerful yet also very emotional. She is creative in her own little ways, enjoys all kind of handcrafting. Loves chocolate like everyone else of the family; she has this unique characteristic of maintaining the same figure. She is always told about diabetes but this doesn’t stop her from craving more. Now, she surprised you when she gave a pair of slippers that is much costly than your monthly salary at the university publication.

And finally your brother that really gets along your other brother that banged your head with a dipper. He was so meticulous on what and how you wear your clothes. Your fashion statement in those days doesn’t suit his creative capacity. These days, you always failed him in your planned exhibit and also he doesn’t comment that much on what you look like when you go out on a weekend at the nearest mall.

Add the father, the mother, the in-laws, the guests, the helpers and the incoming boarders which compose of stray cats, dogs, rats, snakes, turtles and the birds, your numbers were gradually increasing. But fast forward, the father goes out for work, your sister goes to a farther place along with your other sister, your other other sister ventures to have a home away from you, your brother which you treated as like any dormer who’s occurrence is not so important to you kept on going home late, and your other other brothers, from being too stuck with each other, are also going home late like there is no mother worrying what might happen to them.

Always light up our lives. // Simple pleasures are made simple, too…

Fast, fast, fast forward, there you are silently sitting in front of a plate completely smudged by the dregs of your tsokolate creating a dark-brown pattern that either amuse or depress you. You gather up all the things that need to be washed. You hum along the music, that through your community’s silence, the air brings the notes to your ears.

You neither want to mull over those fragments in your life nor to feel the accompanying penetrative emotions the tune carries along but the stills of images that wander in your mind are so clear it brings your eyes watery. You hide it by whistling with the merry tune at the same time washing a dish that has a broken part. You let your fingers run over its jagged side and wonder where the other part been left or simply thrown.

Looking through some old photographs // faces and friends we’ll always remember…

Wiping your forehead that is slightly sweaty with your security face towel, you go to the sala and sit in your favorite sofa – the kind of sofa that if you would go plunging onto its soft and plush cushions, you would only receive a tiny hill of pain at the back of your head after hitting its low wooden headrests.

You are on the action of sending a message using your phone when you abruptly realize you forget where you place it. Asking anyone that exists in the second floor of the house, you feel vindicated when the answer you get is: “Naa ra na diha, pangitaa ug tarong.”

After long minutes of searching for your beloved unique phone, you find it behind a portrait of your brother that has a tiny tear on its nose. Hastily pressing some keys that leads you to the service wherein you can start writing your message, you send the message just in time for a vibration on your phone and an annoying words that literally fills up your cellphone screen:

Check Operator Services

When you check your inbox knowing you receive a message because of the vibration’s indication, you are more astounded when another set of words fills the screen one more time: Natigil na ang iyong UNLIMITXT service…

I can’t think of a better Christmas // Than my wish coming true…

And before you will throw away your phone that you think is completely lifeless, it buzzed again that prompts you to read a message. It is a message from your “companion.” You have never yet formulated another derogatory word for “friend” because you beli
eve there is no such thing. Eventually, you realized you are missing someone or anyone who are not in your midst.

It is indeed funny to discover that once you are in another nostalgic place, both your inner and outer being misses people and things not accessible from where you are standing. You cannot recover from the string of occurrences that happen in that short period of time so you go out of the house and played with the stray cats – and still whistling along Jose Mari Chan. And Ben is happy.

And my wish is that you’d let me spend //
My whole life with you.

My idea of a perfect Christmas //
Is spending it with


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