Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ruminations of A School Peon

Where I come from, it is a crime to smile. The force of law accompanies every swing of the sovereign’s flabby arms against the table. Standing as I tow my words from the short distance between my brain and my throat, the professor begins to impose his authority, as if my silence is the birth of an endless and unforgivable mea culpa. And then a word, an incorrigible phrase, a sentence—I was ready to regurgitate and vomit all three hours of what I learned last meeting but I reeled myself. His presence meanders in complete autonomy through the forlorn spaces of the room, clawing my courage with neither mercy nor caution while I stutter in my vain attempt to not sound like him, a lone German fascist trumpeting hate speech before a crowd of Polish Jews. For committing mistakes too stark to be simply ignored, I let things be. The blade must cleave sick flesh and the hammer must break brittle bones if only to purify our less than genteel stock. I smiled, though, and I became an instant convict with a lethal sentence hanging on my nose.

It was not the first time that I died.

Silence fortifies the halls, concealing a vista of prison cells where freedom is a word never spoken. Rules dominate the marble castle to the hilt. Inside, the footsteps of those who drag their heavy heart with their feet to elsewhere—some never to return—are intermittent, as if their life is merely an incident to their being human, if at all they still are. I stood for almost thirty minutes, stealing furtive glances at the sunken garden through the window amid the eternal blabber of the king. Most of the time, I am distressed by the imposing wrath of the institution where I study, leaving me with only the swagger of a cripple to nurse my broken pride before I walk home. The course requires tremendous effort and patience, both of which I rarely have on days and nights too few to count. Include the more pressing concerns of life outside school and you have the perfect noose where people in the same league can hang together or hang separately. The ignoramus can simply choke from his own breath and die with the muteness of the solstice.

I think my brain is as hard as concrete. It is too stubborn. It eschews learning and all its attendant verities. Science and religion might offer a little saving grace but I am afraid I am beyond redemption. Or maybe I am simply afraid. Fear has obfuscated all the reasons for me to cloud my mind with more of the same conventional wisdom. I would rather be a happy fool than a miserable genius. To say the least, I am a school peon truncating his life by living it with regret.

But I usually tremble in awe. In front of the professor, I imagine scenes of medieval fancy. The imperial joke sits on the throne wearing the royal crown that bears the lackluster insignia of regal provenance. It symbolizes the loathing of a thousand people who were born to inherit a thousand sickles. With the ferocity of a toothless gerbil and the impulse of travesty, the monarch commands the mutilation of dreamy heads and the massacre of a thousand and more hearts all weary of their fate. There is nary an exemption from the onslaught. All subjects must yield to a decree so cold and divine even the sun might freeze into a thin icicle. Those who manage to survive will live to witness another day of torment. With madness, we wash our lives. With dry zeal, we rinse our anxieties. But even with everything, armories and all, we are nothing.

The fantasy ends to the recitation of surnames. Attendance, the professor says, must be checked. Never mind if the students are merely present in body. Just stay inside the classroom and osmosis, if not the intercession of the saints, will take care of the rest.

Waking-up to the sight of a pile of unfinished readings is never comfortable. It is not the kind of breakfast I am excited to take first thing before waxing my mind with poetic and prosaic incantations a few hours after sunrise. Crazy enough to try to smash my head against the morning air, my mind would be ruffled with thoughts. They attempt to telescope toward the azure sky if only to prove that there is more to life than grand mannerisms. As if holding a solo concerto with only one patient attendee—my dog—I would sing a rhapsody that is far too bohemian for my taste and begin jostling the first ten of a hundred or so pages.

Confused, I smoke my coffee and drink my cigarette. Three years after and I still ask myself the same question.

When will I love what I study?


Anonymous said...

Hands down.

the green breaker said...

These dealings only recount our slavery to learning. It is both painful and beneficial.

This is the reason why I love reading you-you always have plenty of figures of speech.

ken said...

I have been in the same boat. I flunked them once and so I had to pay the price. It turns out I need to catechize myself horribly to love them. And I know sooner or maybe, I will get the hang of it.

SPLICE said...

Thank you! People like you who see something good in the things I write inspire me to write more, and better.

@green breaker
Studying is excruciating. I've read in your blog that you are busy with school stuff as well. Cheers to another semester of academics! :)

I've had my share of flunking in some of my subjects in the past. Right now, I'm in bad shape. It's history repeating itself. I hope I survive. I hope we all survive.

gaye said...

When will I love what I study?...

-- the day you'll stop loving her.

ano na nangyari sa'yu? tunaw na yelo sa mga halo-halo wala kapa!

miss you :(

Anonymous said...

Yes, exactly! :) Oh, I really have to do a lot of readings here in your blog. I hope I could find time! xD Thanks, by the way! Good luck to you, too!