Monday, February 28, 2011

Concept Human

[Last part of the "Voices of I" series]

I think I no longer have a voice. Then, silence.

Standing by the church patio, Joseph looked prim with his barong tagalog. Designed by a couturier two years ago, his outfit was tailored barely three months before the wedding. The morning sky seemed not to delay the promise of another day's worth of summer. All the while, the sunlight polished a gentle luster on his leather shoes. From where he was, Joseph scarcely moved. Lost in a catalog of images somewhere at the back of his mind, he saw something with pristine clarity. In a previous lifetime not too long ago, he was Mary's husband and she was his wife. They were happy then and their late night strolls in Paris were made lovelier by the way Mary pressed her hand with his. It was tight and strangely familiar. In those evenings, the damp cobblestone steps were always illuminated by street lamps that have seen better days before the turn of the twentieth century.

Their story, it seems, has been refined by an amalgam of history, with the years jumping back and forth as if time did not stretch infinitely like a straight line. On countless moments when the sun is about to break its light on the eastern horizon, Joseph would find Mary beside him, sleeping like a tender maiden betrothed to the love of her life. He is someone she has met on first times too many to mention. This gave Joseph the unquestionable assurance that someday, in another lifetime, they will meet again in a rendezvous far too perfect to be a mistake. Perhaps a plot that repeats itself time and again bears the incalculable imprints of forever.

In one lifetime, Joseph was a self-styled geisha who eloped with Mary, a divorced intelligence officer at the height of the occupation of Manchuria. In yet another lifetime, they raised their family of eight in an African coastal town. Years of protest proved unavailing; foreign ships harvested the bounties of the sea while the emaciated fisherfolk sulked in utter despair. Joseph and Mary lost two daughters from death through poverty. Still, in quite another, the carpenter Joseph and the virgin Mary had a child in Bethlehem at the time of Herod the Great's rule. It was not in any way a great time for the rest of the world.

And more. One February night, they met in a bar. In a parallel time, she was flipping burgers and he was a student. Eighty years ahead, her name was Roxanne. Eighty years more, she was Caprice.

I have seen Joseph like a mirror reflection. I have seen him blindly wander through these countless lifetimes, unrelentingly groping the dark by the palm of his hands in search of something lost, or someone who was never there, and with only the memory of Mary to guide him. I have seen Mary, too, and I miss her. But this is not supposed to be my story, at least not on print.

The Gothic church was an imposing figure against the backdrop of sprawling acacia. At nine that morning, the bridal car arrived. Stepping out of the white Mercedes, Mary was still as beautiful as any one of the days and nights when Joseph met her in places he could barely enumerate. Her very presence catapulted his mind back to the present, the is.

It is true that the world each time is different. It gets bigger, sometimes smaller, and it will never be the same as the last. In all these, Joseph takes their burning desire to be reunited as the only unwritten constant. Everything else that is written and volatile implodes. The gradual death of memory is a decay that cannot be undone, like ancient acacia falling victim to the weakness of their aging roots. Always, the ground below shifts. Street lamps have changed in a continuum. The cobblestone steps appear and disappear, with no guarantee that they will reappear some other century. In this state of affairs, flux is the rule. Joseph and Mary themselves are the only exceptions. It is no surprise, therefore, that Joseph will still be able to recognize Mary among the million strangers who have nothing to do with them. Now, Mary is in front of the church.

But Joseph could tell that something was amiss.

The entourage went ahead and the sound of the church bells began to ripple through the woods. Mary began to walk towards the altar. Her pace was slow and yet she had an aura of confidence. Joseph could see her in that lonely procession. But every second, her figure turned smaller, more distant, as the end of her gown unfortunately dragged along the way. Finally, Mary stopped. Chris looked at Mary with an expression Joseph has seen before.

After all the rituals, the magic words came. I do, Mary said. Chris did the same. Joseph did not say a word. He was seated far back where the sound of the applause and the blankness of an inner silence enough to break one's spirits become acquaintances for the first time.

Sometimes, it only takes two words to make a man suffer a voiceless cry, only to wait, and hope, for another lifetime just to find his voice again.

Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6


Anonymous said...

You keep on amazing me more and more. :)

Have a nice day, Sir Splice.

SPLICE said...

Thank you Sir Nu :)

sub said...

hahahaha! very funny! sa lahat ng post mo this one really made me laugh, as in!

ang tagal ko sa climax tapos...hahaha!

i do...