Tuesday, March 1, 2011

First Letter from the Grave

[Part 1 of the "Insurrections" series]

San Roque Cemetery, Manila
August 16, 1945

Beloved Matilda,

My sky is the ground. From where I am, there is no rain to speak of, not even a cloud or a silver lining. There is no sun either, only a complete darkness that consumes everything and leaves desolation in its wake, one that is not necessarily ugly. Sometimes, even a blind man can see beauty in absolute nothing. I am not blind, though, just dead.

But these objects of vision, of aesthetics and of romanticized narratives deserve scant notice for I no longer have eyes. You, however, may lavish them on your bidding. It should never be a sin to commune with the sky and the earth. We are all very much part of everything else there is, there has been, and there will ever be. But that is for Hindus to say.

The beauty of the world, no matter how trivial, can live on its own without the need to summon a dead man just to testify about its glory. The corpse of a strange friend, or a friendly stranger, can no longer tell if there is still a universe out there, or at least disprove that a universe existed way before people began to listen to servile profiteers called priests, they who think that they carry the weight of the world on their cassock. A dead man cannot argue a point, much less speak. From where I am, though, peace springs eternal. There has never been an angry god traipsing the borders of banality and dogma, or a throng of false ascetics obsessed with the thought of chopping off the heads of infidels. I am saying these things because verbosity is always rare from a man dead for a month and twelve days.

You can envy the state of affairs that we have. The feeling of solitary calm comes in unperturbed abundance. Here, silence is a plague which the dead will never die from. It makes us a step closer to immortality at the expense of being there.

I am writing you this for no serious reason. People always try to find a reason to everything, as if they are squeezing water from stone, unabashed, and with the same exhilaration as someone eager to decode a cipher. No doubt, they have the one thing which creatures already reduced to ashes and bones no longer have—a brain. I hope they are quite aware of that stubborn fact. I wish I could tell them, perhaps through a litany contrary to everything solemn, foot on my grave and fist to the heavens, but they will not probably listen to a dead man. Besides, I can only take cudgels as far as my bravado will permit me. I may well even be the bravest coward ever to embrace death, similar to how lovers embrace an immaculate warm body.

Someday, you will share this same bed of soil with the rest of us, the unfortunate victims of the original sin whose only fault was to have been born. Because the population of us whose lives have already been purged is innumerable, one cannot help but feel a bit confused. I do not know who my neighbors are. I was already dead when our friends dug this hole for my death chamber. Sometimes, I am tempted to ask the names of those already in eternal repose if only I still have my lips, or if only I could borrow yours for three hours. It could well be a fine gesture, one that I have not really tried back in our barrio when I was still a young visionary. If you think that living with thousands of breathing strangers in an urban community is a sore bore, wait until you die. I tell you, there is no party here, only a slow gathering of carcass. The scent of fresh death is always nowhere near divine.

Only now do I truly appreciate how lovely death can be. There is more to death than the absence of life. For enclosing a pen and a moleskin in my casket, I am deeply indebted for what you did. You know me more than I know who I am. My eternal gratitude will be yours from tonight.

There is, however, one concern that I have. I find it rather odd to be buried in a cemetery named after the patron saint of gravediggers. It may as well be the most putrid insult I have ever had for being an atheist. Is this god's curse?

Six feet below,


Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5


ais said...

you can't stay in your coffin you blasphemous infidel! your soul is damned for all of eternity and "He" made a reservation for you in his 6th circle of "you know what"! now! chop! chop! ...of course i'm kidding.

god's curse is most likely as fictional as his concept is. don't stress yourself, dead boy.

...but if you ever change your mind, you can always send God a copy of this sentimental letter. just be sure to put a return address.

sub said...

its too late to share to antonio the 'word of God' for there is no soul to save; however you are still alive, i hope you dont share the same belief with him.

SPLICE said...

A return address will most certainly just be too much of a trouble for God, or any one of his messengers. I wander as often as I breathe. God's mailmen will have to scour the country, or at least Quezon City, just to find me and hand me his letter.

I haven't told you one thing yet. I'm an agnostic, which is not quite like an atheist.

Spiral Prince said...

That was refreshing. Thank you, Splice. :)

ais said...

@splice: oh puh-lease. god's omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent... and also works in mysterious ways.

SPLICE said...

George Carlin, my favorite atheist [who, incidentally, is a comedian], might even add that god is Joe Pesci.

@Spiral Prince
Thank you as well :)

jhengpot said...

simple yet meaningful :)

feel free to visit and leave comment :)

Desperate Houseboy said...

makahulugan kaso nose bleed ako. :)

SPLICE said...

I'll visit and leave a comment as well :)

@Desperate Houseboy
I'm as anemic as anybody else, to the point that, in most cases, I do not even understand what I write. But that's the crazy old me; still the same, though. Thanks for the visit :)

ais said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ais said...

oh yes, because joe pesci gets it done! haha.

Anonymous said...

Here is where faith really comes into the picture. And labels are brought up to mask reality.

Shaninay said...

You believe in Bathala. I am quite certain. :)

SPLICE said...


In Antonio's words:

You know me more than I know who I am.

Well, at least you used to ;p

Ann said...

While reading, I found myself chuckling at the tone which the story/letter was delivered/written. It's twistedly humorous, ^^. Please, I mean that as a compliment.
Great piece, Thanks for following my blog, ^^

Ann said...

While reading, I found myself chuckling at the tone which the story/letter was delivered/written. It's twistedly humorous, ^^. Please, I mean that as a compliment.
Great piece, Thanks for following my blog, ^^

SPLICE said...


You are right on both counts -- it is twisted, and it is meant to be humorous as it is a letter :)

Thank you for dropping by and I look forward to reading your posts on your blog :)

Anonymous said...

I read this when i saw the second lettr .. So i read and i read again (your ideas need concentration and a free imagination i realize )

SPLICE said...


Thanks for the tip. The challenge is accepted :)

Interestingly, you remind me of Matilda :)