Thursday, March 17, 2011

Last Letter from the Grave

[Last part of the "Insurrections" series]

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles Cemetery,
Nabua, Camarines Sur
December 9, 1945

Beloved Matilda,

You will never personally hear from Sylvia again. The person is dead, shot on that misty October morning. The lifeless body was left to rot with the maggots in the forest or whatever it is that feeds on flesh before it decays. The eyes were still wide open, as if for the first time it saw the face of the death angel wearing a grimace that implores misery and anguish while extinguishing every faint semblance of hope on the fallen. I am sure the messenger of the underworld saw the face of a traitor in that corpse. The second bullet did it. I had to be certain that the first time the traitor meets death will also be the last. Now, as I have said before, Sylvia is no longer in the forest. She is somewhere else.

Her sky is the ground. From where she is, 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. She will write you a letter from the grave one of these days explaining why she is dead and prefers it that way.

I remember it without ambiguity. It took thirteen days before she was finally convinced to join the insurrection. Her life in Manila was not easy from the start, but it was the perfect leeway to indoctrinate her without remorse. At first, she hesitated, knowing fully well that the dangers are as real as fresh bruises that tinge the surrounding veins. It was made perfectly clear to her beforehand that the fight will be terrifying, leaving no breathing greenery for the coward shepherd and the insolent lamb. Indeed, it was. Just the thought of close combat with the Japanese, the Americans, the Constabulary—take your pick—using daggers that rape every mortal flesh, or bullets that tear through anything, can create tremors in the senses that can make the heart wobble off the chest. But she eventually carved in.

Looking back, I think she is more of a man than any one of the comrades, even all of them combined. She would fearlessly confront the enemy as if she's flawlessly executing a tactical move, exacting one enemy life after another with her rifle. The rest of my comrades would only trail her steps, making her the indestructible shield that will dodge the bullets for them. In one previous encounter with the Americans, she got shot on her right arm, creating a bloody crease on her skin. The wound bled profusely but she survived. One of the comrades almost died from fainting after seeing the laceration on one of the casualties lying helplessly on the ground. Sometimes I think it is a shame that they carry their balls like a heavy luggage between their thighs and call themselves men. Perhaps, had it not been for the casual erection that they clutch with their hands, they are only good for reproduction and nothing more. And yet, they see themselves as god's gift to women?

Speaking of women, I have gathered that Saint Gertrude of Nivelles is the patroness of travelers and of the dead for one reason or another. In any case, as in my case, I think her patronage only applies half every time. Either I am traveling or I am dead. It is only one or the other and never both or none at all, unless Saint Gertrude is also willing to nurse the souls of the traveling dead. Which reminds me of this: it took me about two months to reach Nabua from Calauag. The travel was excruciating, especially since there was no other way but south, very far from where we began. Along the way, I also traversed some parts of Pili and I found out that you were right. Pili is a patient in irreversible comatose, as if it is dead and alive at the same time.

Dead and alive. It is interesting when we squeeze two opposites into the same sentence, akin to lining the north and south poles on the equator. It makes the thought both heavy and light, round and flat, big and small, without exactly knowing why that is so. Strangely, when you take one out and leave the other behind, the thought is no longer the same. It changes and it changes very sharply, as though a bicycle is on a limbo after losing a wheel, or a chair loses balance after a leg is unhinged. The north is never north without the south. A traitor is already dead and it just does not feel like the first time.

You said the pen and the moleskin were for Sylvia. They are, and have always been, in the proper hands. Antonio was the traitor. I shot him. I have no more room left for apologies and metaphors. I understand you love the man. But he was a traitor, both as a rebel and as a lover.

Home at last but never there,


Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5


mayen said...

SPLICE, I awarded you stylish blogger award. please check it out.

Sey said...

I was able to read the this one and the second to the last.

I thought the traitor is Sylvia.

SPLICE said...

Thanks for the tag! I posted a comment on your entry :)

Thanks for reading! :)

sub said...

i had everything all wrong. like sey, i thought antonio was the traitor. it was a good fiction though, unconventional ending. reading every paragraph as if you were always at the climax :)

you should get a decent sleep..ill be seeing herson soon, i hope you can join us!