Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I Had A Dream Once

And it was this:

At first there was the universe, or something like the universe — cluttered with stars and dust older than time, all trapped in stillness, silence unexplored, like a secret. Pregnant with impossibilities. I must have been descending from where I was judging by the way the earth looked closer by the second, and I recall Ria telling me long ago that only two things can make you fall. Gravity is one. Though she did not say back then what the other one was, I knew and she knew and no words were needed to be spoken.

There were clouds all of a sudden. I must have smashed through them, a bullet ripping blankets apart, and then they cleared the night sky like curtains parting with the urgency of whispers waiting to be heard. I looked back and I saw the sun. It's strange how its interstellar light shines on a billion sleeping dreamers halfway around the world. I realized, as I often do time and again, that she is somewhere. Just somewhere. Like a flower in a field that is yet to be named. The first to blossom and the last to wither, rising from the earth with the strength and resolve of a woman hungry for the light. She is not asleep though.

There was a translucent wall, a window, and as I looked through it sunlight began to cleanse the town of the night. The darkness over leveled shanties slowly peeled off like bandage revealing badly bruised skin becoming exposed to the angry sun.

The day began, and then it was about to end. Quickly given and taken. Fast, like an alibi slipping smoothly from the lips I yearn to kiss for so long. So long.

Ria. I saw you, five feet and four inches of elegance, arms splayed, palms to the sky as though you are a gift waiting to be claimed. You moved the wind with the slightest touch, and I breathed the breeze if only to inhale these little miracles of your fingertips. The earth you tread, warm and shapeless, is where your toes dignify the splinter of shadows scattered among the detritus like unrealized dreams, because yours is the curse of waking me up just before the best part. You cast your eyes to the ceiling of treetops punctured by a thousand rays from the tender afternoon sun, and I watch you search the fading light for the answers that, perhaps, I will never know. After all, I have never been privy to your private affairs. If I could collapse a hundred years into a day, today would be that day, and by nightfall I could finally claim that I have lived the rest of my life with someone so beautiful I wish tomorrow will never be born. But in endings as in beginnings, time permits the possibility of memory at the cost of things never to endure, a necessary collateral to which nothing can be done.

Five minutes or so. We were elsewhere and I gave you your name. You took away mine, and in the end I became nameless, stripped off of that arbitrary label. You could have called me by any other name you desired. You did not, and I became a stranger.

I had a dream once, and I woke-up not knowing who I will ever be, or what I am meant to become.

Beneath the sky of autumn leaves, of yellow hues ripe with the promise of winter beckoning, Ria smiled at me and I was never the same again. It was enough to set my heart afire throughout the coming days of nothing but the whiteness of snow, as though my survival depended on it. It was enough to melt my solitude, like flame is to ice, a previous life lived in tundra, the sun notwithstanding, and I cannot help but look at her longer than any moment I can remember. She is, after all, the reason why I traveled all the way to a place I barely know, and here she is now standing right in front of my camera, looking as beautiful as the day we first met, a time when I felt like I could carry the entire weight of the world like Atlas and still move on with life with as much grace as I can will myself to show.

I told her about that dream.

That is silly, she said.

I know, I said. I sounded like I was trying to convince myself. Judge, jury, prosecution, defense and accused all at the same time.

She walked to me and reached out. I handed her the camera. She smiled as she browsed the pictures.


...but I stopped there, having interrupted her when she had to look at me with the kind of eyes that beg you to go on and complete your sentence, as if what I was about to say somehow mattered, but I said nothing more. I looked at her looking at her photos. I hoped she saw herself the way my eyes have always seen her in my dreams: five feet and four inches of elegance, the kind of presence that will hardly go unnoticed even by those who have lost their faith in the power of aesthetics. The view of her viewing images of herself was priceless.

For a while, the wind blew her hair across her face.

When will you return to the Philippines? I asked.

She shrugged and handed back the camera. Convince me, she said.

I took the camera. For a while, I had my eyes on that last photograph. If there is a god who could shape a smile so divine it could be a saint on its own, perhaps even free from every kind of sin forbidden since the invention of religion, the one that she had was just that. Most of all, it was contagious.

Challenge accepted, I thought.

Japan is a strange country. The population is declining, young people do not want to have their own children, and the adult entertainment industry continues to grow. You know, like an erection that does not know what it is supposed to do with its newfound girth. Don't you think so, Ria?

She nodded. Then she said Maybe you're right. Japan is a strange country. It interests me. All the more reason for me to stay a bit longer.

But isn't the Philippines just the same? I said, realizing my error. Except, I continued, it is the same in a slightly different way. The population is drastically increasing, young people suddenly become young mothers and fathers whether they like it or not, and yet we no longer even have bomba films just like in the eighties and nineties.

Seventies, she said. She gave me a gentle pat on the head as if I was an urchin lost in the streets of Tokyo. Nice try, she said, but try harder.

It was all over the news. Out of shame, the prime minister committed suicide. Hara-kiri, they say. Seppuku, they say. Barely an hour after the allegation of corruption broke out, he cut his stomach with a sword first thing in the morning. He was having breakfast at the time when he heard the news. Others say all he could find in his kitchen was a bread knife, and that he settled with what he could quickly lay his hands on. Some others say the prime minister must have went ballistic he thought he was a loaf of bread eager for the knife to slice through his innards like branding iron on butter. Maybe he wanted fillet but couldn't get one, so down went the fillet knife to his belly and may god have mercy on his soul. But no matter. Mere suspicion, a trifle accusation was more than enough for him to end his life.

I nodded.

If that were to happen in the Philippines, I seriously doubt if we'll have politicians left, she continued.

Is the Philippines beyond hope then?

She put out her cigarette on the sidewalk. Not at all, she said. On the contrary, I suppose the country is yet to fully realize the only hope that it has. I'm not even talking about the elections.

We walked together toward the setting sun.

I'm sure you know quite well that we still have a long walk ahead, I said. By night, she was through with her story and we were back in her apartment. Body and mind exhausted. But the repartee that we had along the way was not like the ones we've had before. Had it been possible, she could have choked on her own brain. That was how expansive her mind was. And I loved her for it.

I slept on the couch, as usual, because in a country where sex is passé the prospect of romance is as slim as Ria's waistline after skipping three meals in a day.

You must under-HIK! understand that revolutions set history in motion, without which so-HIK! social progress simply becomes a purely academic concern, moot at HIK! at best and, perhaps, a subject better left to HIK! the judgment of those in drrr-HIK! drunken stupor. Ten bottles and people think they have it all HIK! all figured out, as though the answer to our woes is liquor. Anyway, listen, the HIK! the future is simply the past about to happen, and when it happens it does outside the textbook. You HIK! you hear me boy?

I don't remember if I said yes or if she interpreted the way I banged my head on the table as a nod. I don't even remember how we got back home. All I can recall is that when I woke up the following day I had a bad headache as though my forehead was axed in the middle and goodlordjesuschrist Ria is naked and I am naked and we are in the same bed damnit I suddenly had a boner and I didn't know what to do, me and my stiff penis throbbing as if it had a life of its own barely eight inches away from touching her skin and then Ria awakens her eyes all over the body of evidence and I knew and she knew and no words were needed to be spoken.

Ria. Fifty percent Japanese. Fifty percent Filipina. One hundred percent French kiss. I wonder if she sucked my soul out of my lips that morning. I felt almost lifeless for a day.

But she was the best breakfast I have ever had in my entire life, sans the headache. I'm not sure if she felt the same way. What I'm sure of is that I had hickeys on my shoulders and neck when I checked myself in front of the mirror. They were painful, but they were nothing compared to what it felt like when my time to return to the Philippines came and when she simply said Better luck next time homeboy as I walked to the waiting taxi, her hand waving at me, like a knife slicing the air for whatever it is worth, her eyes at me, mine on hers as the car drove slowly, away, around the bend, and she was gone just like that, gone indefinitely, like a dream that will no longer creep into my sleep, because I have been awake for most of my life and yet it is only in my dreams where I find her, and in those several days that we were together the only thing I felt real about her was her prosaic drivel, and I loved her for it, adored her even, pompous she may have sounded.

I have given up convincing her. Now I can say that I had a dream once, and it, she, had a name: Ria. But a little after I left Japan, she made me realize who I should be, or what I should become.

Which is the kind of man that she knows I can never be.


Dani said...

Have I ever told you that you're one of the very few bloggers who can get me to read reaaally long texts without pictures? Still so galing!

Happy new year, you!

LJ said...

you got me here, "yours is the curse of waking me up just before the best part."

i adore your posts, splice. :D

Happy New Year

Simon said...

I usually get discouraged reading really long posts... BUT THIS! This post has really captured my full attention.. It brought me in :) Love this dearly :)

Happy New Year to you!!

citybuoy said...

Can I echo what everyone is saying? Word count is death in our little world but you've got a way with showing without telling. Manigong Bagong Taon, Splice! : I'm in love with your blog and I hope you continue writing all throughout 2014!

kae said...

I get disappointed everytime I visit your blog and there's nothing new. Thank you for this post.:)

Love this: only two things can make you fall. Gravity is one. Though she did not say back then what the other one was, I knew and she knew and no words were needed to be spoken..

Love is so hard to figure out. Maybe mainly because it doesn't require you to think really hard. So there's really nothing to figure out. I've given up trying to live up to his standards. Even if I can afford Ilizarov fixator, I know one way or another he will always find another glitch in my genes. Heck. Im giving up

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

Hi. I know which line you're referrin to haha so ignore my response (on my blog lol)

just sayin.. and passin hoping there's a new post. i'm your stalker remember? xD

i know you don't have much time but I hope you start writing about current events stuff again. if not, well, just keep on writing. yours is good stuff and it's helping me a lot on my IELTS writing task classes ;)

kae said...

so thank you :)

SPLICE said...

Hi Kae! I, too, wish that I'd be able to write about current events more often and post them here. Come to think of it, I still write about sociopolitical stuff, except that I don't usually post the articles here. They're reserved elsewhere --- my computer's hard disk! haha :D

kae.again said...

Why dontcha post them then? Please? :D