Uncle’s choice

My sister sent me the other day screencaps of an uncle’s Facebook page. This uncle was the husband of my mother’s older sister who passed away from breast cancer roughly two years ago. I didn’t have enough time to establish a close relationship with him when I was growing up. He was one of those more sensible people in my approximation as a kid. I was wont to eavesdrop on living room conversations among adults as they exchanged gossips and complaints about their partners and children while I made them believe I was innocently napping on the couch.

The photos struck me as bizarre because I initially thought it was he with his eldest daughter–though I knew my sister had sent that to me in order to make a point–I sensed a tone of judgment in the absence of an accompanying text to the screenshots I received. He was with another woman–and by the looks of it–a girlfriend. Upon closer inspection of the photos, the woman he was standing next to was quite unlike my aunt. Whereas my aunt was rotund, though not downright overweight, the woman in the picture was svelte like an ideal Siamese cat. While he and my aunt had maintained that ample distance between married couples during family get-togethers, an unwritten rule they needed to follow to avoid calling attention to themselves and also because married couples think PDAs are best left to the young and those liaising with their paramours, this uncle and his new girlfriend threw that unwritten rule out of the window in the first photo–my uncle can be seen wrapping his right arm around the younger woman.

He was looking straight at his phone camera with that unnatural twinkle in his eyes for someone in his late 50s. He looked in love, rather uncommon for a man of his age who’s with his partner for a good thirty years or so. The last time I remember myself sporting that twinkle was when I was 16. I am twice that age now, and the memory of that glow in my eyes is in a dusty drawer of my distant personal history. He looked content, very happy, almost looking like an Overseas Filipino Worker who has worked in the Middle-East for more than a decade without the benefit of seeing his family even once while his contract is in effect, and finally arriving home after years of doing construction on the Burj or Dubai airport.

In the second photo he kept his distance from the younger woman lest it be misconstrued negatively–of course he minded what people in my hometown would think of his new-found love, with a younger woman, and two years after the death of his wife, and in a place where the surviving party in a marriage is expected to be perpetually loyal not only to his partner when she is still around but even to the memory of the beloved who passed on, and to stay devoted to no one except to their children who may be adults by now but who still subject their parents to the same expectation to be responsible for them as a child would. He’s not given cart blanche to do whatever he likes, but his age more or less gives him excuse to be oblivious to what the neighbors will say if he desires so, and my uncle chooses to not care anymore and to follow the path where he thinks happiness is waiting for him.

And I am not wrong. Throughout the years, he has remained one of the more sensible people I have a wonderful chance of knowing.

 

Querido M.,

Dear M.,

The last month without you was a blur. I survive daily, thanking that Tumi is next to me, feeling sad that he has to live in a small space, asking himself what has become of the white man on whose lap he used to sleep when he was recovering from his operation.

In so many ways Tumi and I are very similar. The only difference is that he is a cat and there is no way for him to articulate to me the extent of his sadness. Or perhaps I am only projecting onto him what I feel now. But I can express better in writing things that I cannot say to you in spoken English because my sincere thoughts are masked by my pride, my disappointment, and my desire to appear strong in front of you. But I know I am vulnerable. I am so weak. I am barely holding it together.

And so I have to write this.

I am very sad, M.. Initially, I thought I will successfully get over you after a while, but you have left me so broken and so unable to move on. No amount of logic will persuade me that there is a better life in your absence, that being with someone with fewer issues and drama in life will make me happier. I always gravitate towards you because I know I will only feel joy and happiness with you around.

I’m writing this not because I want to convince you to reconsider me, not because I want you to change your mind (because I know nothing in this world will convince you to change your mind. Nothing.). I have come to know you very well despite the short amount of time we were together. Because I wanted to know you and understand you because I cared. I wanted to be your friend, your lover, your partner in life. And for this I know that your decision when we went to Baler is final.

But I hope you leave in your heart a small opening for me.

For the more than one year we were together, I know deep inside that what I had for you is real.

I have nothing to offer you, except my devotion and loyalty.

I certainly felt you loved me. That you cared for me. And those moments were the moments I felt the happiest. I cannot promise you the future, M.. We both do not know what will become of us. But I promise you my everyday, to decide to love you every day of my life that I am alive on this planet. I do not ask that you be perfect, M., because I love you for who you are, the imperfections and flaws included.

M., I want to take care of you, to make you happy until the very last days we spend together. I want to see you grow old, until your mind is unable to recognize me because I know your heart will. I’m crying while writing this letter because I never felt this kind of sadness in my entire life. Because I never felt love of this kind, this intense and pure.  

With all honesty, I do not know why I’m writing this. Perhaps I am kept alive by the hope that when C. decides to leave for good someday, you still have that bit of love for me. I am holding on to that hope. M., please allow me to have that small piece of love. I promise to be a better man, to be the best man for you. I’ll consciously close my mouth when I eat, I will wash my face when I get home, take a shower and shampoo three times a day, cook for you, exercise with you, not look at other guys, listen to everything you say, not argue with you, cum every time we fuck, not keep anything from you, take care of you, be more sensitive, be in the moment, not to eat fried food, be less sensitive to your sarcasm, be less sarcastic.

I love you very much, M.. That’s the only thing you cannot stop me from doing.

I cannot move on because I will not move on M..

I am so deep in this shit.

I love you.

John

Juanma

I am often intrigued (I’m not sure if this is the best word to describe it) by all these that are happening between us. The start, it was something I did not think would lead to anything deep and beautiful, but to something deep and beautiful it led to.

This morning, while walking toward you, you smoking what remained of that cigarette stick always stuck in between your index and middle fingers, I barely held myself from smiling. I felt I was again a teenage boy mesmerised by the sight of a teacher he admires a lot, whose attention he wants to catch, whose affirmation of his good works he always seeks.

The noonday sun as it shone on your face almost blinded me. I tried to ask you a mundane question because if I said anything other than ‘how are you’ I’d betray the upwelling of excitement I had inside me. And it has long ceased to be appropriate for a man my age.

I have told you that my circumstance keeps me from being with you, and you told me that my choice of the word ‘circumstance’ is something that you don’t like. You’re right. It’s a word used by a coward, someone not brave enough to understand our agency as humans who are always given that choice to redirect our journey to wherever our hearts lead us.

Forgive the cliche. I have not written here for a long time, and I have become quite rusty. This is my way of documenting this very important decision I’m making as an adult.

Yesterday was a good day. We walked under the trees, we lay on the grass, you lay your head on my chest, you read me a poem, we kissed; it was so good I didn’t want for the day to end. I wanted it to go on forever. But my circumstance keeps on pushing itself on me.

But this shall soon change because you’ve given me enough reasons to.

As for irony, I shall write about it soon.

Lecture

My professor extended her lecture until it felt to me staying in that room was beyond my ability to endure. She stretched her talk for 7 minutes. It was 8:07 in the evening. Every extra minute was an affront to decency. At that point, I wanted nothing but to go home, eat dinner, and sleep.

I’m tired.

Muddied thoughts

I’m a rather resilient man. I pursue nearly endlessly what I desire and what I believe I deserve. Only when I feel that I have exhausted possible means do I stop and go back to my room and relish silence. I sulk less now. Pouting has gone too unbecoming to somebody my age. The fact that I am using this blog to broadcast what I feel at the moment is cringe-inducing. Finding solace in the most-often anonymous interactions here is very juvenile. But the height of my asininity is this thinking that this muddied language is an expression. I have not communicated anything, except maybe that my thoughts are in a dirty puddle now.

Para sa’yo na nag-enroll sa akin

Babe,

Ang hirap magpasalamat sa iyo gamit ang Skype na sobrang unpredictable ang connection. Magkikita din naman tayo six days from now. Magsusulat na lang muna ako.

Magsisimula ako by saying ‘Thank you’ dahil nag-leave ka pa para lang pumunta ng UP at i-enroll ako. Salamat at sorry, dahil kahit hindi ko sinasagot ang tawag mo, ala-tres ng hapon diyan, alas-tres ng madaling araw rito, naipasok mo pa rin ako sa mga courses na pinri-enlist ko.

Kahit na sabi ng isang Chinese-looking prof sa iyo e hindi ako pwedeng hindi kumuha ng isang core course in a semester, nagawan mo pa rin ng paraang kausapin ang isang old-looking prof para mapirmahan lang ang Form 5a ko. Alam kong napaka-charming mo, pero hindi ko alam na ganun katindi ang charm mo.

Source: http://soloflighted.com

Salamat sa pagbyahe mo galing Makati papuntang Diliman, Babe, sa kabila ng init at siksikang MRT at nakakatakot na jeepney-ride from Quezon Ave papuntang Campus, di baleng magkawala-wala ka. Di baleng maluma kaagad ang bago mong sapatos. Nakaka-touch isiping nakayanan mong gawin yon, ayaw  na ayaw mo pa namang naglalakad ng mahaba at madali kang napapagod.

Salamat sa paghahanap ng Vinson para i-register ang iskolaship ko (at makakatipid ako ng kaunti ngayong sem), sa paghahanap ng OUR na nasa kabilang ibayo pa. Kahit na sumakay ka ng TOKI instead of IKOT, at pagsakay mo ng IKOT instead of TOKI. Ngumingiti ako kapag naiisip ito. Ngayo’y alam mo na kung bakit ako mukhang haggard kapag umuuwi ako galing UP. Naaalala mo pa ba nung sumama ka sa akin before? Dahil kasama kita, biglang ang ganda ng UP at biglang ang dali ng class? Ganun ata katindi ang ng epekto mo sa lahat, sa akin, Babe.

Salamat dahil kahit pagod na pagod ka na sa pag-i-enroll mo sa akin ay nag-sorry ka pa dahil muntikan nang hindi mo ako ma-enroll sa mga gusto kong subjects. Ayokong pumasok ng Sabado, gusto ko magkasama tayo ng buong Sabado. At ito’y mangyayari. Yehey!

Salamat dahil sabi nila iba raw ang pakiramdam ng mayroong kaibigang nag-eenroll sa iyo, ngayo’y naranasan ko na rin ito. Sa wakas. At di lang basta kaibigan.

Babe, miss na miss na kita. Tuloy, di na ako makapag-antay na umuwi.