Something from last year

From the web, I found this photo taken exactly a year ago when I left Hanoi. (Front) Duong, Le, Co Doanh (Le’s mom and my second mother in Hanoi), Chau. (Back) Son, JP, and me. I can’t believe it has been a year ago.

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A letter to John

Dear John,

You’re sick again? Why have you been taking your health for granted these days? Remember you’re alone in this foreign country and in the event that you become seriously ill, nobody will take care of you. It’s not as if you’re living with your mom and that there’ll be somebody who will replace the wet towel to quell your fever.

You do not eat well. You do not anymore enjoy eating the food that you used to like. I remember you told me that you could eat nem in every meal for the rest of your life, but now you eat for the sake of completing a boring task.

I see you walking everyday going to the bus stop, what’s the reason for that blank stare? I’m not so used seeing you looking expressionless. Sadness is better than not feeling anything. And I noticed that you also put aside writing these days. Why? You told me last time you’ll go crazy if you stop writing. Have you gone crazy?

I attended one of your classes. You seemed to be doing well, in fact very well, but why is it that you seemed too distant from your students. Why do you appear too mechanical, obligated? Has passion escaped you?

These thoughts may rather be random, but I know they reflect the kind of randomness that describes your mind this time. You’ve never had a decent sleep for several nights. You eat nothing but a choice between cheese burger or bolgogi burger in the nearest fast food chain store. You used to detest fast food, but why all of a sudden you eat nothing but these greasy junk.

We may never have had a chance to converse these past few days because of your self-inflicted preoccupation with so many unnecessary things. I do not understand why you have to do part-time when the grant you received from your scholarship is more than enough to pay all your expenses? I know you want nothing but to kill off boredom, but by doing so you also put in peril your health and one of the few non-negotiables in your life-writing. The first few chapters in your novels are waiting for you. The rest remain unwritten. Too sad, when will your characters develop into something mature?

You’ve changed a lot, John, in fact, I cannot anymore recognize. You’ve become a totally different person that when you happen see face to face your old self, it’ll never know you. It’ll never understand why this sudden change made you something different yet unchanged. I apologize for the cryptic language. But I know you understand this.

Good night.
Your self

p.s. Please take your medicine every four hours. Get well soon. Have enough rest.

A love letter

Sa pinakamamahal ko (sa bilog nga world),

Alam kong matatawa ka habang binabasa mo ang sulat ko. Matagal-tagal na ring hindi ako nakakasulat sa Filipino. Ang sarap ng pakiramdam habang sinusulat ko ito sapagkat alam kong bawat salitang bumubuo sa liham na ito ay ang buod ng aking kaluluwa, walang bahid ng pagpapanggap–tulad ng pagmamahal ko para sa iyo.

Kamusta na?

Salamat sa palaging pagpaparamdam sa akin na mahal mo ako. Nasasabik ako sa iyo. Nagdadalawang isip pa ako kung gagamitin ko ang salitang “nasasabik” dahil lubhang malalim ang kahulugan ng salita, matayog ang nilalaman. Anupaman, hayaan mong sabihin kong nasasabik ako sa pinakamamahal ko: sa iyo.

Dalawang buwan na tayong magkalayo, dalawang buwan na nating hindi nahahawakan ang mga kamay ng isa’t isa. Ang hirap.

Kaninang umaga, habang sakay ako ng aking pulang bisekleta papuntang eskwela naisip kong wala na sigurong sasarap pa sa pakiramdam na sakay tayo ng bisekleta ko papunta sa kung saan man natin gustong pumunta, oo, kahit sa buwan pa. Hindi ako mapapagod sa pagpedal hanggang matakasan nating ang gravitational pull ng mundo at makalipad tayo. Hahayaan kong ikaw ang pipili ng planetang pupuntahan natin. Kahit na gustung-gusto kong pumunta sa Saturn at magpagulong-gulong sa mga rings nito sasama pa rin ako sa iyo papuntang Venus dahil alam kong ito ang paborito mong planeta.

Alam mo, walang McDonald’s dito, pero hindi ako nababahala dahil may KFC. Naaalala ko pa ang unang date natin sa KFC. Wala nang sasarap pa sa French fries, orange chicken at hamburger at ang gravy na paborito mo. Natikman ko na ang specialty of the house ng Hilton, Metropole, at Intercon, pero babalik-balikan ko pa rin ang pamilyar na KFC at ang alaala ng ating unang pagkikita.

Higit isang taon na tayo. Di ako makapaniwala na tatagal tayo at tatawanan na lamang natin ang pinagdaanang pagsubok. Marami akong nagawang pagkakamali at maka-ilang beses mo akong pinatawad. Salamat at hindi natin binibilang ang mga pagkakamaling nagawa ng isa’t isa.

Hindi ko alam kung bakit naisipan kong sumulat sa iyo. Naisip lang kitang bigla.

Siguro, kahit magsawa na ang mundo sa mga sinusulat ko, alam kong sa isang bahagi nito sa isa sa mga isla sa Pacific Ocean ay may isang taong patuloy na magbabasa sa mga sanaysay ko, mga tula, daing, at mga ideyang nabuo sa isipan ko.

Gaya ng anumang bagay, tayo’y nabubuhay na walang kasiguruhan. Nakakatakot dahil maaaring bukas ay hindi na ako makapagsusulat. Subalit alam kong patuloy akong magmamahal.

Mananatiling sa iyo,

John

p.s.

Huwag kang magkakasakit.