Archive for September, 2008

The Two Deaths of a Business Woman.
September 16, 2008

 

The Two Deaths of a Business Woman.

By Pol Arellano, 2007

I saw a woman in town today. She parked her bicycle in front of a shabby-chic café. On her bicycle was an attached basket. On the attached basket there was a box. She took the box out of the basket and sat on one of the tables outside the café. Her table was next to a couple kissing passionately.

A waitress approached her. The waitress had bangs of gold. The rest of her hair is shaved. She wore an apron that smelled like bacon, sweat and coffee. She smiled automatically at the woman like she knew her forever.

You look tired, dear. Nothin’ like a cup of tea to calm the wires and odds.

Yes, a cup of tea would be lovely.

The woman thought of how she hated tea. She thought of its green, dried leaves and she thought of how much she loathed green, dried leaves. She thought of how she wanted to drink a Bloody freakin’ Mary instead. Yet she held her smile even after the almost bald woman called her order up and attended to the famished-looking obese man who came in with an oversized umbrella.

I saw her. She held her box like it was an infant. She sat primly and stared at nothing.

The waitress came staggering through the crowded aisle of the café. The sun shone on her apron and she looked almost ethereal with her gold bangs and sweaty nose. She held a large tray, in it were a family of five’s orders, complete with a vegetarian pizza for the elder daughter and a meatball pasta for their sweet brat. She held the woman’s cup of tea on a smaller tray in her other hand. The obese man called her attention and as she turned around and miscalculated her step, she knocked-over a salt shaker. Miraculously, the food and tea were spared. She really must have been ethereal.

She apologized profusely to the lad. The lad smiled and said,

Hey, it’s nothing. It’s supposed to bring me luck, right?

That, it’ll do, sir.

She placed the tea in front of the woman. The woman stared at her cup of tea and requested for a small amount of milk. A child was throwing a tantrum and was yelling,

BUT YOU PROMISED! YOU PROMISED WE’LL SKATE TODAY! YOU NEVER KEEP YOUR PROMISES!

The waitress smiled her automatic smile and nodded. She turned her back on the woman to get a cupful of milk. The lad placed his hand in his right pocket and took out the small box. It looked as if he was keeping it in his socks drawer for several months now. He kept it under the table, of course. The café was still too damn noisy.

The woman thought of how milk disagreed with her system. How it made her want to throw up and pass gass and piss all at the same time.

The lady who was with the lad had roses for lips. She was all a-bloom, almost like she was springtime herself. She looks ready to burst with repressed joy. She stroked her trim tummy and laughed at the lad’s joke.

The vegetarian daughter talked about how much she liked the new boy in town because he wears Save the Kangaroos shirts to school. The sweet brat talked about getting a new hamster for his pet collection.

The wife talked about a luncheon she’s going to host for the senior citizens in their block.

The husband said nothing and ate his steak with gusto.

The woman sat there, the cup of milk now in front of her.

She thought of how much she hated milk and tea stirred together.

The obese man asked the waitress for another slice of their wonderful cake. He asked her not to skimp on the whipped cream too.

The woman stared at the building across the café. It was where she spent 14 of her precious hours in. She literally slaved there.

She talked. She sat. She nodded. She made coffee. She wrote. She read. She ran errands. She received paychecks. She typed. She got courted. She lost her positions. She dated. She gained new positions. She did this for twelve years.

The lad held the lady’s hand in his. She stared at her eyes and told her she looked radiant. The lady flushed and told him that he was a royal kiss-ass.

The waitress cleared the tantrum-thrower’s vomit. The father, mobile phone in hand, promised to give the waitress a good tip. The waitress thought the father looked cute.

The woman stirred her cup of tea with milk. She stared at the building in front of her.

She thought of how much she loathed tea and milk. She thought of how much she loathed the building in front of her.

She wasted twelve years there. She lost many things in that building.

She lost her father. She lost her beauty. She lost her mother’s pearl earrings. She lost her virginity. She lost her sex appeal. She lost her freedom. She lost her husband. She lost her dreams. She lost her dignity. She lost her fingernails on her husband’s paramour’s head. She lost her car. She lost her job. She lost custody. She lost her family.

The vegetarian daughter asked the waitress if she knew Bjork. The waitress nodded enthusiastically. The daughter said the waitress looked so much like Bjork. The sweet brat asked for a cup of water. If they had goldfish there, he added, just place it in the glass of water. The mother laughed. The father smiled in spite of himself.

The lady excused herself to go to the washroom. The lad smiled. He rehearsed the lines in his head over and over. He wanted it to be perfect after all.

The woman drank her tea with milk. She felt calm.

She thought of buying a box of prepared tea bags. Then she laughed her small laugh.

She opened her box.

The lad held the small box in his pocket. She looked at the woman. The lines in his head vanished. He held the small box in his pocket for what seemed like an eternity. He thought of how much he loved the lady. The lady in the washroom. How much he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

He thought of the salt on his shirt.

He thought of how a buttload of shit it was to believe that it was supposed to bring him luck.

The woman took the pin out.

There was a loud noise. In a fraction of a second, the noise seemed to be in harmony with the blinding light. In that perfect frame of time, everyone in the café venerated the feeling of shock and animosity. They swam in fiction-like fear and wallowed in it; they did that for there was a lack of place to find solace.

 

I felt as if my chest exploded with the blast.

I felt correctly.

This is exactly how I felt a decade ago.

 

Ang Dakilang Wala
September 7, 2008

Ni Pol Arellano

Nung mga bata kami, may mga pangarap kami.

Si Bajoy, yung tatlo ang baba, gustong maging engineer. Gagawa siya ng mga gusali. Mga tulay. Mga bahay ng artista. Lalo na sa Alabang.

Si Mila, yung laging nakabukaka, gustong maging doktor. Gagamot siya ng matatanda, mga bata. Mga buntis, mga sanggol. Mga mahihirap at mayayaman.

Ako, gusto kong maging wala.

Sa totoo lang, ako ang may pinakamahirap na maabot na pangarap. Paano, alam kong sobrang galing ko. Ang galing kong kumanta, magsayaw, magsalita, mag-math, magtikol, manligaw, magpaiyak ng babae,  magpatili ng babae, magpasaya ng babae, at magpasaya (kindat, kindat) ng babae.  Sa lahat ng talento ko, mahirap maging wala. Kumbaga destined for greatness ako e. Kaya sigurado akong hindi ako magiging wala. Kaya yun ang pangarap ko, kasi alam kong ang pangarap, lalo na sa Pilipinas, mahirap abutin. At yun lang ang bagay na naiisip kong hindi ko maaabot. Maging wala.

Kasi naman ang galing kong magdrowing. Dati lagi akong pinapagdrowing ng titser namin. Sasabihin niya,  “Pepe, magdrowing ka nga ng batang naglalaro. Ayan, ang ganda! O tapos magdrowing ka naman ng mag-asawang kumakaway. Oo, ganyan nga! Tapos lagyan mo ng magandang bahay sa likod. Sige, pati puno. Ay, aso din. Hm, dagdagan mo pa. Mga labingisa. Ayan, ayan! O sige lagyan mo ng tangke. Sa gilid lagyan mo naman ng astronaut. Lagyan mo na rin ng Playboy Bunnies sa taas, hindi, hindi, kunwari nakasabit sila sa buwan. Si Donald Trump gawin mong mas matangkad. Oo, pati si Oprah gawin mong mas maputi ng konti. Konti lang, baka maiba na masyado. Ayan, ayan! Ang galing mo Pepe!” Lagi akong pinapagdrowing. Puring-puri ako lagi e. Ang galing ko kasi maghalo ng mga kulay. Sinasabi ko sa’yo, kapag nakakita ka ng gawa ko maluluha ka e. Ganon ako kagaling.

Nabanggit ko na bang captain ako ng Basketball, Softball, Volleyball, Baseball, Swimming, Polo, Chess, Bowling, Table Tennis, Rollerblading, Ice Skating, Quiditch, Hangaroo, Diner Dash, Counter Strike at Dama teams sa school? Pwes ako lahat yan. Kapag may laro ako, yung mga babae sa gilid, inaabangan yung pagpapawis ko. Binobote nila tapos binebenta nila sa Quiapo. Katabi nung mga pamparegla pati mga bloke ng tawas. Nakakagaling daw yung pawis ko e. Parang magic oil ng El Shaddai. Kaya lang mas mabango ng di hamak yung pawis ko. Pati mas efektiv.

Galing ko din magsalita. Lagi akong panalo sa mga debate sa school. Edi ipapakilala na ako ng host. Tilian yung mga tao, grabe. May mga naghahagis pa ng panty. Minsan may brip, pero minsan lang yun. Tapos ipapakilala yung kalaban ko. Ang daming nagbu-boo. Para mong nakita yung pumatay kay Bambi na biglang pumasok sa meeting ng PETA e. Ganong-ganon. Alam na ni gago na wala siyang binatbat e.  Tapos pinagbigyan siya, pinauna siya ng moderator matapos sabihin ang tapik – Tingin mo ba’y tama ang same sex marriage o hindi? Sinabi niyang kasalanan ang same-sex marriage. Sinabi niyang hindi yun Biblikal. Sinabi niyang hindi ginawa ang babae para sa babae, at ang lalake para sa lalake. Wala daw ito sa naturalesa. Madami siyang sinabing batayan: mga science journals, mga philosophies. Iba’t iba talaga. Madami siyang pinakitang patunay sa mga sinasabi niya. Madaming tao ang tumutulo na ang laway at may mga naglalako na ng mani sa gitna. Tinawag na ng commentator ang pangalan ko at biglang nagising ang lahat! Slow motion akong naglakad papunta sa stage at mga labinlimang minutong naghintay na humupa ang palakpakan at hiyawan at ang wave na ginawa ng mga manonood. Handa na ang lahat sa matindi kong istilo ng pagsagot sa kalaban ko. Ito na ang hinintay nila ng matagal. Sino ba naman ako para biguin sila? Gwapong-gwapo kong sinabing “E sa okay lang sakin e, paki mo?” NAGSITAYUAN yung mga tao e! Sobrang bilib sila sa katalinuhan ko nun. Nakakabingi yung palakpakan pati hiyawan! Pahiya yung kalaban ko! Akala mo nanalo yung Ginebra sa ingay e. Akala mo nanalo si Erap ulit e.

Sa sobrang galing ko, pati mga kaaway ko napabilib.

Ganon ako kagaling. Magaling ako sa lahat ng bagay. Hindi mo pa naiisip, alam ko nang magaling ako dun sa bagay na iisipin mo pa lang. Galing no?

Ngayon matatanda na kami nila Bajoy at Mila.

Si Bajoy, wala na yung tatlong baba. Pumayat na si gago. Engineer na siya. Siya yung gumawa ng bagong Cultural Center sa maynila. Sobrang ganda nung gusaling yun,walang binatbat yung luma. Binisita yun ni Angelina at ni Brad Pitt nung nakaraang buwan. Tapos may inampon silang bente-siyeteng mga batang kalsada nung napadaan sila sa Ermita. Yung kalsadang dinaaanan nila, inayos ni Bajoy. Pinakinis. Ginawang bago.

Si Mila,  mahilig pa rin bumukaka. Pero doktora na siya. Naka-assign siya sa Benguet. Doon siya naggagamot ng libre sa mga matatanda na kabilang sa mga tribo. Kailangan niyang bumukaka dun. Kapag tumatalon siya sa pagitan ng mga lawa at umaakyat ng bundok, kailangan niyang bumukaka.

Ako, ito, magaling pa rin.

Hindi ko nga lang maikwento sa Amerikanong kausap ko kung gaano ako kagaling.

Ang importante lang sa kanya e yung maling bill na dumating sa kanya kanina, dahil hindi naman daw siya nagsubscribe sa pay-per-view nung nakaraang linggo.

Magaling pa rin ako.

At mukhang dahil sa sobrang galing ko, nagawa ko yung inisip kong hindi ko magagawa.

Tulad nila Bajoy at Ana, natupad ko ang pangarap ko.

Ako ngayon ay isang dakilang wala.