Wednesday, March 02, 2005

the morning i cursed myself

You curse your cell phone for having alarmed incessantly since 8:30 in the morning. Then you remember you have set the alarm yourself the night before. You curse yourself instead. You clamber out of bed; your body still aching for two more hours of sleep.

You undress, wrap a towel around your waist, and get your plastic basket of toiletries, which one of your roommates used again last night. That thick-hided asshole!

You lousily tread down the stairs toward one of the bathrooms, hoping that nobody left his shit unflushed again. You enter a bathroom, close the door, and survey the smudged tiles to see if any of those blasted earthworms have inched out of their hellhole down under.

You take a shower, shivering as the cold water trickles down your bare body. You grimace as the water whacks you awake. You curse your landlady for not having installed water heater. I’m late, you realize. But still, you take your sweet time scrubbing yourself with loofah soaked in cheap shower gel. You dream of what you will do with your time when your boss finally suspends you due to tardiness. Piñacolada on a white-sand beach? Mediterranean luxury cruise? Swedish massage in an expensive spa? Scuba-diving? Sky-diving?

How about this—editing badly-written articles in your comfy little blue cubicle? What a bummer. You suddenly sympathize with desk editors. You forgive their huge capacity for acerbity. They do have a reason to be nasty.

You remember the loads of work that await you at the office. You curse your workload. You think of calling in sick. Naah, that won’t work. You vainly wish for a typhoon in March so work will be suspended. Silly idea. You think of calling the office guard to tip him off of a bomb planted in your floor. Lacks originality.
Finding no excuse to be absent, you reluctantly dress up. The aircon drones in accompaniment to the soft snoring of your roommates who are still asleep. You curse the aircon. You curse your roommates.

You trudge clumsily on the road, imagining that you are walking again along Champs-Elysées, pretending that your sweaty skin is being kissed again by Paris’ frosty air. You turn around the corner and see the Notre Dame gleaming with its recently restored façade. You hear a violin wailing Schubert’s “Serenade” and you hum along with it. Another sharp turn and you are in front of the massive Madeleine. Just down the street would be the wine store whose Beaujolais you love so much. You turn right but, somehow, you end up promenading along the Seine, smelling the chilly fragrance of fall flowers. You turn around another corner and the majesty of St. Peter’s Square opens up before you, with hundreds of dumb-looking tourists and senile Italian priests milling about. The pope is somewhere in there, you assume, snoring in his sick bed. You walk a few steps and you are stunned by the enormity of the Colosseo. For a while, you gaze and wonder how those ancient guys built the whole structure. You turn another corner and you bump against a stranger.

“Tignan mo dinadaanan mo, gago!”

And good old Pedro Gil comes blooming in front of you. You sigh. Darn, it’s past ten already. You’re late. You curse Pedro Gil.

You continue walking toward Mabini, occasionally meeting Caucasian tourists with whores clinging on their large, hairy arms. You glance at slimy children sleeping on the gutter, their shirts pulled up to reveal bloated tummies and grimy navels. You smell the stench of brine and garbage borne by the sticky air. Why does Manila Bay always make its presence felt, you wonder. Why indeed?

You see a bent, wrinkled old woman sitting on the gutter with her bony arm outstretched toward you. Alms. You feel ashamed that you have no food to give her. Money won’t do, you think. It has to be food. It has to be food. You feel bad about her plight. You feel bad about yourself. You remember your own mother. What if it were her down there, begging for a few coins? What if every beggar along Pedro Gil were related to you? What would you have done? Would your spare change not suffice? It has to be food?

You reach Mabini. Jeeps zoom past you, leaving heavy fumes in their wake. You cover your nose with a hanky. Why does Manila make its presence felt all the time? Because you are in Manila, not in glittery Paris or historic Rome.

You hail a jeep and quietly board it.

You curse yourself.


At 6:10 PM, Blogger lisa said...

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At 7:05 PM, Blogger weng said...

finally! a breather in my dull afternoon. i so love this piece, made me go back memory lane of my good-old dorm life. and then france... one day we should sit down over beaujolais for you to recount what i have terribly missed.

seriously, you don't have to always scamper for dear life to be a good public servant, right?!?! it's a wonder they haven't kicked me out of my comfy office, yet. =D

At 1:32 PM, Blogger slim whale said...

A chat over glasses of Beaujolais (or vodka)? I’d love that. I’ve always been inviting you but you’re not showing up.

They’d have to be nuts to kick you out of the office.


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