Thursday, March 16, 2006


My greatest nightmare is to face a blank computer screen, my brain desiring so much to write something, but not finding the right words to articulate my thoughts. That’s exactly what has been happening to me lately. Like a bodybuilder whose muscles have bred ennui because of the same boring routine, I sit here, deliriously mad with ideas, not knowing how to etch them on my computer. Sure, I’ve had times when I simply rambled on aimlessly. But this time, it’s different. The mind yearns for intercourse, for rhythmic undulations of quivering bodies, for cautious explorations of crevices marinated in sweat, saliva, and other body fluids, and finally, for an ecstatic release, to squirt its creamy load in liberation, feeling the sudden mad rush of guilt, passion, love, pain, and ambivalence all shooting rapidly up the temples, into the dendrites, around the cranium, through a labyrinth of neurons, and then bursting out of the ears like dislodged ear wax. How can one contain something like this? How does one manage to live while harboring a raging monster inside, shackled, as it were, by the chains of inarticulateness? Would that my mind be as prolific as my butt which does not need any provocation to fart out its sentiments for the whole world to get a whiff of.

Time can be as tricky as a philandering lover. One moment, it makes you feel that you own your faculties, the next moment, it slams you with the realization that you are nothing but a pulpy blob, shaking stupidly like a slice of jello. Or it might fool you into believing that you have something to say, when in fact you are merely brewing mush, some ill-conceived, half-baked, better-left-unsaid ideas that you thought once glimmered with ingenuity. What is ingenuity, after all, but a rehashed idea of another repackaged to look more enticing to modern sensibilities? What can be said that has never been said before? Ideas are only exhumed from the bowels of putrefaction. With the mass of intellectual protons already swimming about in the air, it is too presumptuous to think that I can still contribute anything, that my unarticulated thoughts would push humanity onwards, heal our society, and guarantee world peace, I thank you. Those idiotic beauty queens wishing for world peace may have something more valuable to say. At least, they don’t mask their thoughts with pretentious language. That’s just that. No frills. No confusing rhetoric. No winding locutions. No blogs to eat up precious bandwidth. No ideas, just borrowed spiels from those who wore the crown before them. No shackled monsters. No thoughts. No gods. No empty computer screens to fill with nonsense. Just a tabula rasa.



Like this nightmare.


Friday, March 03, 2006

suicidal flies and armpit hair

One scorching afternoon, when the vacuous air goaded drunk flies to fly right onto window panes to die, I took out my camera and started clicking away at every dusty corner of my room at the boarding house. I'm leaving it this coming April, after a year of enduring harsh sunlight dilating through its large windows everyday. I left my parents' ancestral house roughly two years ago, the very same night I had a quarrel with my brother who was ten years my senior. I raised hell over not finding my old books in their shelf. My dear brother said that he took the liberty of transferring all of them to my sister's house, which is thrice as big as our place, because he needed shelf space for some shit.

I was furious, of course. Books are my only treasures. Basic courtesy dictates that you, at least, inform the owner before you decide to move his stuff somewhere else like exiled political prisoners. Apparently, courtesy was (and still is) something my loving brother does not have much of.

That night ended with me spewing some cusswords and he charging into my room and holding me by the neck, demanding that I repeat the cusswords again in front of our mother (what the hell for? The cusswords were intended for him, not for my mother). If my mother hadn't intervened, we would've ended on the floor, punching and kicking each other. Pretty childish stuff, I know. But the problem between him and me springs from something deeper, something older. It dates back to the days when I was still a kid and he, a bully of a brother. Never mess up with your younger brother or he'll be scarred for life.

That same night, my parents brought me to our other house to spend the night there. A week after, I moved out and found a dormitory near my office. A year after that, I moved in to this boarding house. I've never slept in our ancestral house since then.

But this is not about our house, my brother, or my past hurts. I won't bore you with such shit. This is about the afternoon the drunk flies died on the window panes while I maniacally clicked on my camera. This boarding house stands in the kidney of gloomy Manila, along one of the smaller arteries that branch off from Taft Avenue. In this city where space is a luxury only the very rich can afford, this house's yard is immense. It nurtures four ancient mango trees that regularly shed dry leaves to cover the ground underneath. Every morning, an elderly woman comes out from one of the brown houses to sweep off the leaves.

The house itself, an old, crumbling, wood and stone structure typical of the architectural style of the seventies, is just one of the four identical houses in this yawning yard. Once you enter the gate, you'd feel like you've been thrown a few years back. Its suburban appeal resurrects your grand aunt's idyllic afternoon chats over suman (rice cake) and coconut juice. Too rustic and laid back for someone like me who was born and raised with the fragrance of carbon monoxide clinging on my skin. This place will make you forget that monstrous, smog-choked Taft Avenue lies just a block away.

The reception area of this boarding house is a spartan affair. The cushions reek of cat dung but the red floor is always gleaming, thanks to the ministrations of the maid who sleeps in a cupboard under the stairs (Harry Potter is not the only one who does that, mind you). This is where most of my housemates congregate to watch silly TV shows, especially the girls, who stay glued to the boob tube from sun up till sundown. When they get tired of watching TV, they stand by the front door and shamelessly pluck their armpit hairs with tweezers. I sometimes wonder what the heck did they need to rent a room for when it's so much more comfortable to be a couch potato or pluck one's armpit hair at home (not that I do that).

My room is on the second floor. It's a cool haven at night and a veritable furnace during the day. Next to it is the master's bedroom where our landlord stays with a friend who must've been his fraternity mate in college. Whenever my landlord comes home with a woman, the poor friend sleeps on the floor of the reception area, prey to various crawling and flying insects which are at their naughtiest in the dead of night.

From my window, I have a commanding view of the backyard where my housemates hang their shirts and undies to dry. Just across this yard is a Masonic temple which has intrigued me for so long. Having read books about the origin of Freemansonry, I am naturally curious as to what exactly goes on in that temple, something I wouldn't know unless I become a member. And that doesn't sound too appealing to me.

On Sunday mornings, I hear the twangy band music of an evangelical Christian church just across Taft. Since I usually wake up with a terrible hangover every Sunday, I mistake it as club music and sway mildly to its rhythm. When I start hearing phrases like “Praise Jesus” or “Glory be to God on high,” I get back to my senses and realize the ridiculousness of what I'm doing. And so I get back to bed and sleep three more hours to sober myself up.

Lest you think that all the music in this boarding house only comes from the weirdos next door, let me tell you that we also have some great sounds playing downstairs. During rare moments when the television is off (the girls are in their armpit-hair-plucking sessions, no doubt), the maid comes out of her cupboard under the stairs and plays her small transistor radio full blast. Her impeccable musical taste favors intellectually stimulating novelty songs that extol the virtues of jumbo hotdogs and pasta that goes up and down (god, are they still playing that?). She plays it so loud it would shame a jackhammer. I don't know if it's mere coincidence but she normally plays her radio while I'm in the bathroom. Oh, you can never know how heavenly the feeling is. The music actually aids peristalsis. Defecation has never been that divine.

Too bad I've got to leave this April. My new office is too far now. It's more practical to live at my parents' house. Maybe I would move out again soon. I don't know. I have no definite plans yet. It might be hard to find another place like this one—old, crumbling, and full of suicidal flies who die on windowpanes. Newer houses or apartment buildings lack character, fire, and women who pluck armpit hairs by the front door. But then, who knows? This world is more colorful than we think.

Labels: ,