In a Parallel Universe

Your ochre eyes.

It might have been autumn then, the wind was monotonous and the sun was golden.

I walked, passing through the melodramatic colors of the fall letting the charm took its toll.

I looked and basked at the beauty and across me you stared and muttered “epiphany”.

What is it? I asked. Your eyes wrinkled with your smile. Knowing you was no easy task.

 

 

 

 

 

He Held My Hand

Today is Fathers’ Day. While most of the kids would probably post pictures of themselves and their fathers, wide-eyed and ecstatic on that captured moment just to greet them for all the world to see, I opted to post a picture of myself and a lifeless stone. Greeting him would entail my bravery to be shattered and I’m not a fan of my teary self. Instead, I will just tell of how the man held my hand.

He worked overseas when I was a baby. When he came back, I stared at him, long enough to figure out that he was indeed a lanky man with an excited face I could not register. He was looking at me as if I was a long lost treasure. He smiled and slowly walked towards me. I ran. I hid behind my mother’s floral skirt. This man wanted to take me! However, he just laughed and cooed. “Ava, he’s your Tatay,” my mother explained. I won’t move though my brother would re-introduce the man. Then, there he was, slowly reaching my hand eagerly and firmly. I felt it, the unique way of how he warmed my tiny fingers.

Years passed and I’ve gotten to know the man well. My father, my Tatay. He was humorous, sweet, and protective. When I was in nursery, he would peer to my classroom’s door along with the mums of other kids secretly. The teacher was instructing us that particular day to dab some color on a picture of a boy. I scratched the brown crayon hard so that the color would be vivid. “You color the figure by having light strokes on the inside lines,” Ms. Brenda announced. I looked everywhere and found out that my figure looked so dark-skinned compared to other kids. I crumpled the paper and threw it on the floor. I sulked. Then there he was, running towards me, picking up the paper and smiled. The bell rang and we head home. When I was well-rested, he told me he had a surprise for me as he uncrumpled the paper calmly. He held my hand and he taught me to be patient while guiding me in coloring the boy. He told me that if ever I would have mistakes, I should try to correct them rather than leaving the mess behind. That day ended while he turned the boy into a black cat because he wanted to make me laugh.

First day of kindergarten came and I was so eager to talk to him after the school day. “Papu, papu, what’s the spelling of (guy’s name)?” His forehead creased infinitesimally and then he smiled at me. “Why?,” he asked. “He’s the most good-looking guy in my class,” I answered flushing. Then, he held my hand, taught me how to write his name and whispered to me to take it easy. He did not chastise me but rather he told me that I was smarter than the guy and that I should study hard. I did.

Then when I was on my fourth grade, he held my hand again as he handed a box to me. I opened it and I saw a pair of rubber shoes. I was so happy. He pushed a button and wheels came out! Holy smokes, my shoes had wheels! Thanks to him, I was the first one to own a skate shoes on that public school. I was a star!

Time passed as if in a blur! I went to an arts and sciences high school. Nanay left to work abroad so that we could sustain the lifestyle that we had while supporting Kuya in college. He gave up his job and became a full-time Tatay. He cooked food for me and Kuya, washed my blood-stained undies when my periods came, and helped me with my projects. He supported me during my first recital in UP Abelardo Hall while me and my classmates sang alongside the Madrigal Singers. After the concert I ran to him. “Did you hear me? I was the one who hit the highest note! Did you notice?,” I excitedly asked. He reached for my hand, held it firmly like the first time he did and he beamed widely, “Yes, you were the best.” It was all that I wanted to hear. He reminded me later that day that I should always value teamwork.

College came and I told him stories of my nerdy classmates, peculiar profs, and how sleepless I was all the time. He always, always took time to listen. He held my hand during the commencement ceremony and told me he was so proud of me!

When I got admitted in PwC, he was one of the happiest souls! He would always brag about me to his co-workers. Every time I went home late, he would always open the gate for me and asked me if I had eaten already. I saw how happy he was every time he looked at me neatly dressed for the day. One day, I went home and ran to my room. He did not follow me and respected my privacy though I was certain he knew I was crying. For two weeks, he silently waited for me to open up to him. I was having breakfast with him one day and was ashamed to look at him. He reluctantly reached out for my hand, and asked, “How are you bunso?” Tears free flowed from my eyes and told him I failed, I was not promoted. I wanted to hide and told him “I think they don’t like me. They don’t believe in me, Tay.” He squeezed my hand and told me, “Always remember these words, be humble towards authority and always do your best. You are too young to see yourself as a failure. Love your job still. I believe in you. Always.” He had so long waited for me to be promoted and was even more excited than me. He held his sadness at the back of his heart and helped me heal mine.

This particular man held my hand for years. He was larger than life as depicted in this picture. I was his little girl, his bunso and he would always be the lanky man who saw the bigger picture of all things. He could have been 59 years old next week.

Yes, June has been a trying month for me. Fathers’ Day and his birthday rolled into one. It has been a month of sleepless nights and days filled with grief attacks. I always sob silently and sometimes my heart is just so heavy I want to pluck it out of my system. The sadness? It drives me crying on the road, drinking late nights, and heaving hardly. After so many months of avoiding bereavement, I think I won’t be able to turn from it anymore. However, knowing my father, I know he is holding my hand like what he used to do. So right now, maybe, I just want to reach out to young people.

Take your father’s hand and hold it tightly. Thank him for holding yours first. Let your hands be intertwined. Don’t forget how it feels to hold his hand on flesh. That will be you lasting memory.

TO THE MAN WHO WOULDN’T KNOCK ON MY DOOR AGAIN

I want you to know that I am gonna miss you. Badly. There will never be a day that I would not wish that you are again at my side. Without you, my world changed irreversibly.

How can I not be so wishful that everything that just transpired be just but a bad dream? That somehow, after hours of struggle, I would find myself lying in my bed and sighing “Goodness, that was just on my mind!”. Maybe until now, I am trying to kick myself inside, hoping that I will find you on your usual spot when I wake up. Maybe, I am still trying to convince myself, that this is all fiction, that the reality is way better.

I want you to know that I am still gonna wait for you to text me. To tell me that I make you feel young and brand new. To ask me where I am exactly and to take care always. I am still gonna wait for your words of encouragement. I wouldn’t turn my phone off, I promise.

Don’t worry, I will still do countdowns for your birthday. I will tick the days off the calendar as they passed. Magpaplano pa rin ako ng mga ihahanda natin or the way on how we will celebrate your special day. Just promise me you’ll be there, okay? Of course, I will do countdowns for my own birthday like what we used to do. We’ll still talk about the gift na gusto kong ibigay mo sakin and the way the day will go. Just promise me you’ll show up, please?

And in every day, I will still anticipate your wake-up call. I would keep my eyes shut as long as I can waiting for your voice to shout “BUNSO!”.  And like what I always do, I will grumpily answer you and sleep again just for you to open my bedroom’s door and help me get up. Please don’t make me wait long ‘cause I’ll be late. Alam mo naman di lang sa Edsa ang traffic, sa Makati din.

Sa totoo lang, I am gonna miss you asking me every morning kung saan ako pupunta kahit na alam mo na ang sagot just to make a conversation at para lang ata inisin ako. You are usually corny, though at the end of every joke of yours, I always find myself laughing. I’m not sure if I’m gonna miss your jokes but I am gonna miss your face when you try so hard to have a sense of humor.

Sometimes, I do ask myself, how will our first Christmas be without you? Or new year? How about Kuya’s wedding? Or my own wedding? Who would walk me down the aisle? So many questions where the answers will be known when the bridges have been crossed.

I could never again pretend to be asleep on the couch so that you could carry me on my own bed. I could never again complain about my headache so that you could massage me as long as I like. I could never again sit and eat with you while debating on our conflicting political views. I would never again receive gifts with “Hello Kitty” or even a box of “Chuckie” chocolate drink though I am on my 20’s ‘cause you left so early.

You left abruptly. Were you in haste? Will you be going somewhat to a party I don’t know? However, I don’t care about that. Please remember that though you would not knock on my door again, I will keep it open. I will never close the door of my heart for you Tatay.

And if I ever see you again, ipapabasa ko sayo to. For sure kikiligin ka. For sure matutuwa ka.

For now, your bunso will be an Ate muna. You can count on me Tatay. J

What You Never Told

You told me to stay awake.

Though my eyes were practically tired and wandering in stupor, I kept them open. I fought the cloud of darkness that seduced me to the land of the periwinkle unicorns, butterflies and clowns. I befriended the moonlight to pull me out of the reverie. Then I looked at you, never knowing what you see in me. You just smiled.

You told me to hold you.

Though the weight of the day had not yet left my shoulders, I mustered all my strength. I gave you my warmth under the sky blanketed with comets, stars, and multiple spectrum of the unknown. The spaces between your fingers had been the home of mine. I held you against the rustling wind, the scalding sun, and the wintry night that opposes it. I held you until you felt the earth was your whole universe and nothing goes beyond it.

You told me to choose you.

Through the colliding worlds that surround us, I kept my eye on you. I imprinted myself with the lust for your words. I’ve trained my eyes to look at everyone else’s eyes seeing your gaze that pierces the walls I’ve built.

But in all these things, you never told me the very thing I have so long waited to hear. I haven’t heard these things in a while that even I forget them.

You never told me to stay because you wanted me to. The truth was, you just always needed me.

You never told me to hold you because its the warmth that you want to live with. Sadly, you just seem to be cold with loneliness.

You never told me I’ve got a choice. You believed you are a goddamn king to be exalted.

And yes, you never told me you loved me. But what hurt the most was, I know it was deliberately your choice not to utter these words, because you never fucking did.

A Girl in a Woman’s Heart

She was a girl with high hopes and aspirations. She was a dreamer and a doer. She was not typical, she outgrew all the kids’ stuff fast enough to even overuse them like others did. She loved books and stories that brought her to fantasies some did not know existed. She enjoyed playing with fauns, talking with beavers, fighting-out dragons, befriending centaurs, and hiding from evil stepmothers. She did not play often with kids on the street for she was having the best time of her life inside the pages of her beloved authors.

Now, she is a woman with even higher hopes and aspirations, but she also knows all the hurdles she has to go through to grasp them. She is different from others, she missed playing with all the dolls, clays, jackstones, and dollhouses that will bring her to being a kid once again- no surprising enigmas, no heavy responsibilities. She still loves books and stories that bring her to fantasies that she is certain do not exist. She even develops her own fantasies now but they are better because they are set on realities, on stones that are tangible and visible. She has her fantasies, that no young mind can utter, and it is normal because she knows it is. She still finds joy playing with fauns, talking with beavers especially when they tell her of her happy memories when she was little and how proud they are for what she has become today, fighting-out dragons who just know how to monopolize society, befriending centaurs, and standing up against evil stepmothers of her country who look down on their race like they are dirts on their own lands. She now loves going out with her friends while lazing around the street, enjoying simple conversations up to acts of insanity, and running along with them under the sun and rain- she knows they are her treasures. She does not let go of her love for papers and words, for when everyone else is asleep at night, she still visits their stories under the beam of the moon, inside the blanket of the cold breeze- but along with adventures of heroes, she also discovers the in and out of love of those lovers she will never ever meet in flesh. She is on her journey to finding out her own Prince Charming, her own Ken, her Legolas- she will find him but better yet, he will find her.

There Will Be Mornings

There will be mornings when you will be blinded by the sun rays that peak through your curtains,

You’ll realize you don’t want to wake up yet, for the reality is absurd.

You’ve slept through guilt, stress, and thousand restraints,

But they say that the day is gonna get better, at least that’s what you heard.

To the Recent Guy

I would admit that I am kind of missing the attention now. But this would not change the fact that I did the right thing. I just protected myself. But I would like you to know that I am sorry. Sorry for not giving much chance on you. There were times that I’ve led you on, yes. Believe me,I regretted them so. I just couldn’t be upfront, and to tell you frankly, I really loved the way you seemed to care.

There were times that I would like to let my guard down and just let things flow. But just as I was considering myself tough, I couldn’t be vulnerable. Maybe, I was not yet ready to open myself up to someone. For 22 years, I have reserved my heart and it’s hard for me to just give it away.

Your sweetness, in fact tickled me. To be fair, you were one of the few people who I allowed to be like that to me. But always, at the end of the day, if we were not meant to be, it would not work. I am sorry for not returning your care and for being consistently cold. I am just protecting myself.

Above all, sorry for not loving you. I could not force it that was why I never once indicated it. I hope that you would find the right one for you. Maybe, I came into your life so that you would be able to know how lucky you could be when the right one comes. Please don’t be lonely. And for once, let me admit, I’ve had this certain liking for you, and I am really missing everything now. But I knew then that if I could let you go this easily, it could mean that you were really not the one for me.

-A