[It’s always been a dream of mine to write a novel. Here are excerpts from my first attempt at writing one. The narration is from Alyanna, the novel’s key character. Please free to comment…let me know f I should just forget about this dream and just simply write blogs!]
The city’s smog always irritates me. I have come to love the city but I could not understand how people stand these heat, noise and pollution. Everywhere, there are chaos. My breasts even got mashed once, when I was negotiating a busy side street in Quiapo. It was repulsive but I did not even have the chance to find out who the creep was because I was busy trying to guard my belongings from imagined thieves lurking in one of those street corners.
Later, I realized that despite the “dangers” that people around me tried to plant in my brains when I first arrived in Manila, I have always felt so safe in this city of smog and unending chaos. Except for that warm afternoon in Quiapo when a lucky maniac delighted himself with the feel of my right breast, every day in the city seemed like a breeze to me. There was always that joy of staying up late with friends, drowning bottles of San Miguel beer over pulutan of sisig and tokwa’t baboy. I always went home alone, in a cab, and even when half-drunk, I knew I would reach home safely. Call it foolish but I have always believed that God spares people like me. I think I have long ago decided that God protects me from harm because he does not look forward to seeing me in Heaven and be confronted with my questions.
Yes, I believe there is a God. I have stopped attending regular Sunday masses and my last “formal” confession was when I was in my final year in high school. But even with this “unholy history,” I have always thought of God as my really good friend. I cannot explain that even if I try to. There are still so many things I don’t understand about life. Besides, I have just turned 30 and people say life really begins at 40. Or maybe this is just what we mortals tell ourselves when not much is happening in our lives. Not that there isn’t much happening in my life. On the contrary, I always feel that I am in a roller-coaster ride. I would experience joys and blissful existence one day, only to be jolted the next day because my eternally-drunk (or happy?) neighbor thought (again) that my flower pots are extensions of his toilet.
But even with 30 years in my sleeves, I sometimes still feel like the little baby wrapped in the arms of my mother. When I left our town, the most vivid memory that I have of her was when she kissed me tenderly on my forehead, both her hands on my cheeks, almost shivering. I didn’t know whether I could even carry my feet a few meters from there, and leave her, my home for the last 18 years of my life. She looked so fragile yet I felt in her hands the strength of a woman whom I am still trying to know. She shoved me away at that very second that she knew I was already about to cry. I tried to cling to her and make a last-ditch effort to persuade her not to let me go. But in her eyes I saw my future. Like the full moon when I celebrated my 18th birthday (yes, it was another full moon), her eyes reflected of things about to happen in my life. In her eyes I saw my dreams. “
Take care of yourself,” she said, and I know that those few words also meant “I love you. You are everything to me.”
“Yes…but ‘Nay…can I…” I know I didn’t have the strength to cry again and beg her to let me stay for another year. As it was, I was already overstaying. I graduated from high school when I was 16 and we agreed from the very start that I would pursue college in Manila in the next school year. I managed to invent reasons to postpone leaving—that I am not ready to leave my friends, that I like to rest for one year, and finally, that I like to save up for my needs when I am already in the city. She saw through these all but I knew she understood that I wasn’t just too keen about the idea of leaving her.
Before I took the tricycle that would take me to the bus station, I glanced at her and saw her waving sadly from our second-floor windows. I knew she was trying to stop her tears from falling. I also knew that she would silently cry when the tricycle I am taking is already just a speck in the horizon.
This is how much I know her, my mother. But despite this familiarity that I can even predict the timing of her breathing, there was also this part of me who is still trying to get to know her depths. There is still something in her soul that I cannot reach and sometimes, this makes me so sad. It is as if I cannot reach her when she needs me most. That I cannot console her when she is at the bottom of gloom and despair. But did I ever see her really sad? I knew there is always sadness in her movements. But she never appeared as if she needed anyone. And it saddens me because I want to feel that I am her link to her humanity. That I came from her womb and I have the sole right to see her humanity and pull her through any kind of pain or sorrow. Maybe there is always that stubborn child in me. Or perhaps, I long to reunite with her soul because that is the only way I will find myself, too.
This is not a paid blog.