My education. I took up Music again this late because I do not want to be very similar to him. I am not even sure what I am preparing for any longer. I make sure that the house is always clean. My books without clutter, lined up majestic, ready for a visit from him. The sparse earth raked before dusk when it is not too hot for me to go down to the garden. Always being certain of how when I take a look behind me, another time before I retire to my room, there is a taller bud from the juanita pots,a white bud lowering itself that it may gather a small pink rose towards a tender entwinement. Something I would like to point out to you should you ever remember to
visit this country which you haven’t been to, in years. I close my eyes for awhile and think of what to say to you then. Will it be, " And you have come here to do what exactly? " , a query to which you might answer, " Nothing much really. Another stupid engagement that makes me weary of everything else that is to follow from it. But mostly, for this and for your spirited ways that I have yet to appreciate more. So I can miss your ways and so I can always, always admit less to my missing your ways." I can add that you will abruptly cease to speak, your enduring youth exposed, by a tag like this, " Yes, just this and you. To keep a promise never stated as clear yet implied, with that same punctuation of uncertainty, you are used to?" And then I will see you smile the way that you smile. A half laughing smile that means to say that it is the end of anything that you could still say. I am aware that I should not wonder about what you could still say. You’ve smiled to gesture, " Yes. Enough, ya? Happy, but please, this must be enough. " I will understand this, because I can.
Again I remember this line, " Anything can happen, it’s best to be prepared." A line from a book authored by someone he does not like. A number of days back, I asked, " What best to be prepared for?" I thought of, " Be prepared for nothing."
No sudden call from NAIA that you are standing under KLMNOP and you are finally here. No day where I wait in front of passenger arrivals looking polished in light blue cotton and silver ruffled silk, black heeled pumps, the fox tail round my collar that I always have on whenever we meet. Polished,coiffed and beautiful, that you will not know what else to do but to look at me and only me, for awhile; as I load your baggage into the trunk of my car. You’ll tell me that you are old but that I am still beautiful. And I will have a ready reparte’. Darling, I am old too. If I say it swiftly enough, you will let my blunder pass. My darling, my love, my dearest dearest…do these words not fit my lips at all, to say? Do they not belong to my face? How much longer before you realize that I am a woman, after all, and not a girl. Our friendship is a deep friendship. It is an old friendship. My hatred turned into such a love for you, and it is good to have been the woman in this friendship.
No mid- afternoon walk by the shore where dense clusters of baobabs and palm trees barricade another village beyond. I am pregnant and you’ve dressed me like a nonya and you are happy. And we are only married in the eyes of our respective gods. There is no ring on my daliring singsingan, but there is an arm around my huge waist and the voice that says, " Come away now, dear. It is cold." is your voice.
No promise made to my god that you will believe that he exists if he give me more time when I give birth, this is bound to happen, because of my weak heart and narrow hips not fit for natural childbirth, like my mother’s hips. No furtive prayer that he needs me and we need to raise our little girl together. No time to whisper to you, "Do not hate our daughter if there is nothing else that can be done." No pause for you to apologize that we did not have enough money to have the doctors cut into my belly instead of wretched wails and curses and regrets, that I should not have been the one to give you your child, if it was going to be this way.
No laughter beforehand at the doctors when he tells us that I am carryin twins, because, yes, ‘ My god.’ it runs in my family. This could also happen instead of just a little girl for us.
No static over the telephone lines, because of all days, you choose to love the telephone and ask me long distance to go to where you are and to stay indefinitely.
No mornings of a family of 3 or a family of four, my husband – only in the eyes of our respective gods – in newly dad pajamas that match the ones on our little CLEARED POST boy, both rubbing eyes, and waiting for me to finish in the kitchen with the fried rice and smoked fish. And if we have our little girl CLEARED POST there too, she’s still sleeping and sitting on your lap. And not even the smell of garlic can wake her.
It is best for me to prepare for nothing. Because nothing is still something. It is a word. A word is something. Words make the palette for most prayers of writers.
True once on paper, for a lifetime to remind the author that not everything true is real. A real preparation for nothing, more than what can never be true.
I took up Music again, this late, because there is something to affirm. That I am not ordinary. That it is always an honor for anyone to have my love. And that it is an insult to question from where this love for you has come from. And insult to ask me, " What? What have I done? Why do you love me? What have I done?"
Does one have to do something in order to be loved?
So many years between us, and yet, I have the better question. Yet, I am not offended. After all, you are my only last.
Does one have to do something in order to be loved?
What culture do I have in me, as a Filipina, when
a friend of yours told Pia Hontiveros that he does not think that many people are aware of our own writers.
What culture do I have in me, that you can be in awe of? If I am this patient about you, it is only because Filipinos endured hundreds of years under the Spaniards
before thinking to themselves, " Enough? Maybe enough." So if our trains are above our heads and not underground, and our electric posts have hundreds of cable wires, true eyesores unlike in your country, I cite the hundreds of years above. Indios, will always be indios.
I read all the books that my Ma could never and will never read, for her. Because she never had much time to read. She made me who I am , a version of herself that she would have wanted to be, except for the part where I am not to wear a white dress, walk down an aisle with scarlet scarlet roses in my hands and goat skin gloves covering delicate fingers, in the arms of a handsome and brilliant but mean spirited lawyer. The mean spirited part came with wisdom and age. But he loved her. At least he loved her.
I’m not Polish. I’m not Indian. I’m not French, I’m just named after the country. I’m not English. And I do not feel like a real Filipina, because they say that I am a hybrid. Sometimes I am tempted to say that I was merely born her, but raised as if somewhere else.
And I am not even a writer. My mentor before, did not think so. I only write like one. I write like a writer but I am not a writer. I am a publisher.