March ends. Three days now into the month that should supposedly bring salvation to all.
April must be made of halos, stardust, white rabbits, dwarves, and other magical stuff. I never realized just how special the month is until now.
My mother celebrates her birthday today.
Nothing special about today, though. Table’s empty except for the beef steak my mother cooked. Delicious. Your work is the reflection of the food you eat, that’s what I believe. I want to believe that what I write here is, in its own way, amazing because that beef steak was amazing. Nothing special about today but that beef steak was amazing.
I used to be a sickly, frail little kid. My cough used to be so cruel I’d be stooping down on the edge of the sink, saying, “Ayoko na.” She would be there, caring after me, telling me to try to cough out all the phlegm because that’s what’s making my breathing difficult. She’d prepare all my medications, Vicks on a steaming bowl of water and the usual capsules and tablets. Fever after fever brought me down, but she’d be there putting a warm, wet piece of cloth on my boiling forehead. Every time I got sick, she was the reason I got well.
I consider us, siblings, spoiled to the point of being evil. The woman whom my father married is so persevering that her hands are literally running out of flesh now because of the millions of times she’d scrubbed our clothes with them. Our clothes are large now and there’s a clunky washing machine doing half the job. But she’s still on it, the secret to our household’s survival.
This one’s for that woman.
Pages turn yellow, Chucks get shabby, eye bags deepen. My old frailties gone, I entered adulthood much stronger. But life is hard and I’m hardened. I grew much too dark and cynical in life until another woman’s face shone like the sun.
Chemae celebrates her birthday today.
A barrage of text messages woke her up this morning. She was surprised when I told her that only about three people greet me regularly by text message during my birthdays. That doesn’t mean I don’t have friends. I’m just not a “cellphone person.”
But Chemae is a cellphone person, and an Internet person, a coffee person, a band person, a “gimik” person. She’s in touch with people, affecting their lives in different, sometimes weird, ways. Perhaps it’s her passion to arrange beach parties, her stunning alcohol tolerance, the signature dark mascara, or just her plain, in-your-face personality that attracts people. Whatever the reason is, she’s so special that someone out there would stay up until midnight just to greet her a “happy birthday.”
Chemae is a bridge to what’s real, what’s out there. Unknown to many, she lives a life much too burdensome and dangerous for ordinary people. She was broken in the past but she managed to collect herself, piece-by-piece, to become a force as unstoppable as a tsunami. She dusted me off with her caring hands and sang beautifully to my ears until finally, a genuine smile crossed my face.
I thought myself too old before but Chemae pulled out the kid in me. If all my plans, dreams and wishes are done to make her look my way these days, that’s because I am extremely grateful for her.
This one’s also for that woman.
We, men, are naive souls drifting directionless in the streets. We play with our action figures, throw them away, play with our friends, throw them away, and play too seriously with our careers, then throw time away. We are so helpless, so naive and egoistic of an existence to make an art out of life.
Thankfully, a few awesome women are here by our side.
This one’s for these two women whom I love with all my heart.
Happy Birthday, mama, Chemae! 😀