Bared

Simple living matters most to me. Yet, life itself is too complex that even the simplest hopes and wishes of an ordinary farmer are fraught with hardships and obstacles.

I do not belong inside the box because I live unlike other individuals who follow the norms dictated by the times. I exist in the manner I prefer: live and let live.

People, most who personally knew me, knows me and acquainted about me, will not agree that I am the same person in the flesh. Positives or negatives, their notions on how I tick could only be described as clashing. I sow confusion by just being me, in people’s minds, that is. And I never intend it to be so.

When I open my mouth, there’s no denying I can express opinions and viewpoints that most people will adhere to. Or against. What vexes any listener is how I could start talking about an inane topic, for example cheap imported toys, for a few minutes, then all of a sudden I segue to world politics dealing with the international row between nations about disputed islands. I detect the ironies clearly. I like to connect the dots which some people do not even see in the first place.

I can be a pain sometimes, okay, most of the time. My fuzzy way of thinking could never be pigeon-holed into any category. This is why so many people like to paint me as a cuckoo. In all honesty, in my opinion, I think it is a compliment.

Oh, it’s just a small part of me. The rest is as human as any of you.

Tempo

The mood for every situation is dictated by the individuals during the event and how they wanted it displayed for themselves and for those observing from the sidelines.

In our case, a subdued ambiance was in order, the gathering followed the norms dictated by tradition. To be frank though, not everything that transpired then was connected to sadness. There were lighthearted moments and a few funny incidents, too. Those welcome sidelights somewhat consoled our grieving hearts.

Take for example the food served to guests during the wake (a nine-day vigil). Most popular (and easiest to procure) are instant coffee mixes and biscuits. As hosts we needed not bother to provide complicated forms of refreshments: Mother chose a similar arrangement. Because I was a few days late (another long story), I was not included in the planning.

As soon as I arrived from the pier, I opened the big box of coconut-flavored homemade candies I brought along. Pre-ordered from an acquaintance who sell them for a living, I was sure they would be a hit, especially to children.

As small tokens of appreciation, Mother reserved half of them to be distributed to medical personnel who assisted her during Father’s hospitalization. I promised to bring more when I come back.

Quiet for most of the time, I listened to stories related to my Father’s life as revealed by relatives. But what caught my attention more was the sight of guests trying out the round-shaped, orange-sized and flat candies we served. If it was not a wake, I bet I would be doubling up with laughter seeing the difficulty some people had savoring the sweets.

“This is too hard for my taste!” a disgusted old man commented, revealing most of his teeth absent and lost long ago. Several tries later and the candy would not be divided in his mouth. He looked like a baby struggling with the pacifier.

“I never had this sweet candy before,” another remarked while licking hers instead of biting small parts bit by bit. She, too, was denied a perfect set of munching tools. Her ordeal could last much of the hour while the candy would only melt if she persisted.

“I can’t wait to finish mine,” an inventive fellow confessed, busy cutting his share with a knife. Like any Filipino, he would find another way to deal with a problem.

“Leave them alone!” a female voice ranted to the group. The old lady readily accepted her limitations and decided not to test her chewing power: she chose a cup of coffee and a small plate of biscuits instead.

I kept my peace and decided not to ruin my calm pose. Cold as ice is a description many people referred to my demeanor.

“It’s okay to smile, or even laugh.”

I did not recognize the person who uttered those words because there were numerous groups around me exchanging pleasantries and stories. Their animated conversations were spiced with quiet laughter and gaps of silence.

Well, he or she was correct, I had to admit. By then, I felt less guilty for having a sunnier disposition. It did not diminish whatsoever the genuine bereavement we shared.

More or less, I almost forgot why I brought those candies along in the first place. To be exact, the specialty was one of Father’s favorites.

Desired

I have to admit I was at a loss when my father passed away. Our family of four was one less, a pillar removed, our stable state suddenly denied a solid foundation. Priorities were rearranged; the future uncertain.

Mother became my foremost reason to deny myself of any personal objectives. For a time, during my break, I began to accept that my life would be destined to caring for her: she is old and alone. Whatever I want or wish to do have to wait, her well-being stays first in my list.

Writing became a luxury, not a necessity. Slowly, I lost the desire to connect words and phrases to form a meaningful story. Although in my mind I possessed scrambled ideas and would-be plots, they faded quickly as soon as reality reminded me of what was more important at the moment.

But life is not always as one sees it. There will be times that the unexpected would introduce something favorable to what one first believed as an unfavorable situation. When there is that silver lining that one missed because of the dark clouds of confusion during an unfortunate incident, it might reappear some other time, ready to be taken advantage of to provide a compromise acceptable to everyone concerned.

It will come to us. We will talk and find a better set-up. Adjustments are necessary.

By the way, today is my inspiration’s birthday! If you have no idea who I am talking about, I guess you have to find out yourself by mining my old posts. 🙂

Have a wonderful day, guys and gals!

Spinner

After I was forced to log off yesterday, I went out for a walk: to simmer down a bit.

A few minutes later, down the road toward the irrigation canal, I encountered another godson of mine. He rode his bike as if he was hounded by a pack of dogs: he raced, to be exact.

I raised my right hand to signal him to stop. Naturally, I expected him to obey me, sure that with his excellent sight he could recognize me a hundred yards away.

He passed me by, nearly sideswiped me with the rear wheel as he sped off downhill. I was afraid he would take a tumble but fortunately he excellently handled the bumps and holes in the uneven gravel secondary road.

I shrugged off the miss encounter as something ordinary, tossing in my head several theories why I received the snub.

When I reached home an hour later, he stood by my gate with another godson, my frequent visitor. They were in an animated conversation, hands motioning in the air as if their subject involved flying.

“Care to share with me the gossip?” I interrupted, opening the imaginary gate.

They laughed at my antic, accustomed to the way I interact with them.

Ninong, last night I saw an aswang outside our house!”

As curious as I was with the startling news, I calmly toned down my reaction, not contradicting him directly. I was most certain that his claim of seeing the folkloric local vampire was just a figment of his imagination.

“Did you not see me earlier?” I asked, diverting their attention toward reality.

“I was afraid so I did not look. Father told me to stop at nothing lest I could be snatched by the aswang.”

“Can you describe to me what you saw?” I asked, accepting his alibi.

“It was black as night, tall as a tree and silent as a mouse.”

“I saw something like it at home, too.”

My frequent visitor would not be defeated. He would match the story to stay in the forefront.

“I hate to tell you this but what you saw was your shadow. Look!” I pointed to them their afternoon black cast on the ground.

“But that’s at the back,” he reasoned out. “What I saw was in front.”

The lack of simple observation skill and the strategy of casting fear to a young mind created such a condition. Parents do not want their children wandering around at night so the tale was told.

“If you do not believe me, go out at night along with your father or mother, check out what I told you.”

Unimpressed, they politely waved me their goodbyes, probably thinking I was born a skeptic. Not true, of course.

Early this morning, my frequent visitor passed by on the way to school. He grinned to the max.

“You’re right, Ninong,” he reported. “I saw it.”

“I told you so.”

“But, there is an aswang,” he countered.

“Why are you so sure?” I asked.

“I heard mother calling father aswang last night after our lights went out.”

I said nothing further. Sometimes children misinterpret words they were not old enough to understand.

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Sorry So

I know most of you do not experience connection headaches. You go online and never see that spinning wheel for a second. Good for you. You do not get stressed the way we do.

Well, modern technology is great, most especially if it’s functioning as promised. But if not, it’s like driving a Formula One race car at 2 miles per hour top speed. I am sure you follow my drift.

Sometimes I feel like going ballistic, zeroing in on my target and detonating a kiloton of complaints. But then, I backtrack, fully knowing that I could not make a dent against the thickened skin of the giant beast, patently deaf and unmoved, sound-proof protected inside its fortified lair.

I was born in the year of the dragon so more often than not I tend to breathe fire when I am incensed with the way I am treated. Ordinary folks like myself do not give me the reason to blow my top. Most of the big and mighty provokes my sense of justice that I wish I could fly and sear them into reaction.

Do I hear chuckles? It’s all right. I am smiling, too. I want to laugh at myself for wasting my time staring at that spinning wheel.

Before I sleep, I could wish for a bolt of lightning to strike the main tower of my tormentor so my suffering would be over.

I guess I have to go.

Be well.

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Dense

Second part of the condensed version of Charged (Collection of Short Stories titled Love Is All Around)

– 0 –

PO1 Granada parted through the crowd like Moses dividing the Red Sea. Her uniform did the trick this time, her stature quickly accepted especially when they saw her caress her holstered gun.

“People! What’s going on here?”

“Loverboy there is decimating the flowers!”

The heckler was popular because he knew how to sew up the right words to create laughter. Known in the world as the ever-smiling race, he proved his claim to be the perfect example.

“Sir,” PO1 Granada wondered why on earth the man sat there like a fool, unperturbed by the loathing he repeatedly received. “You have to stop that. Park regulations prohibit people from destroying public property.”

Roger stopped suddenly, the phrase ‘she loves me’ his last. He sensed that the new arrival was different from the people around him.

He turned around casually, ready to defend his actions for all to hear. However, when he saw the police officer who admonished him, his eyes widened.

PO1 Granada gasped, her surprise total. Dispersing the crowd was the first option that crossed her mind. She would lose her credibility if what she feared occurred.

Shut up! Don’t do this to me!

Roger telepathically received the unspoken message, bowing his head to avoid eye contact with anyone. He was a portrait of a criminal, caught in the act of a senseless crime.

“Enough people! You have your entertainment for the day.”

“What about him?” the heckler asked, stopping the crowd from losing interest. “He should be punished.”

“He will be,” the policewoman agreed. “I know my job.”

“I am curious,” the heckler would not leave unsatisfied. “What will be his punishment?”

Roger did not move. He started blaming himself for the stunt he initiated.

“I know,” the heckler roared. “He should gather all the petals on the ground and make a crown. That way we could make him the King of Wishful Thinking. Yeah, like the song.”

The crowd clapped heartily with the suggestion. They began preparing their cellular phones and other gadgets. The scene could be uploaded in YouTube and other social networks.

“Enough!” PO1 Granada had to pronounce her authority. “There would no mob judgment. This is police business now.”

– 0 –

Handcuffed and herded like an ordinary felon, Roger was mum while the policewoman kept her distance. Onlookers watched them, most in a state of bewilderment on what happened.

“I am sorry,” he coughed out.

“Have you lost your mind?” she shot back, walking ram-rod and straight like a proper law enforcer.

They reached the Japanese garden, which was tucked away from the main grounds, unusually free from visitors.

“Give me you hands,” she produced the key to unlock the cuffs. “You do this again and you’ll be more than sorry.”

“I was really desperate since yesterday. I could not sleep. I had to do something to let my mind at ease.”

“Are you at ease now?” she mellowed her delivery.

“It depends on what you’ll decide,” Roger looked like a lamb, well, a bearded lamb who was on the verge of tears.

“You’re the most sincere man I have met,” she clasped his hands. “As a woman, I am supposed to follow the routine, you know. I have to keep you guessing. But …”

“But what?” Roger did not want to hear the usual parting words he heard so many times. Still, he bravely waited for her final say.

“with what you did today, I have to make sure you won’t try other silly performances.”

“So?”

“You’re not a bright person,” PO1 Granada, a.k.a. Sally, jested. “Do I have to spell it out for you?”

THE  END

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Sharp

A fresh start. It seems everything is in order: the sun is shining, the current is flowing, the connection is holding, and I am awake. 🙂

Here’s a condensed version of one of my short stories in the collection Love Is All Around.

Charged

Roger was ecstatic.

Walking briskly toward the park he frequented, he could not help but paint an almost permanent smile on his bearded face. His emotional bliss was brought about by the prospect of acquiring a girlfriend for the first time in his life.

Sally gave him the hint, that most important word to present him with hope: maybe.

There was a long, long list of female names he stashed somewhere to remind him of his heartaches, his forays to courtship that had gone sour before they even started. He was not the type to attract outright the female species: he was effeminate with a muscular built.

– 0 –

Strollers passed him by with most of emotions and degrees of surprise. One homeless male distinctly uttered the word ‘crazy’ behind his back.

“She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, …”

The petals of assorted flowers were scattered around him: they were the victims of his whim, his faith to the old thought handed down through generations of lovers.

He could not pick it correctly. Every time, his performance ended with ‘she loves me not’ and he would repeat the process again.

Two teenagers lingered for a while, an arm’s length distance from his sitting position, observing him like he was a specimen inside an imaginary cage in a zoo. They whispered to each other, giggling quietly lest he could be offended.

A biker, rested from his early-morning round, parked behind where the teens stood, joining the onlookers. From his curled lips, a mocking grin formed.

More spectators milled around: oddities were hard to come by, especially in a public place.

– 0 –

PO1 Granada was not amused by his superior’s antics. A neophyte and a ‘girl’ (the same word spat out with a smirk), she was stationed in the national park to patrol the grounds. Without a partner to converse with, she looked like an ordinary woman in uniform. It was a joke.

Often, she would be accosted by strangers, thinking all along that she was in some kind of a masquerade, a hanger-on of Halloween, costumed all year round.

“Back off,” she warned. “This is a real gun.”

Reciting the same dialogue over and over again made her feel less confident. People did not show her the respect she deserved.

When she saw the crowd, she abruptly banished her distressing thoughts, recovering immediately to perform her sworn duty to preserve the peace and uphold the law.

“Thank heavens!” she sighed. “Something.”

– 0 –

“She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, …”

“You’re wasting your time!”

The loud comment hurt him a bit as if truth was a realization he had to surrender to. The heckler summed up the conclusion of most of those around.

“Let me be!” he shouted. “Go on! Leave!”

– 0 –

(to be concluded)

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