Ene 6, 2002

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HUMANITIES I
To My Old English Professor


Conversation is possible, we both know, because we are, in the first place, different. You were old, set in your ways, rooted. Your reputation overshadowed us all. Our very textbooks had your name emblazoned on them.

We were young. I was nothing but a germ, seeking, taking everything in, taking root in the same breath as I denied my roots. I was a mere boy holding everything in, because I had nothing to offer.

In those times, I was trying to piece myself together from the only love I knew. I was to know greater loves. But back then there were only the shards of the greatest failure I knew. I just wanted to graduate and get on to the next level. If I survived, great. If I didn't, well, it was expected.

You came in as a terrible surprise. You thought I would amount to something else. Something better.

But I fled from your territory. That was my last term in your department. I was moving on to Filipino where I felt more true to the voices in my head. You were the only thing in that department that really mattered. The only regret.

Years between us and now I fear conversation with you, most beloved among my mentors. I fear talking out loud and speaking in English. I dread doing both. I dread it most, in your intimidating presence.

Can you help it if I placed you in a pedestal then left your image unworshipped, your path unfollowed? I fear I will plummet against all your admonitions. And I would have to use all I've learned from you against the very things you value.

What if Heaven existed for us in the same way, none of the relativity which I now so cherish, huh Professor? And I what if I had to pass through for judgment? A judgment you would have surely passed dear Ma'am.

What if you came and sat at my trial? would you greet me then in English? Would you require of me, a loud voice? Would I fear it then, our imminent conversation?

Would I look resentingly upon you? You who gave me the great burden of believing in myself? You, my faith and insecurity?

You wouldn't look down on me would you? No. I never thought you were capable of condescension, beloved mentor. But you always had the heart, as saints did, for great pity and immense sorrow.

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ESKAPO

Sa totoo lang gusto kong bumalik sa Batangas. Masarap doon, akala mo walang problema, walang mga dedlayn. Walang inaasahan sa akin, walang Board Members o kahit staff. May pamilya rin doon pero OK lang. Tiyo, Tiya, at mga pinsan.

Basta ba magbanat ng kaunting buto, sapat para hindi maituring na pabigat. Ayoko rin naman na para lang bisita.

Pero heto na naman ang tulak ng eskapismo. Alam ko na dito ako nararapat. Maraming hinaharap na problema. Siguro nga, kaya kailangan ng tao ng mga panaginip, para kahit sa isang "lugar" man lang, agarang nakakamit ang nasa.

Pakiramdam ko ganito lang talaga. Kung kailan iniisip ng tao na marami siyang kailangang takasan, ibig sabihin, sa panahong iyon maraming dapat harapin.

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MALAYONG KAIBIGAN

Kumusta ka na, malayong kaibigan? Harinawa nakaayos ang lahat ng mga alalahanin mo. Hindi na ako isa sa mga iyon, alam ko. Hindi isang alalahanin, hindi dapat isaalang-alang.

Iba ka na ngayon, sigurado, isang kumpigurasyon ng mga posibilidad na tinatanaw lamang natin noon. Isang kalipunan ng mga sandaling lumipas na hindi man lang natin namalayan.

Inaalala kita ngayon, isinasaalang-alang. Sapagkat noon, isa ka sa mga posibilidad na tinatanaw ko. Isa ka sa mga sandaling bahagi ko. At lumipas na, malayong kaibigan.

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UNTAMED

You are, by far, the most difficult person I know. I could never tame you, your mind speaks in its own feline tongue, always acquiescing but never losing second thoughts.

But I love you endlessly because there is nothing left for me to do. To not love you is to betray what I have always been. To be indifferent of your existence is to betray the hopes of everything that I could be.

I could not escape you if I wanted to. Your speech annoys me at times and destroys me every so often. But your touch tells me that I am Man. Your gaze roots me to the good Earth and commits me to aspire for Heaven. And when your fingers gently outline my face, you succinctly define who I am. Yours.

You are the most difficult person I know. And that may be because I can never tame you. You are the most difficult person I know maybe because of what I am when you are around, in proximity, in memory, or in dream. I am, unceremoniously and utterly, subdued.