Mar 16, 2002

March 15

I dreamt of you.

What it portends or indicates I have no clue. It's a strange thing because I seldom remember my dreams and less often would I remember the characters who played their vague roles therein.

And come morning I recalled the date. Happy Birthday Les!

You were there, in the center. I hope that didn't mean ill tidings. I hope that means only that I still remember. And my vow, made as a child, I restate here. You need only to call me and, in your trouble, I will be there.

Our friendship is both strange and profound. And one of the best although - my great fault - not the best kept.

Still, if your separate way will lead you here, in the realm of my expression, I hope you won't feel too humiliated that I remember.

Most of this, I owe to you.

Live your life well. Happy Birthday.

***

March 13

Would a right-minded lover propose to begin his first intimate relationship on Friday the 13th? I never was too superstitious from the beginning. Nor right-minded.

So it came to pass that a month after you were teary-eyed on the phone, after you rejected his plea to return and be your valentine again, you would be mine. And my heart throbbed incessantly. It was all so new to me. I never knew I had it in me. I never thought I wanted to be so prized. I never thought I could be so loved.

Yet I was. I asked you why. You said you weren't sure yourself. I was never a right-minded person. You never understood why you would feel drawn to me, a boy-man who would fuss about ants and their deaths.

I knew why I was drawn to you. You were a silent flower.

You were silent. But we all knew you weren't shy, snobbish, or aloof. You were just silent. You stared deeply and thought fluently. Yet you would never speak more than what courtesy required. Since we met as freshmen, I was drawn to you.

So it was that the pretty lady, whose silence I heard from the very beginning, would find my gibberish a bit too interesting. And I, a fool, rushed in.

Yet I could be silent too. I could not vow as other lovers could. I had no sweet promises or passion-filled oaths. I only had doubts.

We parted at semester's end. You wrote me a letter from Nueva Ecija. I had none to send. Those were hard times and I thought I was leaving UP so that my brother could study in my stead. I could not write and tell you about it. I feared what would brood in your depths.

What would come from the abyss of your silence? I could not tell. I never read you. I never knew you. Of all things that I feared from you - wrath, tears, scorn - I feared most that nothing would issue forth.

So I wrote you one paltry letter in the summer. And there was no word of my trouble. Just a plain report of safe things. Most of all, as you would later confess, that letter was three words short.

I could not write them.

Your judgment fell hard as a warhammer, light as paper. Before my birthday, weeks before independence day, you wrote that you found another. You learned much from me. I was more of a brother to you. You wrote those and other cruel things in a handful of memo-sized stationery.

Fortunes change and I enrolled for the first semester. Times were less harsh. We would be classmates again.

You would know of the truth a few weeks later. But I was already playing the part of your elder brother and professor, as you had assigned in your parting letter. I contemplated loving another who was unloved.

And I never asked about him who replaced me. You have no need of me anymore, that was final. It had to be.

I would know later that there was really no other. There were just two hearts too silent.

Could ants construe that they held their fortune in their own hairy hands? Yet we are men and we read stones and mountains, stars and ants. We think things and think of the old ways we think of things and we consider some things superstition. We do that. For my part, I do not deny that fortune is, in parts great or small, in our hands.

Or at least, that is the practical way to think.

So I deemed then and I deem now that there would be no future for us. But I foresee that every March 13, I would remember as I remember now, four March thirteens later. And every thirteenth, when it falls on a Friday, I would remember how I was bound to your silent lips.

Let it now stand as a grim mark for futures to come, how once it was a man's undoing that he left things unspoken.