July 15, 2013 09:11am     Well, I suppose, you should laugh at me now. Tell me I told you so. I got fooled again. You told me to stay away from the prick, but I didn’t, because stupid me thought it was love. I’m writing this on the bed, my hands shaking, waiting for him to come. He doesn’t know it yet, that I read his journal and found the letters from his ex. He said I was his first, Liam. His first. And then you find this Valentine card from 2011 from a Sophie, telling him she loves her. Or he. I can’t really tell. The person who is with him, his lips almost on her/his cheek looks rather like a girl or a boy. The letter was sweet and all, she/he telling him how she/he loves him and how beautiful it would be to have their time spent together till they’re old and gray. That obviously is never going to happen.

And then this notebook that is plopped on the floor now, I found some notes inside how on May 2 he said yes to Bert. Bert, who was introduced as the best friend. I don’t know what that yes means but fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckfuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckfuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckfuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckfuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckfuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckfuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckfuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck–

A comfortable subject—the relationship between a husband and his wife—makes an uncomfortable about-turn in an astonishing new novel

The next book the youth will be paying particular attention to isn’t about an erotica with characters ripped off from a glittering vampire novel. Nor is it about another extremely judgmental angst-y teen and his refusal to grow up. It doesn’t follow a John Green-ish plot line. No two cancer patients falling in love, no werewolves, zombies, nor a group of survivors in a dystopia. In place, we have a story of a husband and a wife, why they grew apart, and the dark and knotty narrative that went on after that.

They met cute at a party in New York. It was 2005, seven years before our story starts. Nick was a writer who wrote about TV and movie and books. Amy was a writer who wrote personality quizzes for magazines. Both found the exact same things worth remembering. Both had the same rhythm. All of a sudden both saw reading in bed and waffles on Sunday and laughing at nothing and his mouth on hers or hers on his.

Everything didn’t go as planned, however, when both lost their jobs after their marriage and had to move to a small and dying Midwest town. This is where our story begins, two years after the move, in which, if you remove the marriage plot, has a lot more to do with Amy’s sudden disappearance and the eyes of suspicion for a possible murder falls on Nick, the husband.

Then tension builds, evidences are starting to be unearthed, and people have begun demanding for answers: where is Amy? What really went on inside the house of the couple before she went missing? Is Nick responsible for her disappearance?

It boasts itself as a thriller; on the contrary, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is a slow burn. While it’s true that the book has the knack to keep one in turning the pages, it came out quite dragging come midpoint–chapters that should’ve been cut off as details that have already been given away, if perused by the reader, are made known again and again. It saves itself, however, during the second part, where the author kicked it up a notch–unveiling of plot twists, characters are now seen in a new light–and the story became thrilling again, making the readers grip for more.

What’s more fascinating are the themes presented: issues on gender and the setbacks on the meltdown of the economy–idleness, relocation, mounting debt, family illness, etc. Flynn is on to something. It’s the sort of story that weighs against a dynamite: the string has been lit, and it’s only a question of how long till the detonation blares up, and how much damage will be made when it happens. Well, in Amy and Nick’s case, a whole heap.

 

I was right when I thought that I should’ve gotten some groceries from the convenience store before I headed home from work last night. But I didn’t  because it was already past twelve and I just wanted to crawl into bed and hug the pillows and crumple the sheets. Now I don’t have any chow in my place; haven’t eaten anything for the past eight hours (I wolfed down a siopao takeout from Chowking earlier after waking up from an afternoon sleep [which I heat up using my laptop like I always do with my McDo burger takeouts mehe]). This is why I am skinny; and getting skinnier still like I’m on some kind of drugs.  Normally, on nights like this I’d drag myself to McDonalds Ilustre to eat, but I don’t know! I’m almost always very sluggish when I’m on my day-off; I just want to stay in bed the entirety of the day. A crazy idea:how convenient would it be to have a boyfriend who can run errands for you all the time? If I had one now, I could just maybe give him a ring and beseech him in my all pa-cute-y voice to buy food and take them into my apartment. Which, of course, sounds awfully depraved of me to say, I know. My idea of a perfect romance has been fucked up since my last and only relationship. I mean, I was at the time a really sweet and faithful boyfriend?

Although there’s someone I’ve been talking to for awhile now and we’re cool on most days. He’s probably going to read this and think, “What a loser,” and never talk to me again. :<

(@#$% how do you stop Photoshop from opening when you’ve accidentally clicked on its icon on your desktop?!)

But back to first topic: no use saying “I should have” because unless I’ve invented a time machine I cannot undo what’s already been done. Char. I’m starving. Some guy on Facebook just posted an Instagram of what he had for dinner—roasted chicken and mashed potato on the side. Ugh. I’m going out now; take a jeepney ride to Sta. Ana and maybe try out Penong’s (if it’s open anyway) and take a stroll outside afterwards and do a little soul searching. Char again. I’m sorry about sounding like a whining ninny (I am!) all throughout the entry but it’s one o’clock and I still haven’t eaten my dinner so what’s the guy to do? Be a whining ninny! And thanks for reading my garbage. Bahaha. Bye. I’m eating roasted chicken and maybe, a mashed potato on the side.

I sat ramrod straight in a leather-y back-highed seat at the back of a practically empty bus. It was four in the morning, and I was about to leave Marbel, my hometown, for work in Davao. Yesterday I had my college graduation—nothing grand about it ‘cept for almost being on stage to get my diploma wearing a toga without its hood because I lost it just in time when the program rolled in (but someone was nice enough to lend me hers when it was my turn to walk on stage). Through the windows where I rested my head, I watched the almost empty streets, its broken lampposts, and that one corner on that one sidewalk where an old lady bends on hawking her bottles of pang pa-regla, love potions and little amulets against evil in the morning, when the sun is up. I watched as the bus revved off its engine, about to leave this small town, which I no longer feel a part of.

A nice old lady lives next to my apartment. Maybe nice is an understatement. When she hears me unlatch the lock to my door and the door creaks as I open it when I get home late at night, her head would peek  from her window and ask me if I’ve already taken my dinner. “I’ve left a plate of fried chicken for you,” she would usually say (or whatever there is on her table). Sometimes she’d knock on my door and give me fruits. Sometimes when she comes home from the groceries, she’d drop by my room and hand me a bag of cookies. Maybe when loneliness really gets to you, and you have no one else, you turn to other people, even the ones you barely know, for companion. That’s what she is, at least, I think. Today,   a woman late in her thirties, her daughter I think, helped her out packing her bags. I helped, too, by lifting the bags down the stairs to her daughter’s car. Nice old lady is moving out; says she’s going back to her hometown in Cagayan. She’s leaving any minute now, and I have this book in front of me, Kafka’s Metamorphosis, I’m not even sure if she’s going to like it, or even read it, but I love the book and it is special to me and I want her to have it before she says goodbye.

It was the same as it had always been. Books and magazines lining on dusty shelves. The cut-outs and watercolor paintings pinned on the corkboard. The white walls; and the peeling white paint on one corner and cobwebs on the other. Through the screen window where an empty lot is seen across the street. The smell of fabric conditioner when you pull the wooden door open, the sound of the TV in the next room and my siblings arguing over whose turn is it to hold the remote control. The paintings and posters and photographs of friends and tickets and excerpts of my favourite books plastered in all places. The box where letters from the boy I used to think I was gonna end up with now hidden under the bed. My paperback copy of The Book Thief on my bedside table that I never got to read. Postcards.  Paint brushes. Bargained DVD classics. And more books.

March 14 came in and I knew it was the time for me to go back to my hometown. March 14 meant four days to college graduation (having finished my degree last October I had to wait five months for this commencement). March 14 meant going back to that one place you’ve been longing to go back to since you’ve taken that four hour bus ride to Davao, to live large, live independently, like all kids who decided that they have grown into responsible adults and leave town for l’etrange. And nothing much has changed really. It’s the same twenty eight steps from the front door. My room. I knew every inch of it, every sight and sound. And I miss it.

He was a small boy rummaging through a large purse in a dark alley. The coins making clinking sounds as he fished them out of the bag and jostled them deep down his pockets. This seems like a normal scenario in the busy sidewalk of Alunan Avenue in Koronadal City. It is. But the purse in the boy’s hands was not his.

It was nine o’clock at night, a young lady walked home from school all by herself when a frail, willow-wild boy in ragged jeans and slippers that had holes in them ran up behind her and snatched her purse. The boy hurriedly ran away, leaving the poor lady crying for help.

The boy was Benson*, eleven. A snatcher. Yes, at eleven.

Benson’s story is just one of the many things the people of Koronadal witness everyday as the incomprehensible burgeoning of poverty appears on the busy streets of the city. There is the little girl tapping incessantly on car windows selling sampaguita garlands when the traffic stops. The aged blind man with his tin can sitting in front of the church. The fish vendor, the tricycle driver roaming the city streets at night, and the college student selling her flesh to pay for her tuition fees.

Et cetera.

Seeing them when I take a tricycle ride from home to school often makes me wonder what comes to the minds of other people when they see their own kind with no slippers on and the clothes they wear are as filthy as the rags we use at home. Do they, too, take pity looking at them? Or have they learned to brush it off and learned to adapt to the condition of the suffering masses that surround them? After all, this is Mindanao. What about our leaders? What comes to their minds?

“The rich becomes richer, the poor poorer.” The old aphorism has never rang truer and stronger than today. And our leaders have, once again, disregarded their responsibility to the marginalized sector of our society. People who have been on tenterhooks for so long a time are often ignored while our witless government officials penetrate even deeper to what is beyond the pale.

We see ourselves slowly fall into the gutter of the country that is rightly ours. Who are these so called leaders to live in extravagant mansions while the people they call their “bosses” live in the pavements with newspapers as blankets and old sacks full of trash as pillows? Have they got no shame? It seems as though we have become the sitting ducks who pay for the mistakes and misuse of power of those in office. Much as I pity the young lady for having her purse stolen, it is to the young boy Benson’s case that saddens me the most. It dampens our spirits to see a young boy whose family’s struggle to stay afloat prompted him to commit an act of a felon.

What would become to the likes of him if there would be no immediate action from the government to support them? Life is hard as it is and with the continuing misconducts in the government it would become hell for the poor and the disadvantaged. Their visions of living in comfort would end up skewered or tossed to the wind whilst looking with envy at the rich folks living in their luxurious mansions, driving fancy cars, and spending their ill-gotten wealth to the fanciest places.

It is frightening enough to live in this kind of society and it would be more so in the years to come if one administration after another pass on what has been a tradition of lying outright on our faces, confirming how dirty our politics can be.

If that is the case, I am afraid there would be thousands of eleven year olds rummaging through purses in dark alleys in the middle of the night years from now.

Some lessons from drinking session at Jill’s last night:

  • Boys can be really touchy to other boys in the dark.
  • Try to remember the name of the person you are introduced to because she’d prolly strike up a conversation with you an hour later and you don’t know how to address her. So you would call her “dude” instead.
  • Always bring an extra shirt when Puking Pierre’s around.
  • Buying a plate of Calamari and fries for yourself when Gwen and John’s around is never a good idea.
  • Five bottles of Red Horse gets you baked. Take another sip and you’re drunk as a skunk.
  • Five bottles and a half chugged down but still I managed to get home safe.
  • Cab drivers can be total assholes at three in the morning.