Showing posts tagged literature
You might call me positively mental for liking the Lenten Season and the Paschal Triduum more than Christmas, even more than my own birthday. (I only know of one other person who feels the same way.) I don’t know. Maybe it’s that part of me that is innately and irrevocably attracted to suffering, guilt, and pain—things that are surely copious in my life (or so I think). And it’s not as masochistically gaudy and senseless as you think; I have come to believe that suffering and pain can be transmuted into something undeniably good—something far greater than what our feeble minds can possibly grasp. But then again, maybe it’s my upbringing as a Christian that dictates the whole of me to be so attracted and attached to the traditions and rituals of the Church at this part of the Liturgical Year. I mean, when you really think about it, this is why believers call themselves Christians—the fact that Jesus, the one whose birth was foretold, made good with His promise of salvation by offering His own life. This unconditional love is still the model I subscribe to, as intangible as the concept might seem. Or maybe that’s just it, my soul is and has always been in dire need of a love that is colossally strong, so monumental that it could save the souls even of those who are yet to be born; a love that transcends time and space.
I am in no way shoving my beliefs down your throat, dear reader. All I’m doing is expressing what for me is the most awaited time of the year, a time where I see some (if not all) hearts melt and feel any degree of repentance for their shortcomings—all rooted to lack of love, for oneself, for their neighbours, and for this earth and all living on and in it. All I’m doing is expressing what I think is this Good Friday’s rationale, a celebration of the greatest kind of love—the kind we all need, the kind we all dream, and maybe we hope to one day share—the selfless kind.
I know I have been, for the most part of my life, a rather sad fellow. The life I have led so far has pushed my mind to fight this naturally somber and melancholic disposition. I would have to admit now that though I’ve experienced immense sadness—the kind I thought my meager being would not have been able to survive—I have also experienced immense and immeasurable joy, peace, contentment, and love. Knowing well enough that it takes courage to face the daily struggles of choosing to be happy and positive, I take this moment to acknowledge that I have, whether unknowingly or not, decided for sometime now to look at life with as much hope and love as I could possibly do. All the time.
And at the end of my life, I’d want to be a glaring and unconquerable sunbeam, bright and warm, bound to fade but existent—valid. I guess I’ve always known that I was born to foster light, as dark and abyssal as my soul was and will always be.
our pasts are ghosts we need to honor fully—like spirits, when given an improper farewell, no memorials, they haunt us. let’s remind ourselves.
today: i will bury my dead, lost loves and honor them the best way i can. set those ghosts to quiet, loving peace. the final farewell. the burning of the ship.
With our hands intertwined, we make an ascent to the side of the mountain I have grown to love and have grown upon. My lips retain a little gap, and with my eyes they wander. I am in my skin and you are in yours, but today we have been paired to spend these hours in jovial union. And so my hand rejoices in the presence of yours in it.
I fidget in my seat and stare at the wide familiar expanse of road ahead of us. We are surrounded by windows and the shifting lights of this mid afternoon validate our movement forward. Another car passes us by, its dying hum indicative of the growing distance between the two moving automobiles. I haphazardly throw a glance at the rear view mirror, desperate, and realize too soon that I will not see it, not in this angle; today, I am a passenger. So, I quickly settle for the warmth of your hand and the heat of your sideward glances.
It is almost summer and the giant tree ahead of us is shedding its necrotic leaves to the wind. I quickly decide to follow and focus on one until after a second or two I lose track of it, its last blurry airborne image quickly draining out of my head.
We speed up and I imagine the unseen wind hitting the windshield, deflecting, leaving our skins safe from its convergence. I catch a glimpse of my idle hand. I lift it up to the sunlight and carefully observe the crisscrossing lines, the roughness of its terrain.
We continue to drive ahead, and I still wait to feel.
By Jaime An Lim
I am haunted by the sadness of men
hanging out at night
in all parks and alleys of the world.
They wait and meander
the safer distance
Every face a catalog of possibilities,
every look a whole vocabulary of need.
Tonight, you are the dream
who walks in my waking sleep,
who bears miraculously
the shape voice motion of remembered love.
How can I resist the reckless
Leap from the world
of furtive bushes and tunneling headlights,
to this room, no less anonymous,
of thin walls, thinning mattresses,
where we grapple and thrash
like beached sea creatures
breathing the dry unfamiliar air?
When you stand to go, I ease myself
into the hollow your body leaves.
I press the faint smell of you to my face.
O Christ, were I loving you
drinking your blood, eating your flesh!
But the morning betrays nothing.
The chair in the corner stands mute,
the mirror repeats your absence.
When the curtains are flung back
to the let the harsh light in,
the bed looms empty.
I am finally all I have.
A part of you slips out of your own skin, taking everything you once held sacred. You reach for it with your bare hands and the formless, shapeless you slips off your fingers, never to be held once more, never to be read, never to be kissed. Lost more than free.
The you is like a book of unread poems, the collective meaning will round the earth like ravenous ghosts, haunting their definition and weight which they will never find. Haunted more than haunting.
The you is a bottle of wine poured onto the parched ground, every last drop untasted, leaching to the ground, yearning for the gravity that’s both cruel and kind, present and absent. There more than here.
And the you is his more than mine.
What scares us?
The night has settled in the way my body dents the mattress when I lay myself to sleep. Outside, the silence of the night becomes a constant melody as my ears hear nothing but the deep, steady lub-dub beneath my chest. I breathe in. I breathe out.
I put out my bedside lamp with a quick, almost inconspicuous click of a switch and darkness engulfs everything. I stare with eyes wide open at the space above me. I can’t really see anything but I know too well that I am staring at my ceiling. I know too well, too, that it is staring right back at me. The only thing between us is this space and the thorough absence of light.
Somewhere outside I hear a lizard clicking. A loud motorcycle passes by the road just outside and through my window a momentary glimmer of light flashes through my wall and disappears, leaving a hazy, quickly dissolving memory of a blinding brightness. I continue to stare through the dark. Nothing seems to stir. Nothing seems awake.
My eyes adjust by themselves and slowly I start to make out the whiteness of my ceiling. I make out the outline of my legs covered by a thin blanket and the frame of my window. I fix my gaze at the night sky which gradually reveals its stars, shining even with—or because of—the absence of light around it, swift and constant, steady as the lub-dub beneath my chest.
I fall asleep thinking that—despite all the distance, despite all the time—they come to us.
The sound of the elevator doors opening resonated through the vacant corridors of the 18th floor. Nathan felt relieved that his feet were heading home at last. He checked his watch. 11:12pm, it seemed to scream. He knew very well that he was underpaid and that tomorrow, he’d most likely leave at this same hour. For the nth time, he reminded himself that he was lucky enough to get a job so quickly given that he just got out of college.
“Everything takes time. Baby steps, Nathan. Baby steps. Gain experience,” he whispered to himself.
He almost dragged his legs inside. Inside the stainless steel walls of the elevator, he caught his reflection showcasing different angles of his face. Immediately, he thanked his lucky stars that the elevator was vacant. Not just so he could lazily lean on the walls, but because no one would be a witness to this version of his face, accentuated by a month’s worth of stress. He pressed the G button and it immediately lit up. A bit frustrated and mostly tired, he stared at the sign which said Level 18 just as the doors began to gently close.
He felt the elevator stop.
For a quick moment, while leaning on the side of the elevator with his bag sprawled on the floor, he wondered who else could still be in at an hour like this, and then thought of the number of employees that could be like him—on the verge of martyrdom. Not too many, he suspected.
The doors slid open on the 14th floor. An impeccably dressed guy stood before him. For what seemed like a long time, they exchanged surprised stares at each other, clearly the other guy also didn’t expect to see anybody. He reached for the G button, but seeing that it was already lit, placed his hands in his pocket. He leaned on the opposite side of Nathan, as if trying to imitate him. Both of them were politely smiling as the elevator doors closed once again.
Killing the silence, the guy asked him with a genuine expression of curiosity, “Over time?”
“Without pay,” Nathan answered nodding. He tried to smile, although he was sure it came out as a smirk.
“How about you?” Nathan asked. He found this stranger rather interesting, as if there was an air of mystery about him.
“Well, actually,” the guy wasn’t able to finish his sentence because suddenly, the elevator lights went out and the elevator came to a full stop. After three seconds, the emergency lights blazed brightly.
It was unusual that unannounced blackouts occurred in this part of the city, but it was more unusual—rather rare, that generators weren’t ready for events like this. Nathan began to feel a developing hate towards the building.
“Just my luck!” Nathan said sarcastically.
“I’ll try calling security in the lobby,” the guy said calmly as he fidgeted with his phone.
Nathan gave a loud grunt after feeling his pockets. He must have left his phone on the desk, charging. What else could go wrong? He thought.
“Don’t worry about it, there’s no service here anyway.”
“What?” Nathan asked, worried and annoyed.
“I’m sure someone’s working on getting the electricity back. Maybe in a few minutes…”
“Why are you so calm?” Nathan asked, failing to hide his irritation.
“Well, because at least I know I have someone to talk to while I wait. I’m Andrew, by the way. How are you, Jonathan?” Andrew held out his hand.
“How did you know my name?” Nathan raised his eyebrows.
Andrew pointed on the ID on Nathan’s chest.
“Right,” Nathan replied, trying to stifle an embarrassed smile.
“As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted by this blackout, I just came back here because I forgot my apartment keys, I thought I lost it and was at a friend’s house when I figured I should check my office drawers,” Andrew pulled out from his pocket a bunch of keys which jingled, the sound stark in the silent space.
They had been on the elevator for 27 minutes when the emergency lights started to weaken, but they hardly noticed it. For 27 minutes, they’ve been talking non-stop. They discussed work. They talked about college, music, short-term goals and long-term plans. They talked about pets, they talked about the weather, books and food. They talked about things that arbitrarily came to their minds. At first, Nathan hesitated to open up, but Andrew proved to be a good listener. He looked at him intently when he asked something and he doesn’t cut. He gives advice, but wasn’t too preachy. He shared but does not blabber. It felt natural, talking to him. Nathan never felt this good talking to someone, not even to his closest friends. Before he knew it, he was already thinking, wishing that this was the first of many conversations with Andrew.
The emergency lights started to flicker until it went out. The sound of the elevator humming came back. Wind started to blow again from the ceiling and they slowly stood up, fixing their clothes.
“I didn’t even notice the time,” Nathan exclaimed after checking his watch.
“I did, but I didn’t really care,” Andrew replied. Smiling like he has for the past half hour.
“How are you going home?” Nathan asked.
“The train. How about you?”
“I usually ride the bus, but I can ride the train with you, if you like,” Nathan felt his face break into a smile. On any normal day, he wouldn’t have said that out loud, but this day… well, this day was pleasantly strange. He liked him.
“That would be perfect,” Andrew clenched his fist as if he just made a homerun.
“I’m glad I got stuck with you,” Nathan said, almost whispering.
“I’m glad I went here to find more than just my apartment keys,” Andrew uttered staring at Nathan’s face.
The elevator doors slowly opened to reveal a deserted lobby.
“Hey, my phone’s still on my desk! I should get it first, right?” The thought struck Nathan as sudden as an unannounced blackout.
“Yeah, sure. Let’s go!” Andrew exclaimed with a tinge of excitement.
“Should we take the stairs?” Nathan asked innocently.
“No. Of course, not. I like being in elevators.” Andrew replied.
“Me, too.” Nathan failed to suppress a hearty laugh as he pressed the button lighting the number 18.
The elevator ascended carrying with it two boys, both with a newfound understanding that blackouts and elevators don’t always make for a bad combination.