He needed to slow down. He was almost running on empty. Too many thoughts tumbled in and out of his mind. Thoughts about the bills. Thoughts about new houses with out-rented parking bays. Thoughts about mattress cleaning; sofa cleaning. Thoughts about broken bed frames and two-month-old cucumbers left rotting inside bacteria-infested refrigerators.
He needed a break. He needed to get away.
But if he did – if he let go, took an AWOL, who on earth would stay behind and make sure that all the expenses were paid?
Maybe he just needed to fill his gas tank up once more.
I am a storyteller. After years of trying to discover my writing niche, I’ve come up with the conclusion that telling stories — both fiction and non-fiction — is what I do best. I write long, thoughtful, melancholy prose punctuated by an abundance of commas and em-dashes. I write gently, romantically, and whimsically. Rarely would you find me writing tongue-in-cheek, bitch-slapping pieces. I don’t talk that way (harshly, bluntly) in person so… It would be kinda weird if I start taking on that tone of voice as a writer.
Once upon a time, I was a feature writer in both my elementary and secondary school papers. Once upon a time, I was the EIC and I wrote editorial pieces as well. Once upon a time, I had the privilege to compete in two national level campus journalism competitions — feature writing in Tacloban, Leyte* when I was eleven; editorial writing in Sta Cruz, Laguna when I was fifteen.
I had dreams of pursuing a degree in mass communication but, in retrospect, that might not have worked out for me. I’m too much of a softie. I watched Patricia Evangelista’s Diliman Ted X Talk on “Why We Tell Stories” the other day. Let’s say the universe conspired differently and I would now be working for a newspaper or a television company, would I have the courage and strength to put my life constantly on the line by doing hardcore journalistic reporting?
Perhaps I would, perhaps I wouldn’t.
So yeah, right now I’m a coder and I sit behind the computer most days typing out scripts — HTML, jQuery, PHP, and no, not production nor broadcasting scripts. But you can never take the communicator away from me. And so I continue to write stories.
But to what end? Why put my voice out into the sea of others, into a sea which many now shun, take for granted, or care little about? I mean, come on. I’m thankful for my blog followers, I’m thankful for those who take the time to read these pieces, and I will continue to write even if I had an audience of none — but yeah. Sometimes it gets disheartening when you’ve poured out everything to a piece only to find that you can count the number of people who’ve read that with one hand.
Maybe I should stop writing altogether and do something more productive instead.
But take writing away from me and you’ll leave me dead, lifeless, void of dreams and passion. So I won’t quit. I won’t give up. I won’t.
I chanced upon a tweet from Juan Ekis, a Palanca winning playwright, the other day. He said, “Nakakadepress magbasa ng balita sa feeds [It’s depressing to read the news in our feeds]. This is the perfect time for storytellers to donate healing & affirming stories to our people.” Can I say amen to that?
I realize that is what I can offer as a writer, as a storyteller. I can offer stories of hope. I can offer stories of healing and affirmation. I can even offer stories of kilig if you want, but that’s mostly because out of the overflow of the heart the keyboard creaks.
I’m going to continue treading upon the path of a storyteller. I know it won’t be easy. I may or may not make it but one thing is certain: I have to keep on writing.
No. Matter. What.
*Tacloban is still a MESS. Hope is starting to rise up from the ruins, but please do continue to pray. Keep those donations coming in, and help out by volunteering if you can. Thank you. You are all good and wonderful people.
I’m so hungry. I haven’t eaten in three hours. Ugh. There are so many things to do! Maybe I’ll just grab a cracker. That should keep me going for the next few hours until I get myself a decent lunch.
I’m so hungry. I haven’t eaten in… I don’t know. Three days? Six? I have lost all sense of time. I’m no longer sure when the rain ended and when it began. What would it take to grab hold of a piece of cracker? One bite and maybe I can last a few days more.
What is up with this phone??? Ugh. It’s so darn slow. And what’s with the new updates? You call that an update? A two year old can come up with a far better design.
What is up with this phone??? I thought I was able to save it from the waters. But now it just keeps on blinking on and off. But it won’t do me any good, really, once the battery runs out. And oh, there’s no signal, so… How do I update my mother? How do I let her know that I am still alive? How do I send a message saying that my two year old is safe as well? I’ve got to let her know, somehow. She must be worried sick.
This is a disaster. I can’t believe the bed frame collapsed on me. Am I really that heavy? Tsk. Such bad timing, too. I am so tired. I can’t fix this tonight. This is so annoying. I guess I’ll just have to sleep on the floor then. Or the sofa.
This is a disaster. There’s nothing left of our house. Nothing. It’s all a heap of battered rubble. We will sleep on the floor tonight. But which floor? This one will do, I guess. This one next to what looked like it might have been our old sofa.
Life is so unfair. Why do these things keep on happening to me? Ugh. Life. Is. So. Unfair.
Life is good. I can’t believe I can still say that, what with all the things that have happened here. But we’re alive. We will continue to survive. Help is on the way. Life is good. God is good. He’ll take care of us here.
* * *
A strong typhoon (Yolanda, internationally known as Haiyan) has recently devastated the central part of my country. The aftermath is heartbreaking. The words I’ve typed out are pathetic and do little to capture what must be going on inside the hearts of the all the people affected. Now, if you’d like to help out, please do see how you can do so through these links right here:
He cooked for me, you know. This October, when he fetched me from the airport.
“Let’s have breakfast. Do they charge for corkage here?”
They didn’t. I ordered hot tea for me and an iced chocolate drink for him. He brought out two plastic containers filled with spaghetti, and then a third filled with bread sticks. He then brought out two sets of colorful utensils – two plastic spoons; two plastic forks.
“I ate my lunch at my work station so that I could buy the ingredients for this. I cooked this after work at the girls’ house. I told them you just threw random stuff into your frying pan so I wanted to cook for you this time. And you know how costly airport food is.”
“I know. Aww. Thank you.”
“And I bought this, too. Tada! It’s really yum.”
“Carrot cake! I’ve been craving for something sweet all week!”
“There you go. Cravings satisfied.”
I had found myself moping because he only gave me flowers that one time. But as I chewed on the spaghetti, as I took a bite from the cake, I realized how incredibly loved I was.