Cooking Rice

The water is boiling. But the rice is still cooking.

It’s agonizing, really. My hungry tummy wants to get its fill of fluffy white rice, but it must wait a couple minutes more.

Maybe five minutes. Or six. Or seven. Or eight.

I pace back and forth. What to do, what to do, what to do?

Fry an egg, that’s what I’ll do. A radiant sunny-side up would surely brighten up this rainy evening.

Rain. Thank God it finally rained. The past days have been dreadful (weather-wise) with the thick humidity and the air of laziness hanging about.

The egg is done. The rice still isn’t. What’s taking the rice so long?

Tap, tap, tap. I should probably wash the frying pan. That would kill some time. And, after dinner, that would be one less utensil for me to wash.

Utensils. Is a frying pan a utensil? Isn’t it some sort of cutlery or something? Whatever. I’d ask Flynn Rider and he’d say that it’s a deadly weapon. But this frying pan won’t get into any tangled mess – it’s going to stay here in the kitchen where it belongs.

Frying pan’s done. The rice still isn’t. What is up with that?

Well, it’s almost done. But it still needs to sit out a few minutes more.

I turn off the gas range.

If I head off to my room and sing a couple of songs, would the rice be okay by the time I’m through?


Hungry I come to You for I know You satisfy… We are hungry, we are hungry, we are hungry for more of You.

Wow. Excellent choice of songs, Mari.

Sigh. Why must the rice take so long? Along with so many other stuff?

What do I do here in the waiting? What do I do with my unsatisfied heart?

Unsatisfied is right. I’m so ready to eat dinner. I’m so ready to take on that project. I’m so ready to do my VIVA (wait, am I?). And I’m so ready to take on that dream job (again – wait, am I?). I’m so ready to march up that stage and receive that diploma, but right now…

I. Must. Wait. Still.

So what do I do here in the waiting?

Get closer to God, I know.  (Doing so, doing so…)

Well, the rice should be cooked by now.

Kain. :)

Fluffy white rice.

Piano Keys

Piano keys. Blacks, whites, minors and majors.

I do not know what to do with them. They all look the same to me, but I know each key produces a unique sound, a sound that I know corresponds to some note in some piece of sheet music.

A sheet music. There is one sitting in front of me. But the notes, the rests, the bars, and the time signatures all appear to me to be just an undecipherable jumble of lines and code. How I wish I could decrypt everything written there and just translate everything into beautiful, beautiful music.

I try to hit a key. Dongk. Blech. What a horrible, horrible sound. I try to hit another. Dungk. That’s even worse. Dongk-dungk-ungk-langk-tengk-mongk. Jungk. That last key just about summarizes my whole attempt at music making. Junk.

The keys are blurry and my eyes can no longer make out the piece of paper that they term as a sheet music. Music? How could anyone make music from such a cryptic thing?

A tear falls. I wipe it away.

But then another one escapes my eyes, and soon there is a cascade of them falling down my cheeks. If I’m not careful, they will soak, seep through, and possibly destroy the fragile piano keys.

Let them destroy it. I don’t care. I will cry my heart out and my frustration away.

“Child? Are you okay?”

I can hear the voice of my Father. I do not answer. I don’t want him to know how incredibly frustrated I am right now.

“Child? Would you like to tell me what’s the matter?”

He is persistent. I pretend that I do not hear him still.

“Child, I’d like to help you out, if that’s alright with you.”

His voice is soft and patient. And right now, it is just a simple whisper, but I can hear him clearly. He has already sat down beside me and now he is looking at me intently.

“I’d like to help you out, dearest.”

Carefully, he starts playing a beautiful melody. My tears begin to subside and I steal a glance at him and his fingers which are gracefully dancing over the blacks and whites of the piano keys.

“It’s simple really, my dear.”

He takes both of my hands and places them over his. He starts playing again. With my hands on top of his, he plays a sweet, sweet melody. My fingers dance along with his and I feel like I’m playing the melody too.

As the melody is played out, he starts to sing as well. “Tears in your eyes, questions in your mind – how many times do I have to tell you? That I am for you, I know what you’re going through? Know that I’ll never leave you nor forsake you. I’m with you, I’ll see you through.”

I know that song. “And together we will soar high above every storm… my wings shall hold you, my strength, sustain you… my love shall carry you through… and we will soar…”

The music continues to play. He and I continue to sing. The blacks and whites of the piano no longer seem so hateful. And I can now see the sheet music clearly. I realize that the song that we are singing is the one written on that piece of paper.

The music gently fades away and makes room for another.

My Father looks at me, smiles gently, and says, “We’ll do this together, my child.”

We’ll do this together.

And with my fingers still over his, we play some more.

The Painter

There is a painter sitting on a park bench across me. He is a regular here, just as I am. Every day he comes to that same spot, sits on that same bench, takes out the same materials from the same bag – and paints.

I look at him for a moment and, for possibly the nth time, observe his semi-strange demeanour.

He is unlike many of the city locals. His messy pony tail and stubby goatee exhibit his non-conformist approach to life and his rugged apparel affirms his simple and uncomplicated way of living. He has somewhat sunken cheeks, somehow giving away the possibly poor state of his wallet. Yet a close look at the fire and light in his eyes shows how he is most probably unbothered by it.

I sit here – curious – and I watch him take his palette, grab some paint, and start mixing the colours.

Carefully he does it, as he contemplates and decides on his subject for the day. His previous works, lying in that spot beside him, reveal creations of a man who – though having to leave some sort of past behind – is evidently pushing persistently onward to see the realization of some sort of dream.

His works. There is a colourful picture of a cluster of teenagers laughing and joshing around the park lake, the joy in their hearts captured by the painter’s choice of vibrant colours. I had watched how he had looked merrily at those teenagers, yet painted with a somewhat nostalgic smile.

There is also a mini-masterpiece of a simple family having a simple picnic, their glowing faces warm, blissful, and radiant. I had looked away when I noticed how tears seemed to fill his eyes when his brush strokes transferred into the canvas the image of that little boy crawling up his mummy’s lap.

And then there is a portrait of a young woman resting on a bench. His strokes perfectly capture her delicateness, her sweetness, and her gentleness. Yet I had observed his semi-anguished faraway look as he ever so carefully worked to fashion the face of a woman who – though painted to sit at that certain park bench – wasn’t actually there.

I wonder what he will paint this time.

I am surprised because there is fresh fire in his eyes. I see him glancing at a boy flying his kite with his daddy. I look on as he takes his brush and starts to paint. Different emotions flash through his eyes, but the flame within them is constant and evident. He finishes his painting and he sits there, holding his canvas with a satisfied smile.

My lips curl upwards as well and I get up, realizing the amount of time that I had spent watching. But then I see an old gentleman approach the painter, take an inquisitive look at the paintings, and ask curiously, “Are these your paintings?”

I sit down again.

“Yes they are mine.” A conversation. A quiet exchange goes between the two. I see life in the gentleman’s eyes as he mentions the words “masterpiece”, “talent”, “teacher”, “opportunity”, and “son”. I see light in those of the painter as he utters the phrases “thank you”, “is that so?” and “what a great opportunity.”

The gentleman shakes the rugged painter’s hands. The conversation has ended.

“Bring those paintings to my house next weekend. I’ll be sure to give you an honourable sum by then. And by that time, my son will be prepared to meet his new teacher.”

The painter gives a grateful bow. His countenance reveals that of a man whose dreams – despite the sacrifices and the insurmountable odds – are now coming into fulfilment. He packs up his brushes, his paintings, and his materials, and bids the place goodbye, knowing that by the next weekend, he will be stepping on a newer, higher ground.

He walks away.

I rise, and walk away as well.

Semi-Random Scribble

Semi-random scribble. Ugh. A posting caused by insomnia. Well, anyway. Here goes. This is “The Book.”

The Book

Buried. Hidden. Forgotten. It’s been a long time since I have held this book. I’ve almost forgotten about it. Almost forgotten that it existed. Because I had hidden it behind all the other books in my bookcase. Buried it under all the dust and cobwebs.

But now I’m forced to take it out once again. Forced to let the stories see daylight, forced to read out the tales yet again.

I really don’t want to. But I have to.

I hold the dust-covered volume in my hands. It is a fairytale. Or more accurately, a collection of fairytales.

I take a seat, a mug of blackcurrant flavored tea in one hand, the book in another. I take a good look at the book. I let in a deep breath and, gingerly, I begin to finger through its long forgotten pages.

My eyes land on one familiar page. A humble maidservant stands out as the protagonist. Her eyes are full of hopes and dreams. She has heard of Cinderella stories, and she is certain that one day, her fairy godmother would come, transform her into a princess, and then whisk her to that royal ball, where she would meet and fall in love with the most charming of prince charmings.

But the fairy godmother never comes. And prince charming falls for another girl – that girl whose dainty foot fits into that tiny crystal slipper.

I leaf through the pages once again.

This time, I stop as the name of a wicked step-sister catches my eye. She is angered. She is in fury. She has never felt so betrayed.

Oh sure. She always knew that the prince would end up with her naïve step-sister. She always knew that he’d pick the beauty over her. But she still couldn’t help but feel enraged.

Not at the prince. But at herself. Because she had allowed herself to hope beyond hope.

I leave that story behind and move on to another.

The name of a princess fills this page. She is locked in a tower. Patiently waiting for her prince to come. She busies herself by learning the arts, by devouring literature, by cooking up culinary wonders. She prepares herself without meaning to prepare herself.

But alas. Her pure and beautiful nature catches a wizard’s eye.

He relentlessly pursues her, though she relentlessly tells him that the time – not to mention her prince – has not yet come.

I quickly leave that page behind.

I thumb through the rest of the pages, at times bursting into laughter, at times bursting into tears.

I’ve forgotten all those stories. But now, reading through the dusty book’s pages – I begin to breathe out a sigh of relief and thanksgiving, knowing that those tales are now simply that – mere tales.

A newer tale is brought into mind. A tale written inside a book which, incidentally, is hidden as well.

But not buried. And dear me, never forgotten. But it is kept inside a chest. A beautiful, beautiful chest. One with a lock and key.

Unlike the dusty book, I do not know what tale the newer book contains. But I know the story is being written out, even as I type these words out. I am tempted to break the chest open, tempted to take a look at what is going on in that book – but that would just ruin everything. The chest. The book. The tale.

And I know that one day, someone will give me the key. And then I’ll be able to take that book out. And then I’ll be able to read the words that were written. And anticipate those that are still to be.


Hold the Fruit Salad

Pineapple. Bits of sweet corn. Slices of apple, condensed milk and Nestle’s all purpose cream. Mix them together and you get a creamy and delightful fruit salad.

I sit, staring at the bowl of fruit salad and silently deliberate whether I should take a spoonful or not. Yes… no… yes… no. I pause. I poke at the salad and find my spoon being filled by the mixture of fruit and dairy. I lift the spoon to my mouth and pause. I start to think it over once again in my mind.

For one thing, it’s only 9:00 am. Nutritionists say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, one must eat a good and healthy breakfast to ensure that one has sufficient energy to get through the day. Still… A hearty bowl of fruit salad does not seem like a good choice for a healthy breakfast.

Oh sure. I could argue that it’s fruit. Fruit is healthy. Fruit is good for the body. There’s nothing wrong with eating fruit for breakfast.

But what about the dairy?

Oh sure again. I could argue that it’s dairy. Dairy is healthy. Dairy is good for the body. There’s nothing wrong with taking in dairy. After all, dairy contains calcium. Calcium is good.

But please. I’m just fooling myself. Fruit salad is a desert. And, even with its sweet and creamy goodness, a bowl of fruit salad would never substitute a good and hearty breakfast. Give me a bowl of rice. Give me a plateful of eggs and ham. No – hold the eggs and ham. Give me a plate of red eggs and tomatoes. Throw in a glass of milk with that.

I sigh. I’m still holding my spoonful but I return its contents to the bowl in front of me. Fruit salad is good. Fruit salad is healthy. And I should believe that that bowl of fruit salad is delicious in all its creamy goodness. But I choose to save it for later. Maybe I’ll have it after lunch instead.

So I stand up, head over to the fridge, and decide to cook for myself a decent meal.

Hold the fruit salad. I’ll have it later.

* * *

What’s with the fruit salad? Well, I’m speaking metamorphically here and I’m not talking about an actual bowl of fruit salad. Or maybe I am. Who knows?

But for those who have read A Page is Turned and got the message behind it – well, I believe that you had to do a lot of reading between the lines – because that blog was not all as it seemed to be. And the same is true for this blog. It may be about the fruit salad found in our freezer or it may not be about that fruit salad.

Well, just try to read between the lines. Because holding the fruit salad may not be all about food and good nutrition.

A Common Dilemma

(Another play with words. It’s much easier to express myself this way nowadays. LOL)

Anger. Hurt. Bitterness. Joy. Peace. Surrender. The artist stares at the canvas in from of him, unsure of what emotion he wants his painting to convey. The colors in his palette seem to suggest that he should let out dismal negative emotions, yet something in the artist’s heart tells him that he should express otherwise.

Minors. Majors. Sustains and Augmented 7ths. The musician sighs as she gently strums her guitar. She is
uncertain. She has a melody in mind, even words that would probably go well with that melody, but the song might sound too sad, too melodramatic. She’s content with the melody. But the verses – even the chorus – they seem too heartbroken. Deep inside, she wants the song to somehow convey a message of
hope, a message of love and joy, but every time that she would open her mouth, the only words that would come out are words of loneliness and extreme heartache.

Tension. Suspense. Light and easy reading. The writer is trapped. In front of him is a gigantic writer’s block. He is lost for words. Scratch that. He has a dictionary full of words waiting to be let out but he still can’t decide on the theme for his story. He’s tired of sad endings, but on the other hand, he can’t seem to
get himself to write a story that would end up happily. He’s too depressed for that. But a voice tells him that he should attempt to write one with a happy ending. But how? How, when the words running through his mind are “sorrow”, “melancholy”, “misery”, and “discontent”?

An artist, a musician, and a writer. All faced with a common dilemma. To go with what the situation tells
them to do or to go with what their heart tells them to do? Going along with the situation is easy… but following their hearts…? It would be a painful process. How on earth would the artist paint a picture full of joy when his palette contains colors which are anything but joyful? How can a musician create a song of hope when all that she can feel is hopelessness? And how can a writer write a happy story when the only words that he could muster up are words of discontent? How?

The artist has decided. It won’t be easy, but he gathers all his creative juices, puts his imagination at work and starts painting. He smiles as he sees the colors slowly blending in with each other. He paints painstakingly, making sure that the resulting picture will be one so full of joy, one so full of peace, one so full of happiness. He steps back and admires his work. He has done it.

The musician lets out a breath of determination. Surely there must be a fragment of joy hidden deep within her broken heart? She searches the deepest part of her soul, of her spirit and begins to sing. Slowly, her words blend in with the melody and a love song – a song of hope – begins to take shape. She continues, strumming her guitar with a renewed heart, and glows with life upon the completion of the song. She is more than satisfied.

The writer stands up and smashes his writer’s block. He goes back to words he has learned long ago, words like “bliss”, “good cheer”, “happiness”, and “content”. Slowly, his story begins to take shape. Slowly, his characters find themselves in a moving and inspiring plot. The writer rereads his finished draft and makes a few corrections. But his lips are curling up as his eyes run through the page. He has broken through.

The artist, the musician, and the writer have all been able to do it. If these people were able to do it, so can we. So can we.

Written at: ICS C-117

A Page is Turned

There is a book that is sitting in front of me. It is turned to a page, a portion stained with tears, covered
with doodles, and littered with a muddled mess of handwritings. The pages before that are not so different. The preceding pages contain sunny entries about love, new life and experiences with the Lord, dreams, hopes, and aspirations as well as dark entries about loneliness, insecurities, hurts, pains, and seasons of molting. Still, though the subjects may vary, the distinct jumble of tears, doodles, and messy handwritings stand out as a noticeable pattern.

I have stared at that page for quite a long time now. Yes, I have gone back to the pages before that page, relieved them and recollected the memories that have given birth to those entries… but as for that page… I have never seemed to get past that one page.

Don’t think that I haven’t tried getting past that page. I’ve tried turning the pages but somehow the wind kept blowing me back to that page. Or else the page would suddenly become stuck, as if it had decided by itself that it was the end of the book.

But I am determined. Right now, as I sit in front of that book, I am determined to turn the page – for good. If I have to burn that page as well as the pages before that – I would. Just so that I could finally move on to the rest of the story.

It’s harder than I imagined. I feel as if turning the page would mean that the past years of my life had been a waste. But I know that that is not the case. I would simply learn from those pages but be careful not to go back to the pattern that was inthose pages.

I take a deep breath, still slightly unprepared to see what the pages after that might contain. I reach out
to the book and turn the page – for good.

I am surprised as I see the new page in front of me being filled up slowly by a more mature handwriting. The handwriting seems pained at first, but it is no longer childish. Though there is a slight mark of tension, it is no longer girlish, but is womanly and becoming.

The doodles are gone. The tears? Some litter them along the way but I am assured that they are tears of a more mature woman. And the handwriting? The handwriting is now more together, as if the person writing has just gotten her life back.

The page has finally been turned. It’s a huge relief, though it is truly painful. But now, the rest of the pages are ahead of me and I am excited to see the contents of the rest of the book. I am happy and at peace. The page has been turned.

Written at: ICS C-117