Sunday, June 25, 2006

Salamangkero 2

They say history repeats itself. At first, I thought the conjurers of such a notion were total idiots.

Once again, the summer solstice has come to pass. By itself, it was a very remarkable day, where the sun reigned in the sky for the longest time. To a sorcerer in a not-so-distant land, it was not only magical but also personal for it marks the day that he first began the slow process of dying. You see, while some optimists view birthdates as the moments when an individual begins living, some negativists maintain that it is actually the day a person begins dying. It's as pointless, really, as arguing whether the glass is half-full or half-empty when they both mean the same thing.

Though there were difficult times in his life where such a day is met with dread, for it marks yet another year of slow death, he, nonetheless, celebrated its annual return, in the hopes that the next year of his existence might bring more sunlight into his life.

You may very well remember that around these days, last year, a sequence of very dissapointing events flung a self-righteous sorcerer unto the very earth he stepped on. Today, the Fates, in their fair and just judgement, decided that one has had enough of their benevolence; the Earth Mother rained on his parade, so to speak.

Once more, one or two guests quite so suddenly dropped off the face of the earth. A family of five surmised that they could not make it and said so only at the last moment. With one or two others doing the same thing, the guest list was already halved. Not that the sorcerer minded but forehand knowledge of their absence might have prodded his satellite to move the gathering to a much more savory and appetizing environment more conducive to appreciation of the culinary arts.

Even before that unfortunate news, the guest list itself was quite pathetic. One comrade was out of town and could not make it. One acquaintance responded not to the invitation; it was quite the same with another friend. One particular person, who had such a mighty influence on his life declined, leaving only one other guest left. That last person, who was also of great, but subtle, influence, to the sorcerer's craft, could not make it for the Earth Mother was pissed off.

In their place were several unexpected guests. There was one family the sorcerer's satellite had summoned, whom the sorcerer totally despised, not only that night. There was also a young woman who was quite friendly, charming the sorcerer into divulging some of the tenets of his craft. While the sorcerer initially presumed that it was because of his rather peculiar attire and hoped this woman believed that clothes make the man, he was most sorely disappointed to discover that the impetus of this interest was only the fact that the craft was unfamiliar to this young lady. With that, the hopes of perfecting the art of charming a potential life partner flew out of the window.

Finally, his best friend (Coca Cola and Sol de España, red wine) was not present at the celebration. In its stead was a stranger (Pineapple juice and Finlandia, vodka). Though he abhors pineapples, despite their high bromelein content, he, nonetheless, gave it a shot. In moments, liquid fire began coursing through his innards, leaving a sweet after-scent contrasting a bitter after-taste.

I'm not blaming the Fates; had they not smiled at me in one crucial moment of my life, I would have greater problems like food and shelter. I would not hold a grudge against the beloved Earth Mother: she who gently blew a cool breeze whenever I'm broiling under the sun. I would not judge vodka as an Ersatz friend; perhaps pineapple juice was not its best companion. I'd rather not spit venom at my senpai; he probably was telling the truth and, otherwise, I still would have understood the awkward scenarios he might have conjured. It would be best not to brew acrimony towards my mentor; I've done far worse to him. I really wouldn't perform a guilt trip trick on my friend; I'd most probably mildly worry and ask her, "Where the hell have you been?" and I'd probably add an "Are you okay?" depending on my mood.

Still, I could not help but feel resentful of the fact that this horrendous day was an encore of a similar date. In Straight Time, a novel I once read, a criminal fugitive by the name of Max Dembo once robbed a Chinese shop simply due to a dire need of funds. Later, in a dark and secluded alley, when he counted the loot, he came up with a very small figure. He wanted to scream in the frustration that he had robbed the downtrodden. While I may not share the same sentiment, I could recall one emotion I shared with his this day: he cried out into the night, not because of some evil her recognized but simply because of the complex tangle of human existence.

A joke from an online forum once read: Nobody dies a virgin, because life screws everyone.

In this great unholy hour,
impelled by your vast power,
I indulged my secret whims
whilst you trampled on my dreams.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Gloria Hallelujah!

It's the wind blowing free, it's the end of a slope,
It's a bean, it's a void, it's a hunch, it's a hope.
And the riverbank talks of the Waters of March,
It's the end of the strain, it's the joy in your heart.

-Waters of March

Simply put, everything went well.

Two days ago, I was trying my best to muffle the rapid sound of thump-thumping somewhere within my ribcage, lest it be loud enough that I bring people into a fitful sleep, causing my untimely demise. I believe that, had I been Catholic, I would have been praying the rosary then, with all its fifteen mysteries, twenty if you count the Luminous mysteries I have only sor ecently discovered. However, I was very much without religion that, in these terrible times of terryfying tumultous turbulent torrential troubles, I am deprived of the blissful enjoyment of clinging onto a fictitous entity.

I did, however, make a wish upon some unseen star, whispered my dreams to the wind, pleaded with the Fates and even bargained with the Earth Mother herself. I do find it disturbingly strange that I, skeptic of the Roman Catholic religion for lack of convincing proof of the truth they so love to preach, would be given to the same habit not by detail but by principle. I, however, digress.

I did get re-admitted back into the College of Engineering and given a second chance. Truth be told, it was, as I have been explicitly informed, my last chance. Nonetheless, I am so grateful that my elation has overwhelmed whatever sarcastic comment I probably would have brewed back then. Oh what a great relief flooded into me, that I would no longer have suitable cause to run away from home, not that I really wanted to. It was as heavenly as a strong laxative is to one who had been so plagued by constipation for the last three days.

With such a great weight off my shoulders and such a light-headed emotion pulling me by the ears into the clouds, I finally made sense of a very confusing song I have once heard before. The song Waters of March, while very much grating to the ears of the English purist in that most of the statements do not have any predicate at all, was very soothing, to say the least. Now, I know that an intense elation of this magnitude would also tend to spew random nouns and phrases in a very poor attempt to describe the indescribable.

It rained that afternoon and it literally soaked me right to the skin, despite the fact that I have an umbrella, for the raindrops slanted this way and that every now and then. Still, I was not disturbed by it because, if the Earth Mother herself were, for some unfathomable reason beyond the laws of physics governing the grand design, to have anything to do with me re-admission to the college, the least I could do was allow her the luxury of pelting me with high speed projectiles of water; I doubt anyone else imitating that stunt with water balloons would have long to live.

The Fates, too, were not forgotten at all. I also allowed them the privilege of raining on my happy parade.

A writer once wrote, as writers are very much prone to do most of the time, in a novel called Out, about a man called Don Italo Volpone. The capo, or head, of the Volpone Mafia, he was very much given to gambling. He always carried with him a miniature roulette, to while some of his precious time away. In his left shirt pocket, directly over his heart, was a deck of playing cards. A time once came when a knife was thrown at him; it could also probably be a bullet, I do tend to forget things after quite a while. In the end, his life was saved by that deck of cards, the knife, or bullet, sil vous plait, pierced the Ace of Hearts dead-on. A little while later, while dealing with matters of someone else's life and death, he was tempted to spin the miniature roulette but changed his mind; it was not wise to test his luck.

In another book named River of Life, there was a story about a witch named Manuilikha and her daughter, whose name I forgot although I'm positive it has the letters O and A in it. The young woman gave a charming young man a reading on her cards and politely informed him of her predictions. When the man asked her to repeat the fortune-telling, she declined, looking anxiously at the door, saying it was not good to ask the Fates twice.

I, too, abide by this principle, which a part of me recognizes as absurd. For now, I'm quite done with reading horoscopes for four signs a day and divination by rune-casting when in great distress. The busy schedule ahead would tide me over well into the next few day that I doubt I will spend that time worrying about predicting the undpredictable future, which cannot be predicted, mind you. I would be busy, but at least, I'd also be safe.

É o vento ventando, É o fim da ladeira
É a viga, é o vão, Festa da cumeeira
É a chuva chovendo, É conversa ribeira
Das águas de março É o fim da canseira

-Aguas de Março

Monday, June 12, 2006


Three feathers to stall the inundation.
One Naga to bring it forth.
A thousand islands on the brink of oblivion.
One mortal to prove her worth.

The sorcerer once wrote a story about an island beyond all mortal sight. Everywhere about it, the waters rose up to meet the diving sky. It was a world in isolation, until the birth of its princess named Mana. Due to the effects of a devastating fate set into motion when she was born, she was forced to leave the island at the age of sixteen, clinging to the hope that there might be somewhere else she could reach beyond the horizon.

I, too, might be facing a similar fate, although I must say that the Fates themselves have nothing to do with it. I do feel the need to reach out into the world once more and blog about this because this might be the last chance I'd have to do so; within 36 hours, my life could change radically.

Allow me to shed some light into the nature of this purported cataclysm. I am in grave danger of being dismissed from the college of engineering. Simply put, if this disaster were to occur, I would have to spend two or three more years before I can finally graduate. For others, this might have been of no problem at all but to me, it means big trouble.

See, I have already missed my graduation and, though my parents took the news quite heavily, I daresay, they were understanding. However, my mother did impart a stern warning that this upcoming year will be the last I'd spend in the university. Were I to be delayed any more, I'll be completely on my own for, of course, I do have other siblings who could make better use of the funds I would have squandered.

Needless to say, I am quite obliged to them and forever grateful that they allowed me another chance. To add to my guilt, my mother once mention, during the last summer, that when I graduate, she'd send me to Macau on a vacation. At the moment, I am blacklisted by the national police, due to a debt that must be paid to what once was my scholarship. Either I work for my country for three and a half years, or I pay up my debt, before I could be allowed to fly overseas once more. She shrugged it off and said she'd pay for it.

It was with a gleam in my eye and a song in my heart that I pranced out to enlist in my delayed subjects when I found out that the repercussions of my actions for the past academic year made me ineligible for enrollment. As a matter of fact, I am dismissed from the college and my only hope is to appeal to the college to re-admit me, with certain conditions, of course.

I now hang by a thread, so to speak. It is all out of my hands now and the best I could do is wish that Lady Luck would smile at me, not with the manical grin killer clowns sometimes employ, but with the kind-hearted smile that almost says, "You damn lucky brat, I'll get you next time!" or, preferably, something much gentler than that.

If it does not go as expected, I suppose I would not be blogging for quite some time. If terrible news awats me, I do have a half-baked plan. I'd haul my ass and my closet into a bag, run away from home, find a job, crash with a few friends for the first week, find an apartment, room or at least, a respectable shelter and juggle both work and study until I graduate, fall into a coma, die, get nabbed or otherwise, disabled from doing my everyday tasks.

I'd probably shift to architecture, for I have still retained some of, what I might humbly refer to as, my extraordinary drafting skills. By that, I meant that my talent is above average, though by no means superb. It will probably be as hellish as how one of my acquaintances described it but it's the best thing I'd have going for me.

I know it's gonna be a great leap for someone who's been living behind sheltered walls all his life. Heck, I don't even know some of the cities in our own metropolis! Still, I couldn't bear the guilt of facing my parents once more and telling them I had failed once again.

It is the cage that confined you.
It is the shell that sheltered you.
It is the hedge that isolated the forest.
It is the moments between work and rest.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Lost City of Antlantis

Ants are magnificent creatures. It is common knowledge that these arthropods can lift up to 50 times their own weight. In other words, a 110-pound person like me would have to lift a hefty 5500 pounds to accomplish the same feat. Put another way, a 120-pound person would be lifting 6000 pounds to duplicate the same task. To illustrate further, a 130-pound person should lift 6500 pounds of weight to be able to lift 50 times his or her own weight like an ant. Ain't it amazing?

This day, I discovered an anthill in our backyard. To be more precise, it was more sprawling than it was tall so the term ant-terrain might be more suited. It was early morning and I saw none of its residents running about, which is probably just as well considering the fact that being stung by numerous small creatures is of a very disagreeable nature, at least, in my opinion.

Did you know that, while most birds bathe in dust and water to clean parasites off their lovely feathers, a jay uses the acid made by ants. It stands on an ant's nest and lets hunderds of ants crawl all over itself. Another kind of bird, the Rufous woodpecker of Asia, lay its eggs in an ants' nest. I would have told you about the pangolin, a nocturnal scaly anteater, but revealing its relationship with the ants are something that is not to my taste. I really doubt anyone needed anymore of such flavorful data.

I had planned to get a camera to the scene, for I would really love to share it in this blog. Imagine, my first photo blogged ever! Unfortunately, I was deprived of this wondrous opportunity for, apparently, my mother had also discovered the same anthill. Later on in the day, I found the colony in flames, for my mother had summoned an underling to dump dry and flammable rubbish on top of the magnificent structure and set a flame to it, trash, organisms and all. I know my brows have always been knotted but I think I felt it furrow even more as it usually does when I witness the genocide of Mother Nature's children.

However, I believe the ants will survive. I know that a colony of ants is more united than the Government and the opposition. I know that their civilization will start rebuilding the former glory of their magnificent abode instead of tarrying by calculating how much monetary units' worth was damaged and then debating how resources and funds must be allocated. I suppose that a ravaged country would be more than pleased to sit down, have a cup of coffee (or tea, if you please) and talk how nice the weather is, before arguing whether funds should be swallowed by defenses (that disasters like these might never happen again), squandered by information campaigns (that everyone may know what really happened and what to do in case it happens again. After all, knowledge is power), guzzled by rebuilding efforts (we need our offices, right now. Without a proper working environment, the government cannot do its job) or simply declared non-existential (we don't need funds; what we need is faith, unity, prayer, a moment of silence, external aid, heroics, etc.) Ah, the complicated marvels made possible by the striking difference that our brains have more lobes and cortices than ants'.

Ants needed no form of identification to track the members of the same species worldwide so I doubt they really were that united. There are also wars between colonies when resources become scarce so I don't think they also understood the meaning of world peace. To them, such things are non-essential. Maybe it is their simple-mindedness that enables them to understand only one thing, they needed each other to survive.

These six-legged (five or four, if crippled badly) creatures are found almost anywhere. Perusing the special section of my room labelled "Paranormal" I unearthed, after a deadly battle with dust and crumbling pages, a note where I conveniently jotted down something I am now glad I jotted down. On September 8, 2005, I have found ants on my left shoe. Not just one, not two, not even three, not four, certainly not five, also not six, most probably not seven, I'm sure not eight, maybe not nine... I could go on and on. They nearly filled half of my shoe and had I gone ahead and put my foot in, I'm sure more than a hundred of Mother Nature's children would have been squished dead by then.

As it was, I ended up very startled so I threw the shoe out of my room, shook off the lump of ant-ness inside and torched the crawling mass. So yeah, more than a hundred of Mother's children died horrific deaths then. Still, I'd have been amazed after that genocide, I still find ants everywhere. They had the strength of Jews, homosexuals and political dissidents during the rule of der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler.

So go ahead, stop and crush that red ant that's been painfully bugging you between your toes and you'd find yourself overwhelmed by its comrades. Examine them closely through a magnifying lens during high noon of a clear sunny day and, twenty years from now, you might find yourself a case of spontaneous human combustion (yes, the ants are responsible for that. 'took me long enough to figure it out). Burn down their nest and your lawyer would be most delighted to file arson charges on someone who hates your guts, or vice versa.

Who knows, maybe thirteen millenia from now, ants would rule over the earth.

It was a gloomy sunny day
in the cursed month of May
when one of my moms burned my sibs
and the other punched her in the ribs.