Happy Birthday, A.

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Everytime the wind blows, it takes the ocean with it. But always, always, the water comes rolling back to his first love, the shore.

~~~

I was busy painting my brick yellow. I stopped and admired my work. I stepped back and admired the other bricks filled with greens, blues, pinks, whites, and a cross in the middle. I wrote my name in my brick. That’s when I heard Tito Gani say, “O bakit wala ka dito? Ako na ang bahala sa pamasahe mo, basta pumunta ka lang dito.” A few minutes later, you were there. I did not know you then, but everyone else seemed they do. You gathered us in and we formed a circle around you. You let us close our eyes. You played your guitar and I listened intently. You dictated the words, “Forever”. Now, when I sing that song, I remember you. I remember you standing in that covered court, holding a guitar, singing, passionately serving the Lord with your everything.

~~~

That same afternoon, I gathered my things and prepared to walk home. You were standing by the door and said your goodbyes as people went out. You turned your head to me and asked, “Ikaw lang mag-isa?” I nodded shyly. “Paano ka uuwi?” “Maglalakad lang po.” “Okay ka lang? Gusto mo ihatid na kita?” “Okay lang po ako, malapit lang po ang bahay ko.” “Sure ka ha?” Another nod.

As I walked home, I thought about how I looked. Of course, I must’ve looked like I needed a good wash, all alone, with paint on my face, my hair sticking out, my paint brush hanging out of my pocket. Or maybe people are just being nice. I thought about how people could be so kind to strangers; to people they don’t even know. How you could be so kind to me.

~~~

I was sitting in front of a room. Looking around, half was filled with people I know. My best friend bellowed with laughter beside me over something I did not hear. After the seminar, people mingled with each other, holding their drinks. Then I heard my name. I walked to a group huddled together as Tito Jun was saying, “Kayo ang magiging first ever Nova band ng Singles.” Pointing to me, he said, “Ikaw, si Dang, si Sam at Jerome as vocalists. Si Boyet, sa bass. Si Kulot ang lead, Jerome, rhythm, at ikaw,” everyone looked at you, then, and I noticed you for the first time, “sa drums.”

A few practices later and I admired you. You play so well! I did not know it then, A, that afternoon at the court. Did not know it when you said, “We are all brothers and sisters here in the community. Brothers should take care of the girls like how you would take care of your own sister.” Did not know it when you played your guitar. You are awesome and I did not know it. All these years, A, you are awesome, and I know it now.

~~~

Like the ocean being tossed away by the wind, you came and went. You slept by day and worked by night. I see you now. We take a photo together, my hair all curly and yours, too short. I don’t see you for a long time. I see you, again. We went to a mountain in Tagaytay. Sam took a photo of you and me, with your crooked smile and my brown dress. I listen as you told me your desire of going back to school. And you did. I did a research paper about the students at your school. You accompanied me a few times, maybe two. We roamed around and talked about fish balls and this weird smell until we forgot to get my ID. You got it for me.

A few more times we went out for lunch, maybe two. We talked about all the people we know. We talked about how he is connected to her, and how we both know him. We talked about our history. I don’t see you after that.

~~~

The thing is, A, everybody knows. Even your brother knows (of course it was accidental, but still). He said, “Ipagpatuloy mo lang ‘yan. Suportahan kita.” They would take a photo of us. They would conspire so we could sit beside each other. The knowing smile on our faces. The sideway glances. Everybody knows, maybe, except you.

~~~

I see you now. We played together for an event. I forgot how good you were. I admire you, A, again. Again and again. Someone took a photo of you and me – with your long hair and the silly smile on my face.

~~~

The shore lay there, quietly, patiently, never demanding for anything in return. I have always been here, A. You came and went, and everytime you go, you take with you a part of me. But I was always here, I am, and I always will be. Dear A, happy birthday.

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