23 May 2007

eulogy for lost things + remembering franz

today is a sad day at my house, because i have officially lost something...

my coffeemaker.

it's officially dead.

whenever i make coffee lately, i notice something dripping below the counter at basa ang sahig. when i tried an experiment, my suspicion was right all along -- may tama na yung coffeemaker at tumutulo na siya. kaya goodbye ever na sa morning brewed ritual for now. sa sama ng loob, napapasok tuloy ako ng maaga sa opis at dito na ko magkakape. at magba-blog.

so here we are.

kung kilala mo ako at alam mo ang halaga ng ritwal na kape, lalo na ng brewed kape sa umaga ko o bago magsimula ang araw at trabaho, alam mong malaking kawalan ito. salamat sa pakikipagsimpatiya. naaalala ko noong mga unang panahon ng kalayaan naming magkakaibigan bilang independent university grads living in their own spaces away from their families, ang simpleng katotohanang nabanggit ng isa kong kasambahay noon ay "hay, eto ang perfect breakfast -- yosi at kape." bow. how simple, real and honest. hay, those were the days.

sayang lang at walang malapit na matinong kapihan dito sa unibersidad para madaanan man lamang bago pumunta dito, makapag-take out ng malaking lalagyan ng coffee mocha or something. hm. kaya nakakahinayang talaga ang kawalang ito.

sabagay, marami na ring napagsilbihang moments ang coffeemaker na yun. mga intimate twosomes in the morning, mga loud crowds in the afternoon and evening, mga moments of solitary solicitudes, solipsisms and so on and so forth. so okay na rin na retired na siya sa ngayon. tulad ng ibang bagay sa buhay, i can move on.

*

speaking of moving on, i was stuck in a rut for days now because my instrument is not working well. was trying to tinker with it with this cheap screwdriver i bought somewhere, sm yata as usual, but it couldn't handle the super tight screws. but when i tried using my handy thick swiss knife, it worked! so we're back in business and about to move on. screw driver lang pala.

it's funny because as i was disassembling my thing last night, thoughts of how that swiss knife came to me suddenly 'flashbacked' in my mind. that has some kind of weird and funny but somehow touching story behind it. i don't know if i was able to tell it here before but in any case, here goes.

the knife was given to me by the late national artist franz arcellana. i met him making tambay at the creative writing center, now known as the institute of creative writing, sa CAL, when i started my MA in the late '90s. so we always hung out with fellow writers kasi tambay din ako ng lugar na iyon dati, even worked there as some sort of graduate assistant of sorts, especially sa workshops.

sir franz then started giving me small stuff, ewan ko kung out of charity or dahil naghahanap siya ng isa pang anak, apo or something. i don't know what's with me and lolo figures. loves nila ako. he knew i was a photographer dahil photodoc at videdoc ang job ko sa national workshops, at may unused photographer's jacket daw siya kaya ibinigay sa akin. so salamat. tapos alam niyang scriptwriter ako so binigay niya sa akin yung libro ni ricky lee na bigay ni ricky lee sa kanya. hm... pinilit ko pa nga siyang lagyan ng dedication kasi yung dedication na nandun, gawa ni ricky para sa kanya. para hindi akalain ng madla na ninakaw ko sa kanya yun, napilit ko rin naman siyang maglagay ng kaunting salita na para sa akin, kahit parang labag sa loob niyang mag-autograph. sabi pa niya, in that original 1950s american accent straight from the thomasites "i don't know what to say!" sa totoo lang, natutuwa ako kapag nag-iinggles siya. kasi nga para akong nanonood ng mga americana-type old films na wala pang bahid ng street slang or twang ang diction. hanep lang sa uniqueness. wala yang mga call center accents na yan, pa-epek lang yan sa kanya. tatawanan lang niya yan ngayon.

binigyan din niya ko ng ilang libro at iba pang magazines, mga ganun,a t kung anu-ano pang anik-anik. di ko rin alam kung mukha akong dugyut writer noon na dino-donasyunan niya ng mga bagay-bagay, pero sige lang, tanggap lang ng tanggap. minsan din, dahil sa freelance writer ako sa mga magazines, ako naman ang nagbibigay sa kanya ng mga magazines para mabasa niya ang mga napa-publish kong short stories at articles. at binabasa naman niya. so happy lang, dahil gawain naman naming mga writer ito.

hanggang sa isang araw, dineklara niya sa cwc na siya na daw ang magiging thesis adviser ko. hala, e wala pa nga ako sa kalahati ng pag-aaral nun, may adviser na! pressure. i said okay...pero gusto kong sabihin na "lolo, ang gagawin ko e lesbian stories na may erotica, kekerihin mo ba yun?" pero wit, dedma na. sabagay, naisip ko, kung sa postmodernity lang ng pagsusulat ng fiction (putcha e basahin niyo kaya yung "Yellow Shawl" short niya!) e swak na ko sa kanya, kaya siguro dedma na sa adbokasiya side ng writing at stick to the literary na lang when i deal with it later. so binigyan niya ko ng kopya niya ng bound thesis na fiction ng isa niyang dating advisee, pag-aralan ko daw, for starters. so pinag-aralan ko nga naman. so in short, inangkin na niya talaga ko bilang "student" kasi officially, hindi ko siya naabutan bilang guro doon e. sayang nga. hindi na kasi siya nagtuturo ng mga panahong iyon.

i was flattered and happy with the attention this lolo was giving me then, but then medyo na-creepy-han din ako ng konti kasi parang lagi niya kong gustong kasama. di ko alam kung bakit. until one day, when my friends and i were walking towards the CAL parking lot after the successful thesis defense of my fictionist acquaintance, franz faced me squarely, and he put his hands down squarely on my shoulders, and smiled, and said, in effect "i don't know what it is i feel, but i feel this closeness with you" or something like that. jeezus, di ko alam gagawin ko. so nginitian ko lang siya, and then he had that honest serene smile in his face, but his eyes smiled sadly, too. i felt sad that i felt his sadness, but i truly appreciated, well, somewhat, his attempt of connecting with my soul.

when i told my writer friend, sabi niya baka reincarnation ako ng kanyang lost love, ng immortal beloved niya or whatnot. of course, being writers, tinaggap namin at in-entertain ang notion na ito as valid. pero weird pa rin kahit papaano. wala namang pedopilya mode pero weird lang. simple, plain weird.

but after that episode, i never showed up there again nor made tambay at the places na alam kong nariyan lang siya sa tabi-tabi. i don't know why din. just gut instinct, i think...

i never knew what became of him after that, but it saddened me to read in the news one day that he was confined in a hospital, hiding his sickness from his family and all, and eventually died. that was 2002. i tried to bring myself to go to his wake, but like with NVM's, i never made it past the gate of the chapel. never made it inside. there was an honest sense of loss that i didn't understand, felt it inside, so i turned back and headed home, and mourned silently and prayed for his soul's honest rest.

after that, whenever i pass by the cwc, people there would tell me "huy hinahanap ka ni mrs. arcellana." i thought, sheesh, baket? i can't remember kung may sasabihin daw o may ibibigay, o baka gusto lang niya ako makilala sa di malinaw na kadahilanan, pero that meeting never happened anyway. wala lang. and that story ended like that. hanging. but i didn't mind.

strange to have that story attached to a certain thing. that's why sometimes i don't agree with calling some things "non-living things" like in biology. minsan kasi, may energies na nara-rub off sa isang bagay, sa loob ng bahay lalo na, o kung anuman. kaya nga minsan, ang isang bagay na may kadikit na mga memorya o emosyon tulad nito ay niriritwalan ng ilang tao, para mangyari ang gusto nilang mangyari sa emosyon o memorya na kadikit nito. may kilala akong writer noon na kada new year daw, umaakyat siya sa baguio mag-isa at sinusunog niya ang mga notebook journals niya bilang simbolo o ritwal ng pagtatapos ng taon at ng emosyon na kaakibat ng taong nagdaan, at para magsimula ng bagong taon sa bagong pahina, so to speak.

kanya-kanya lang tayo ng coping, dealing at selective retention of memories, i guess. ganito ang sa akin. at sa ilang panahon noon, may mga ganitong nangyari sa iba kong kakilala na nakaapekto rin sa akin.

until now, i still don't know what the purpose of that whole episode with franz is, kung may silbi siya somewhat o wala, may aral na matututunan o anecdote lang siya na ikukuwento ko sa mga tao tuwing susubukan nilang arborin yung swiss knife ko. pero kung anu pa man, nagpapasalamat din ako sa cosmos na once in this lifetime, i met that super talented man who was willing to take me as a student, just like that. maybe later on i will stumble upon the purpose, but for now, i am happy to stick with the memories, and i will certainly never let go of that swiss knife.

3 comments :

  1. naalala ko may we borrow your husband ni graham greene. at ikaw si poopy.

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  2. wow, mother, thanks for sharing. that was a great read for me. nakakatuwa na nakakasenti na life is weird.

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  3. I agree with Indi, that was a great read. What a sweet story. Bittersweet actually, pero I'd rather take the sweet with me. :)

    I really like your new blog. :)

    - Ninay

    ReplyDelete