I walk through the long schoolroom questioning: should I wear my hood in class on the fifth of January or should I wear my hood in class on the fifth of January? It’s a tricky question, given that we live in a democratic society. By democracy, I mean being surrounded by people who are as free as you are they’d sing Itaktak Mo over and over until you’d feel odd enough you’d be moved to remove your hood. Scandal has two sides after all: baring your head below, and covering your head above.
I do not wish to move the world. Not that I won’t dare, but how could I disturb the universe given the size of my breasts and my booty? A few years back, a fiction teacher said I was a promising writer. By that I think he meant I have the great talent for putting off one article after another for the next day. My reason is a humble one: I write because I want to play god; so then I could pare my fingernails.
Writing is not easy. True. How could it be given that sitting too much could strain your back? Besides, we need to confront every day the hard facts of life: what price tomatoes? who killed the porkchops? and how different is a quickie from a full-bodied fornication? I have no answers. How could I? After all I’m a modern brained Homo Sapiens and like any, am bugged greatly by the futility of a modern Homo Sapiens’s effort to comprehend this world.
And so each day I wait for divine illumination. I have never seen one. That’s because I was raised a Protestant and the problem with being raised a Protestant is that we tend to smirk at Catholic miracles all the time. Take my mom, who does not believe in bloody Marys and levitating priests. Everything seemed to be working fine when, months before New Year’s Eve of 2000, she ciphered from Revelation that Christ was to come eve of the new millennium. Don’t ask me how, but by October she was hoarding boxes of matches, salt, rice, and gasoline. Came the last day of 1999, there was enough supply to last five people through an eternity of darkness.
Mom sat us around the dinner table and made us wait.
The clock struck twelve. Firecrackers were blown and fireworks lighted the sky. The clock struck one. No star fell— they should have fallen: to signal the descent of Christ.
Holy Christ, did he not come! Imagine then the disappointment of my mom who, without a doubt, stood next to God in the Great Chain of Being. How could God dare snob her and exchange her for the people who were in the lowest rung of the holy scale— my father’s mother, for example? My brother swore, though, that she had fallen asleep when Christ showed up by her window.
(What’s great about Mom is that she’s not bothered by modern questions at all. She was born in the middle ages, raised during the Reformation, and lives in the days of our Lord. And so help me God.)
See, I share with my mom my great disability to see divine revelations. What more could be tragic than this.
Raging at my disability, I pace back and forth the long schoolroom. Then realizing the absurdity of my walking back and forth, I feel relieved. The feeling of being absurd is a modern feeling, the sellable theme of the century. Read the latest chick flick. Those about female journalists bloating their asses and who’d trip so often they couldn’t tell an ass from a dimwit Hollywood producer.
Of course we have our own J. Zafra, who’s also fat and who wears weird specs so she could write six books about her fat and her weird specs. Very absurd, indeed. This thing called writing from the body.
Of course, we forgive them. After all, how could we dare forget their genius? J. Zafra, for instance, has long known how to make another of herself before the geneticists have cloned Dolly. Fact is, she has made three of her: Me, Myself, and I. All fat, all wearing weird specs, all self-generating into more sets of Me, Myself, and I.
Given the fat ladies before me, and the suicidal romantics before me, how could I write something new, something that would make Shakespeare wish he was born after me? We have indeed reached a literature of exhaustion. True. It’s not at all alarming until I remembered I need to stretch this piece into six pages and am having a hard time reaching four.
Alarming, but not a problem. What really ails me as a writer is that I should write in relation to all the dead writers of the past. How could I know them all when I’m even having a problem remembering the names of classmates in my essay class? Besides, who wants to talk to a guy who wrote the way he did in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, or Sir Patrick Spence?
(No, that was not what he meant at all. That was not it, at all).
After the strolls and the sunsets and the sachets of Extra Joss, I see the divine light. Four decades and three years ago, a society called Vienna Circle killed the Author. So the living could write not only with a full consciousness of the present, but of the past.
(That was not it at all. Ain’t what it meant, at all).
And so I have come to a crossroad watching two trees in the low sky and the train zipper down its track. I am at ease here with alien people clutching their purses. Teacher, mother, suffer me not to mock myself while I wander through the wasteland of Quezon City.
UP Min alumna Cecille Laverne is finishing her MA Creative Writing in UP Diliman.