There is something about men who love to dance even if dance does not exactly love them back in return. Dancing somehow imbues a man with a certain magnetism that would not normally be present. Maybe there is something about his being lost to the rhythm and beat of the music that calls out to us. Even a ridiculous-looking dancer will elicit a bit of admiration for such bravery despite his lack of finesse. The line, “Dance like no one is watching; love like you will never get hurt,” is very telling of how dance could be a basic human indicator of how one lives life. The individual who is able to let go of his inhibitions and insecurities through dance is also the individual who is not afraid to make mistakes; the individual who embraces life with gusto.
Wedding disasters make the best stories. When perfection is usually the goal, glitches in whatever form make up the bride’s worst nightmares. It all started when we wanted to hold our wedding in Camiguin, an idyllic island province off northern Mindanao. To get there from our hometown of Davao City, one may opt for the 50-minute plane ride or the 10-hour road trip to the port of Cagayan de Oro City from which one takes a 2-hour ferry ride to get to the island. Neither Jun nor I are from Camiguin. Ours is a tumultuous relationship replete with adventure, clashing wills, travels, betrayal, and passion. Thus, when we finally decided to take the plunge into matrimony, this island born of fire beckoned to us because it somehow represented who we are and what we have been through. Camiguin is home to several volcanoes and has remained resilient in the face of destructive eruptions. Jun and I have been to Camiguin once and we were promptly enchanted by its rugged beauty that called to our sense of adventure and love of nature. Plus, such a far-flung venue ensured that only the truly important people in our lives would make the effort to celebrate our sacramental union.
The couple living across the street in the suburban village of Royal Hills seemed perfectly at home in the idyllic middle-class environment of American log cabin-themed homes on manicured lawns. Except for one thing. Well, two things actually. But the first thing that stands out is that at 8 AM, it is the wife who takes the car and goes to the office while the husband dressed only in plain brown house shorts waves goodbye to her while carrying and shushing their tearful one-year old daughter. I only know the wife’s first name, Sally. In my head, I go, “Sally, that girl,” from the song with sexually explicit lyrics popularized by 2 Live Crew many years back. I have not talked to the husband nor do I intend to. He is a scrawny slant-eyed man who is fond of wearing nothing but short pants perfect for displaying his unappetizing bony body as he putters around in their unfenced yard. He reminds me of the stereotypical characters in classic Chinese movies, like the distraught cook or the manager of the bar where the fights usually take place, so I named him Wang-fu. The other thing that stands out about Sally and Wang-fu is how odd they look together. In the mornings, Sally, with full breasts, slight belly fat, and generous hips and buttocks straining against her form-fitting office clothes, would kiss a practically skeletal and half-naked Wang-fu goodbye at their doorstep. From Monday to Friday, variations of this same scene would play out before Sally gets into her silver 1.3 Toyota Vios that is decent enough for a bank employee except for its cheap dull magwheels. When Sally steps out in her three-and-a-half-inch patent leather heels and still wet rebonded hair reaching the middle of her back, I see a woman with a parochial air that cannot be shaken off even as she takes the wheel of her car. Her corporate attire screams department store and belies the sophistication she wants to project. The epitome of a grim and determined worker who rose from the ranks, Sally hardly smiles, if at all.
As the song goes, “If I can make it there. I’ll make it anywhere. New York! New York!”
But Tricia was barely making it.
Carrying what seemed like ten watermelons inside her belly, she willed her brain to suck all the tears back in. She knew that even a sigh would place her in danger of losing her very fragile control. It was a good thing her neighbors, John and Mayen, offered to drive. If it weren’t for the waves of alternating intense fire and knives that radiated from her abdomen, she would have felt deep humiliation.
A white rectangular wooden box with a polished surface and token curlicued bronze-colored engraving on its sides greeted my sleep-deprived and travel-weary eyes. As I entered the funeral home that early morning, I noted with wry amusement that Auntie Vim and her friends were entertaining themselves with their private jokes coupled with comical dancing. Mithi was lying fast asleep on the sofa nearest the coffin. The bright lights and heavy scent of flowers were an assault on the senses, very jarring in the cool and quiet air of a December morning. I nervously and slowly approached the coffin and peered into the wrinkled face of this once proud woman now shriveled and utterly lifeless. As I marshaled my thoughts and feelings, I noted how unbecoming the pink lipstick was against her brown leathery skin. I inwardly flinched when I saw that the white lining of the coffin on which she lay had the texture and look of plastic. I suddenly remembered how she hated plastic plants.
Splintered into a myriad pieces
A noiseless breaking
Into bloody shards and salty droplets
The world stands still.
Resting on the ground
Feebly glistening in the sun
Turning every which way
Searching for the whole