23 April 2008

Of horns and halos

Being almost three years short to claiming three decades of existence gives me the license to pick an unforgettable year. That would have to be the last year of my naiveté. 1996.

1996 was when I found an angel. Part of the pre-examination requirement of a pedantic religion teacher was to participate in our church's station of the cross meditation in observance of Lent. For a Catholic-raised schoolgirl who can barely get out of the house at nights let alone a school night, it was indeed one of those few well-liked school activities. On that one balmy night of March, some of my classmates were kind enough to pick me up on their way to church and thankfully, it was enough for my mom to deem the situation "safe." The activity ended rather late and my classmates decided to stay and feast on the sidewalk's entree of tempura and fishball before heading home, much to my annoyance of not being able to partake in this rare impromptu soiree. Knowing my mom (and the small city swarmed with mom's prying friends), I knew I had to hurry home. Perhaps, out of guilt, my classmates walked me to the jeepney stop while gobbling a stick of tempura swathed in a tasty-looking, gooey sauce. As we passed one of the makeshift roadside stores, a torso-baring idler who obviously had taken more than his fill of tuba that night, jumped right in front of us and grabbed me by the arm. Too scared and nauseated by the stinking breath of this drunkard, I was completely immobilized. Luckily, the braver one of our lot was quick to yank the man's arm, pulled me away from his grip and we ran all the way to the jeepney stop. Perhaps sensing my fear, that classmate accompanied me home even if home was quite a long way off. And that was how I came to know an angel.

Sharing incidents like these can inevitably spark friendship despite having personalities not unlike the opposing poles of a magnet. We became good friends after that though not the type who would hang out after class to swap droll classroom antics or share a plate of Pinoy-style spaghetti. We barely even keep up to the latest details of our respective lives. This, I guess, is a trait of true friendship. Except that I really never thought of my angel that way that time.

Exactly a year after the torso-baring, tuba-drinking idler episode, I found myself back in the throes of trouble. I could've prevented this if I used even half of my brain to decipher the omens or the makings of a Trojan horse in a bag of Hershey's Kisses or in that tawdry doll with an oddly-braided hair but due to a teenager's credulity to trust everyone except her didactic yet well-meaning family, I was hurled gobsmacked right into the pit of my own hell. Utterly disheveled and bruised from trying to escape the devil's lair, I found myself standing right at the doorstep of my angel's house. The two-faced devil scampered away, afraid of being unmasked and perhaps, of legal repercussions. At the sight of the angel, I felt safe. Still shaken but safe. That night, the angel walked me home again while I blabbered about the day's awful events through misty eyes.

"Save a person's life once and you become responsible for him forever."

So goes an old Chinese adage. True enough, it's been twelve years and when the going gets tough or when I manage to hurl myself in trouble again or when I'm just being my restless self, the angel remains.

A scarred part of me badly wants to say that my angel brought me home for good. But that would be a complete lie. Happy am I right now but I still have a thousand steps (maybe even more) to take before reaching that self-made person I've always imagined myself to be. When I can finally summon that nascent courage to take my first step towards finding my home on my own, it would not be without lachrymose eyes.

08 April 2008


(Phew.. a moldy and funky-smelling this blog has become. I must say, this writing mechanism deserves a bit more oil than ever. For now, let me just grab my broomstick and sweep all the dust and cobwebs away as I can't summon the right alibis for my absence. While I'm at it, enjoy yourself with this quick read.)

Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff
One word.
Mind-blowing. No pun intended.

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