By Daniel E. Costas
The metro was a scene stripped of its usual glory of jeepneys and trucks choking the space-tight intersection even in the late hours of the deepest nights. For the first time, tar-tattooed tires had ditched the streets. No whiff of gas and engine smoke perfumed the air. A. Bonifacio’s bustle had slipped through a slumber, and the whistling of the wind—about the lamentation of roads over empty pavements—was the only sound there was.
I gazed upon this stillness the city had fallen into through a hazy window etched with spiderwebs on one side. The images I seized were all blurred, but everything was clear to me: the vibrations that kept the city alive had been vanquished from the sociability realm and the city’s tempo in allegro had faded to an adagio.
Though not one figure resembled me from the view my eyes were set on, uncannily, the projections still spoke to me.
I reckon it was the emotions that the ghosted reign outside and I shared. All sorts of loneliness must’ve sipped to me because just like the building and the streets, I was left behind all alone. But unlike them, I didn’t have the wind to tell my story to.
I was in an isolation of my own. Yes, the microbes asserted dominion over my body. It was not a long stretch of assumption to leap into when flu and shivers blanketed my nights. So when my family deliberated to spend the lockdown in Nueva Vizcaya, I held still in Quezon City. But I guess I hopped on to a false conclusion. A few days after my family left, the infections also followed suit, and I regained the manna that the influenza had siphoned from me.
Though it was a conscious decision to remain unmoved, I couldn’t stop tossing the coin even after the tail was revealed. The days of solitude that gleamed my mind and soul were the same days of solitude that gloomed my mind and soul. So what even kind of confliction did I delve into?
A butterfly-wallpapered room held me captive for what seemed like forever, yet it didn’t feel like an escape to a garden or a paradise. It felt like a dumpster with flies of anxiety lounging in the crevices of my brain.
On some days, these flies dispersed when I put on a show for the reflection staring back in the mirror or when I painted either of my canvases—my sketchpad or my face. But on most days, the flies would swarm back with shrilling doubts and regrets that berated my existence or with more questions that lambasted my thought process. Loudest of them all was the fly buzzing with a constant reminder of the shambles the timing of the chaos had caused.
Before the cage-up, the fulfillment of my summer fantasy was to baste my lips with the grease and juice of the famed Cebu lechon, to witness my friend toss her bouquet, and to search my soul in the city of pines. But just like the pines of Baguio, my plans were fogged by the pandemonium.
With my shredded-paper-thin plans, what was left were letters of a story my own wind had to pass on.
A. Bonifacio awakened with every dawn again. The air sniffed the aroma of pollution and coughed through it once more. Tar dripping from the buffet of wheels served on a concrete platter for the metro lathered the streets once again. But I was no longer there to stare down from the cobwebbed window.
Timing is a funny thing, but now I laugh with it after it laughed at me.
I fled the zone of flies—of anxieties domineering over me—and have returned to my hometown. These days, I still bask myself in the debris of the summer of apocalypse. Even though some flies still cling to me, it was rather peaceful for my head to know it’s now in a safer and happier place—metaphorically and literally.
The threat might loom for who knows till when. I’ll just put my plans on hold for now while I hold on to them and wait for life’s tempo to sync with mine.