Sunday, September 13, 2009

Drowned World (Epilogue)


Bronxdude and I were walking along Ayala Avenue when a white guy approached our direction. He was catching his breath, unable to speak clearly and his weary eyes expressed confusion. After a few seconds, he began telling his story. The white guy is a tourist who took a stroll around Makati when someone stole his wallet. He went to the police station to report the theft but the authorities were unable to provide assistance. He needed P300 pesos to return to Zambales. He never told us his reason for going there nor we bothered asking for it. What I do know is that he asked for our help and passing on the graciousness I received from Flame_and_Moth earlier that evening, I took out my wallet and pulled a P100 peso bill without having second thoughts about it.


Past 6 in the morning. O-Bar, Malate.

"Medyo mababa na ang tubig, baka gusto mo na umuwi?" I asked my companion.

"Okay lang, marami pa namang tao." His faint voice spoke of exhaustion. My dance partner needed rest.

"Tara, kaya natin to. Kasama mo naman ako eh."

Earlier, I overheard some gay guys speaking near the exit. One of them said there's a path going to Taft Avenue that is free of flood water. What we need to do is hop our way to Remedios and hopefully, find a cab that would take us home.

Nobody yet has chartered the route but it's a risk worth taking. Some guys who also overheard their conversation began trickling towards that direction. I followed them half of the way. Returning back to O-Bar, I insisted my companion to leave with me and join the new batch of brave souls who were already preparing for the treacherous journey.

"Ingat ka madulas ah!" I was in front, making sure our path remains unobstructed.

"Kapit sa kamay ko dude. Makipot ang daan."

"Talon ng mataas, hindi ka mahuhulog. Salo kita." My arms extended, even if he slips from hopping between two outcroppings, I would surely catch him before he falls to the ground.

The trek was indeed perilous, if not downright suicidal. Next to the narrow ledge where we tried to stick our feet were flood waters that reached our ankles. We crossed makeshift islands out of stacked stones, stepped on wobbly chairs set up by establishments eager to close before the sun was up and slid our feet across pavements made of ceramic tiles. Twice I nearly slipped - my balance only reclaimed by some timely corrections on my body posture. The heavy bag on my back and the skater's shoes I wore didn't help - I had to take them off unless I want to court a disastrous splashdown as we escaped from Malate.

The sky still heaved of Nimbus clouds which still threatened to burst open and the occasional drizzle soaked our already damp shirts, but we made it. Whoever said that Remedios Street was free of floods was heaven-sent. After several blocks of walking its entire stretch, my companion and I were able to reach Taft Avenue without immersing our feet in bacteria-infested waters. We are free, and the goal of reaching home rest on our sheer talent to navigate a city still submerged from a night-long downpour.

"Text me when you get home pare."

"Sige ba. Ano number mo ulit?" Nobody has ever gotten my number save for him who I'd danced last.


The rest of Taft Avenue was like an endless river whose treacherous waves swamped engines and left motorists stranded at the central island that divided the street into two. I was fortunate to hail a jeep bound for Avenida shortly after leaving my companion to his own fate. The jeep's refurbished engine, despite the knee-depth water tiring its motor never bogged down from the elements. Everywhere I look, there was only inundation. The only part of the route free from the deluge was the section of Taft Avenue across Manila City Hall. It was in that spot that I decided to drop-off and seek a larger vehicle that would take me home.

"Wala na pong bawian kapag nakakuha na kayo ng ticket!" The conductor announced.

We were like sardines packed inside the G-Liner Bus. Lucky for me, I was able to find a seat before it was overwhelmed by passengers eager to arrive at their destination. With my phone's battery almost dead, a last phone call received from mother was my assurance that she will not enter a state of panic should she not get a word from me.

"Buksan niyo na lang po ang bintana. Baka tayo tumirik sa daan kapag nagpumilit ho tayo mag aircon."

I cannot recall how long it took for the bus to arrive at the last flyover before my final drop-off. In between stopovers, I was able to steal naps needed to ready myself for wading the floods ahead. You see, the street crossing going to my neighborhood is infamous for its waist-deep waters. I was already warned inside the bus that there's no choice but to take the plunge.

It was easy to take a round trip journey and sleep until the bus reaches Cainta, but my doorstep was already within sight. The choice was settled when suddenly the bus driver did the unimaginable.

Habang papaahon ang bus sa Nagtahan Flyover, ito'y biglang nagcounterflow para maiwasan ang bumper-to-bumper traffic na nagbabadya sa aming harapan. Sa gitna ng tulay ay kitang kita kung paano nai-stranded ang mga jeep at truck patungong Silangan. Karamihan sa kanila'y inabot na ng umaga sa daan. Pagdating ng Vicente Cruz ay tanaw mo na ang ga-bewang na baha na nag-iintay sa Foreza. Heto ang bahang pinaghahandaan ko sa aking pagbaba ng bus.

Subalit, kati na ang tubig sa Vicente Cruz. Maari pa rin akong makauwi ng bahay ng hindi lumulusong sa baha.

Pagkaraan ng mahigit isang oras na paglalakbay galing O-Bar ay nakarating rin ako sa bungad ng aming baranggay. Gaya ng inaasahan ay lubog ito sa tubig. Ang sabi-sabi ng mga tambay ay hindi nabuksan ang Floodgate sa Santa Mesa kaya't ganito katindi ang baha.

Wala na akong pakialam sa kuro-kuro ng iba. Ang mahiga sa kama ang tanging nananaig sa aking damdamin.

Pumara ako ng Pedicab na magdadala sa akin sa harap ng aking apartment. Lubog ang kalsada - pati ang loob ng mga bahay ay pinasok rin ng tubig. Ang mga kapitbahay na nakasalubong ko sa daan ay pabirong nagsabi na ihanda ko na ang sapatos sa paglusong sa tubig. Mismong aking tiyuhin na nakatambay sa daan ay nagsabing maaring pinasok rin ng tubig ang aming pintuan.

Malapit na akong mawalan ng pag-asa, lalo pa't tanaw ko na ang driveway papasok ng unit.


Sa hindi maipaliwanag na dahilan ay nakarating ako sa harap ng aming bahay na tuyo ang pantalon at pati na rin ang medyas. Tanging ang unit lang namin at ang kalsadang sinasakop nito ang hindi inabutan ng baha. Save for one shoe na nahulog sa tubig habang tumutulay sa Malate, talampakan ko lang ang nakatikim ng tubig ulan.

Hindi na ako nagpakita sa dancefloor matapos ang umagang iyon. Ngayon ay ikatlong linggo ko ng malayo sa fast lane. Sa wakas ay nagising rin ako sa posibilidad na kaya ko palang talikuran ang Malate.

Ang aking naging kasama buong magdamag - si ex dance partner number 2, ay nakarating rin sa kanilang bahay. Panay pa rin ang text nito subalit ni minsan ay hindi ako nagreply. Naging mailap na rin ang aking puso sa iba. Tila napagod na ito sa pakikipagkompromiso.

Hindi ko alam kung hanggang kailan magiging ganito ang pagtingin ko sa buhay. Hindi ko rin sigurado kung kailan muling maaninag ang aking mapaglarong anino sa Malate. Anuman ang naging resulta ng isang gabing pakikipagsapalaran makauwi lang ng bahay, isang bagay lang ang napatunayan ko sa sarili.

Learning from experience, I need nobody to look after me.


engel said...

Learning from this experience, I needed nobody to look after me.

-Thanks for this post, I think I needed that.

rudeboy said...

In the end, Knox, we all have to look out for ourselves.

Everyone else is just along for the ride.

Anonymous said...

i would like to give comment to the much awaited epilogue of the drowned world series

but id rather keep my mouth shut kasi baka magalit ka sa itatanong ko.

siguro in time, maiintindihan ko rin kung bakit.

hindi lang ako muna magtatanong at hihintayin ko na lang dumating yung pagkakataon na yun.


alam mo na po kung sino ako at kung bakit nag-anonymous na lang ako

sa email na lang ulit, tulad ng dati

john stanley said...

i couldn't agree more.

red the mod said...

On a lighter note, we need only to introspect to discover the capacity to uphold our own preservation. Often, we stray believing that the lights and gyrations would validate us, but when the smoke has cleared and the bottles downed, we too have only ourselves to seek the path home.

Despite the occasional take-home's and night-over's, we always have ourselves to count on when the downpour of circumstances present little option.

@rudeboy - I agree. And sometimes, when our hearts fold, we are the ones taken for a ride.

Knox Galen said...

Engel: In the end, we just have to be tough. In my case, it pains me more to hurt others because of me.

That's why I'm letting go of them.

Rudeboy: That's what I'm painfully learning lately. I guess that's the reason why I stopped looking.

John Stan: Weh, iba naman strategy mo eh. You're doing a-tristan kaya. LOL.

Knox Galen said...

Period: Now you know why.

Red The Mod: Self preservation. Thanks for the buzzword dude. I guess that's the whole series is all about. But, like what I've said to you in our conversation earlier, everything is just a cycle. The Karmic release for this entry is that I stopped returning to that place

For now.