Wednesday, March 6, 2013


In my sleep, I was in a distant place. Somewhere stateside, where the air was dry and nippy, and at the heart of downtown were rows of Art Deco office buildings criss-crossed by four-lane one-way streets.

To get around, one must walk in layers of clothing I would not imagine wearing in the tropics. I recall putting on my hoodie for the cold weather gives me headaches. Part of the nocturnal narrative has now warped into oblivion, like smudged ink on a wet paper. But I remember stepping foot inside a hall occupied by a huge well-kept library.

I didn't stay long inside the library - with musty bookcases that touched the ceiling. Instead, the library's narrow corridors served as passageway to the other side, where a courtyard gave way to old oak trees. Beyond, was a chest-high concrete fence separating the verdant refuge from the post-modern avenue.

Before I could even walk out the door, I remember catching up with a Caucasian guy, who didn't seem to notice my towering presence. I followed him as he walked past the courtyard and into the street outside. I kept tracing his footsteps when a familiar voice called my name.

"Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!" It was my dad.   

I stopped following the Caucasian guy and walked towards my father instead. His face could not hide his disappointment - like he was, the last time he paid a visit. He told me that my life was going nowhere; that he didn't expect me to end this way. I didn't heed his words, nor paid attention to his observation. It seems this time, the old man is growing impatient.

It's been years since my dad passed away. And for some reasons, we kept correspondence in my sleep. I told these bizarre encounters to my mom, and she too is mystified. After all, she and my sister never got a visit from my dad.

Not even in their sleep.

Back in my dream, we decided to take a stroll. Nobody talked. We passed by a Chowking restaurant and I invited him to eat.

He declined my invitation. 

"Dalawa na apo mo ah," I tried to break the ice once more, hoping the news would put a smile on his face. But he remained aloof, silent, like he just showed up to say something straight from the gut.

"Huwag ka na magpapakita sa akin!" He said in a stern voice.

Before I could say a word, the dream was over. It was almost noon and no matter how I twisted and turned in bed, I can no longer go back to sleep.

Stunned, I told my mom what happened. Once more, we tried to weave a reasonable explanation to all these disturbing and recurring visitations. I wish to know the cause of his anger and if there is something that could be done to win back his favor.

"Baka naman dahil hindi ako nakapunta sa sementeryo nung Death Anniversary niya?" I was looking at the mirror while I spoke. The footprint of years my face no longer hides.

"Baka naman narinig niya yung mga sinabi mo kagabi?" She said in a jest. My dad's sister sent a text message the night before. I thought it would be prudent not to reply.

It's no secret that I had a falling out with my dad's kin; that I am no longer swayed to my aunt's side as she recounts the hardships of having a troublesome son. My cousin, in his outbursts in the past punched her in the face. Without work to support his two kids and a wife that didn't even finish high school, their house relies on dole outs and occasional remittance from a TNT uncle. 

Perhaps, I have grown tired of their hopelessness; of the cycle of violence and my aunt's refusal to act on it. At a time when everyone at home struggles to keep the house afloat, hearing word about the troublesome cousin only adds to my frustration.

Sometimes I wish we were never relatives at all.

So I told my mom before I went to bed that their problem is no longer my concern; that I would rather waste my strength keeping my own house in order.

The contents of the text message no longer matter. Even my sometimes-vile sister said it serves our cousin right. Meanwhile, my mom said it would give my aunt the freedom to run the house the way she sees fit. And so we all agreed to get on with our lives and not mind her troubles. That was until my father showed up in my sleep, and received a rather icy reception.

"Ikaw na nga tumatayong padre de pamilya ah." My mom rallied to my defense. "Hindi ba niya yun makita sa kabilang buhay?"

Her assurance sufficed to ease a troubled heart. I was even saying that dad could have at least approached me nicely. But I guess, one's nature doesn't change - even in the afterlife. He was, and will always be the ill-tempered father I had known.  

And like how our father-and-son relationship had been, it was easy to ignore the dream. It can be seen as a manifestation of the subconscious; a mere creative expression of the mind. But at a hindsight, who am I to defy the departed when he chose to speak to me? Can families simply walk out from each other, when our ties have been close - at best?

So I let my heart lead the way and overturn the instructions of the mind. After all, I may speak of the family tragedy in all its regrettable details. But never can I claim that we were left without flotsam to hold on. We can still afford to lend an ear, even when our eyes refuse to see the misery in our midst.

"Akala ko kinalimutan mo na ako." My aunt sobbed as we walked away from my father's grave. "Ang hirap hirap..."

"Maging matatag po kayo." I hugged her tight before parting ways. "Hindi kayo pinapabayaan..."

She may not know the reason for my unannounced visit. But most certainly in the great beyond, a restless soul has been appeased.


red the mod said...

We are our fathers' salvation, as much as they may seem to be our bane. In the end, one must be the man he sees fit, in his time, by his means. The shadow of paternity may cast long, even beyond mortality. But even shadows gradiate, and fade.

davincroft said...

Did you forgive yourself after this?