I long to work alone in the early morning. Unfortunately even if I wake at three or four a.m. everybody else in this house seem to feel this desire and they get up from their beds. I derive pleasure from the fact that I seem to be in control of a certain silence in this house, my mind is free to wander off and I can fully concentrate without any interruptions. As soon as another person is awake, that special time to be alone with one's thoughts is drastically altered. I am no longer alone, I have to share that time, and that particular space, with somebody else. Like my son, who automatically shuts himself in the toilet to pee, and I could hear the intermittent flow of water in the bidet. Or my husband, who looks for his cellphone, cigarettes and lighter, and loudly proclaims, "Asan ang cellphone ko?" and if you hand it to him, "Asan ang lighter ko?" and it doesn't stop until he settles into a chair and lights a stick. Even my gentle sister in law could not understand this need for solitude, as she would chat about our boarder's cats or some such concern. Of course I love them all. But they all seem to be some kind of drain that sucks my plenitude of space and time and freedom. Of course I'm babbling like a fool. What plenitude of time? Or space? Or freedom? Of course we are never alone. And we have to live with that. And so, if I write about a typical wakeful moment in the early morning, don't be surprised if I would also add, that, apart from me, my husband and my sister in law woke up. He thought he heard a screen door close, while she thought it was something else. "Narinig ko na 'yun e, parang bakal na hinihila."
"Hindi, parang screen na binubuksan."
"Baka naman artist ang kapitbahay niyo."
He went out, inspected the periphery and found nothing.
"'Yan din kasi ang narinig niya noon ng ninakawan ang kabila."
"Oo, parang may nagsarang screen door."
After a few more minutes, he decided to sleep, and so did she. I was thankful there weren't any intruders, but I was even more grateful by the fact that they left me alone. I have a
pet theory about all these sounds and noises, a running vision about burglary and theft. Of course I have learned to keep these thoughts to myself. My husband has always told me it's just my imagination.
This house is porous. All its walls, from front to back and sideways are. Even the ceilings are weak. A child couldn't do it. Perhaps a cat will, or a large rat. But a person? No, no, no. He dismisses all these possibilities. He says if a burglar will come in here, he wouldn't be interested in just a book, or a number of books. He wouldn't even take my son's toys. He would go for the big fish, like our tv, our laptop and computer, etc. To which I say, what if his or her intention is not to steal but simply to borrow? The house is porous and we always have uninvited guests. They manage to pilfer some creamer and detergents, sanitary napkins and frozen food, eggs and milk. A headset from the gym suddenly materializes after a long absence, its left ear foam missing and magnet exposed. Four silver coated earrings disappear and one pair suddenly shows up in my vanity case. A cd that I thought I lost was found under the computer table which I have cleaned and found clear of any debris. Clothes, from a pair of jeans to a blouse, get lost in limbo, only to be found hanged in a corner somewhere or kept in a plastic bag.
The Buddhists claim that in order to achieve Nirvana we must learn to be free from all desires.
Thank God I am not a Buddhist. I would always begrudge another person's interference in my space or time that I chose as mine alone. And it's not because I am just, technically, a selfish person. The things that are sucked away from this house, be they a piece of toy or plastic soldier, or a slim volume of poetry or a favorite novel, are no longer just things. I consider them a part of who we are, a part of the body that I call family, a part of the concept others vaguely say, memories. Like my father, I believe no one has the right to build a library from other people's books. As for my son's toys, every piece of lego is a solid atom of his childhood.
These things aren't just "material". They have clung to the very atoms of our being here, in this time and in this space. 'Yung makakain, hinahayaan ko na lang. 'Yung maisusuot, natutunan ko nang palampasin. Ang iniisip ko na lang, nilalang siguro siya -- buhay, hindi multo -- na walang masilungan. Naghahangad marahil. Ano ba naman ang tasa ng masarap na kape? O ilang piraso ng chocolate? Siguro, ikinalulugod niya iyon. Doon siya maligaya. Matagal na nalamatan ng mga nawawalang bagay ang pakikitungo ko sa mga tumira na ritong mga kasambahay. At kahit si Aling Gondina, na siyang pinakamatapat na kasambahay na nilikha ay hindi rin ligtas sa aking suspisyon, o teorya ng kupit. Kapag nagkakaganito ang iniisip ko, inaalala ko na lang ang ginawa niyang kabutihan sa aking lola.
Si Aling Dina ang nagdala sa ospital sa aking lola, ng atakehin ito sa puso noong isang tanghali ng Nobyembre 2004. Nahimatay na ang lola ko sa tapat ng refrigerator, na bukas pa. Siguro, idedefrost niya ang laman. Kung anu-ano ang iniimbak niya roon. Dadaigin ng mga laman ng styro roon ang anumang bulagaan ng premyo sa noontime show -- may expired na gamot, pustiso, bulok nang ulam, tsokolateng naaagnas, mumo. Dahil wala siyang tinapon halos. Sabi nga ni Bert, ultimo napkin ay huhugasan pa niya't isasabit para magamit muli.
Siguro, kung sinuman iyong napapadpad dito, ang bahay na ito'y isang malaking refrigerator. O imbakan. Isang warehouse. Isang library. Isang bookstore. Isang do-it-yourself hardware outlet. Duty free. Kagandang materyal nito para sa isang sitcom. Isang bahay na laging nagigising ang mga nakatira dahil sa pag-aalala nilang sila'y napapasukan. Isang babae na may teorya sa lahat ng pagkawalang ito pero hindi pinaniniwalaan, parang si Cassandra. Isang lalake na sayantipikong mag-isip pero numero uno namang matatakutin. Ang kapatid nitong babae na may sarili ring lipad, tapat, at simple. Batang siya palang susi ng lahat ng mga nawawala, dahil ito ang kumukuha ng mga gamit at ibinabaon sa lupa o ipinamimigay sa mga kaibigan. Isang kasambahay na malilimutin na laging napagbibintangan. Asong kumakahol sa mga multo, pero hindi kumakahol sa mga magnanakaw. At huwag kalilimutan sa cast ang bahay na ito na bukod sa luma na'y maaring portal rin ng mga dumaraan o napadaang mga kaluluwa. What a laugh. Parang Gothic story na may resident ghost. Unfortunately palpak akong sumulat ng mga patawa kasi ako lang ang natatawa. Kaya siguro kahit i-pitch ko pa ito, hindi ito papasa.
So natanggap ko na na nakatira ako sa isang bahay na lagusan. Silungan. At inaangkin ko, maging ang baliw na teoryang ito na ni ayaw seryosohin ng kahit sino, kahit ng aking asawa.