Saturday, October 31, 2009

PROMPT: write about someone who had passed to the other side

muscat, sultanate of oman, 1986

i think it was september or october. i was alone in my bedroom, writing a letter to auntie nene. we had just had a heavy storm, and from my bedroom window, i could see the muddy water running down the low hill on the other side of the property, like brown little ribbons cascading down the barren hill. the clouds had lifted but the general outlook outside was still gloomy.

i had left my bedroom door open as christine, the british girl who was sharing the apartment with me, was spending the weekend at her boyfriend's apartment. she had left the night before and she also left her bedroom door open. our bedroom doors were right opposite each other.

i felt movements in the apartment. i attributed this to air pressure in the building. you know, how your doors would suddenly shut close when another door anywhere in the building would be shut; or how the pilot light in your stove would get extinguished; or the eerie way the curtains would sway just so.

i finished my letter, folded it, placed it inside an envelope and then sealed it. i knew i had just bought some omani stamps the day before and i knew i left them on the credenza in the dining room so i got up to get the stamps. i thought i heard footsteps or heard a "rustle" of movements. i thought they were footsteps but knowing i was alone in the apartment, i didn't think it was anything. it was at this point that i glanced at my bedroom door and i thought i saw someone passed by going towards christine's bedroom.

"christine?" i called out. the envelope fell on the floor and i bent down to pick it up. between looking at the door and looking down reaching for the envelope, i thought i saw a face and it was auntie's face. very briefly, as briefly as a bat of the eyelash. it made me think maybe she was sick or something. i found the stamps in the dining room and drove to post office to mail my letter.

several weeks later, i received a letter from my auntie estrella saying that auntie nene had died - on the date that i wrote my letter.

c.v.summerfield, Oct. 31, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009


A golden streak of afternoon sunlight seeped through the glass walls and heavy drapes, and traced the figure lying serenely on the bed. It caressed the light brown hair, kissed the short curly brown lashes, traced the high tilted nose, and lined the the shape of his mouth. I watched him sleep, taking in the suntanned skin of his naked body, and his slow even breathing almost bothered the silence of the cold room. I lightly touched his shoulder and he stirred; his eyes opening, the green-gray color instantly sparkled in the light of the afternoon sun. The thin lips curled into a smile, stifling a yawn. His arms reached for my half-naked body, pulled me towards him and kissed my mouth. Briefly I returned the kiss. He held me tighter and began to caress and undress; I backed up and turned my attention to Jeffrey Archer’s The Prodigal Daughter, feigning disinterest. But he was insistent; he grabbed the book and threw it down the carpet floor, almost ripping the cover. Then he held me firmly and kissed me again, this time more passionately. In a moment, I was under his spell again; his lips on mine, his body dominating my body. I felt I was drowning again and again. I felt as if the seawater was closing in on me. I half-opened my eyes and saw the red afternoon sun almost halfway down the sea; then as the rigidity of his body penetrated my own, I shut my eyes and let myself drown in his love.
This was the man who could don different personalities, depending on the time of the day, the topic of conversation, the scenery of the place, or the mood of the person with him.

c.v.summerfield, manila, 1984

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PROMPT: write about silence

silence, it is both a blessing and a curse.

when at the end of an especially busy and stressful day and we need to relax, all that we want is silence. it frees us - we don't need to hear people's voices, cars' engines, those that remind us of work, and what we do to get to it and away from it. always nice to lie down on the sofa, with your feet propped up, the lights off with only the flickering shadows of dusk around you. it brings your heart rate down, the mind becomes peaceful, the muscles start to relax, your rationality and your sanity get restored. if only for a brief moment.

then there is the cursed silence. one that doesn't involve sound. anger, madness, a broken heart, a bruised ego - they delve into silence that fills you with angst and sometimes fear. fear of loss, maybe. the angry silence that you feel. the maddening silence that deafens. the searing silence that cuts into you, like a dagger that rips your heart and stabs your soul. yes, that kind of silence.

c.v.summerfield, oct. 21, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

reconnecting with the past

Why is it that as we grow older, the past seems to insistently knock on the door, so to speak? Is it desperation or indifference to our aging body and mind, or is it that, as we notice the sunset glowing red on the horizon, we sit down and watch it vanish, knowing that behind so many sunsets that we have ignored in our busy lives there were some memories that we buried which we invariably never wanted to face or saving for a more quiet time to enjoy them?

You start to remember that friendship in high school that you had made which you didn't follow through after graduation. You went on with your life and so did your friend. Once in a while you stopped and wondered how she or he is doing? Has she or he found a friend better than you? Who do you blame for letting this friendship just disappear? You start to think, did you ever make an attempt at finding out.

Well, look, the sunset is glowing gold and the sky is turning to deep dark blue. Age has got to do with wanting to reconnect, even if you do not want to. You have succeeded in your life, on your own terms. You played by the rule, now you want some peace and quiet to reminisce, to enjoy of what was left. You pick up the phone and find out if your friend is still there, but the wrong voice answers. You wonder what has happened? Then regret sets in, a sense of loss overwhelms you. But is it worth it? Didn't the old folks say the past is past, it is gone. But your mind asks you, is it?

In our teenage years or in high school, our character was reinforced in its mould. It was the time when we were left alone to make the little decisions - prelude to the big ones we would make later on - you chose who your friends were, you adopted the study habits that are comfortable for you, you made your first alliances, no matter that the choice of alliance was wrong or defective, because that was how we learned. We were permitted to make mistakes because that is the only way you could see the wrongs and the rights. You chose that pretty girl with the long hair who seemed so quiet over the girl who laughed out loud. Or you chose that dashing cadet over the quiet mousy intellectual who slipped a love letter inside your literature book.

And that was how your life went. Those became one of your measuring sticks. Was it too late finding out that the quiet girl was a scheming little welch who had no respect for others; and the girl who possessed a loud laugh became a nurse at the paediatric hospital and so well loved by the children patients? The handsome cadet never finished college, worked odd jobs and never made anything of himself. And you find out that the mousy quiet boy who slipped that love letter in your literature book is the president of a large international company? And you ask yourself: was it that your measuring stick was short and uncompromising, or was it too long you got lost in your measurements?
c.v.summerfield; november 23, 2007

friends and friendship

during the week, i received a chain e-mail from one of my office friends. something about good luck. at the end it gave degrees of good fortune that will come to me if i passed on the e-mail according to the number of people. it further said that i should send it to ALL my friends so i can share with them this good fortune. and then went on further to warn me of consequences if i didn't do as requested.

now, good fortune i always wanted and still do, to share with all my friends, my family too, and those i know are deserving. but i wrote back to this friend and told her that i can't meet the "minimum" requirement of the e-mail.

"don't you have 5 good friends?" she asked.

now, friends i have quite a few, and only few. but good friends, i can count them using the fingers of my both hands, and i'm sure i am over estimating.

friends and degrees of friendship. that is the question.

i have two, three friends who are really, really dear to me. okay, four. these are friends whose happiness i share, whose misfortunes and sadness i bear, whose victory i partake, along with the loss. these are friends who respect me and whom i respect; who values my thoughts and opinion and whose thoughts and opinions i value, no questions asked. these are friends for whom i will die or share my life if it will make them live longer - share my kidney (okay, that's a bad example, because my right kidney is questionable and i think these friends would want me around a tad longer), give my other lung, part of my liver; if i have an accident, i would bequeath my heart to them if they are in need of it (to hell with my organ donation card, that is if one of these friends needs my heart).

mind you, these friends don't include the friend who lives in my apartment and shares the bed with me. i would do that for him too, but i'm sure i'll ask first his 6 children before i volunteer any part of myself; the logic being i would have to be healthy to take care of him or visit him. these friends are friends no matter what. they can make bad decisions and i would still be there for them; act like some lovesick teenager when there's a new man in her life, i'd tolerate it for as long as it takes (of course hoping the affair settles down or fizzles sooner to relieve me of the aggravation; selfish, ain't it?); or ask for advice even though i know they will do the opposite which was what they wanted to do in the first place anyway, and i would still be there to support them. or who chooses to disappear for say 25 years then come back in again into that friendship fold and the 25 years didn't seem to have taken place - we just pick up where we left off.

then of course i have friends for whom i will perform CPR (and actually remember what i learned in the training) (and that's aside from the said friends above); for whom i will write obituaries; for whom i will bake 600 muffins if i knew how. for whom i will pose naked if they ask although i'm sure none of them would want that aggravation.

it doesn't matter how long or how short the time i have known this person. a friend is a friend is a friend. and sometimes, you can even be a friend to someone you haven't even met, but your guts tell you that that person, as yet without a face, will be your good friend for a long time.

all my friends are beautiful people - outside and inside. and smart. i'm always proud to say that to my "other" friends, those that have not yet earned the status of going in that inner circle i have formed, that inner circle that nobody sees, even those who are inside it.

lulu and i started on shaky ground. she thought i was against her, when i was just being me, quiet (yes, i am the quiet type, hard to believe, i know) and observant. but when we started being nice to each other, we actually liked it and we ended up being best friends to the discomfort of the other friends we have. lulu and i are the same in our smarts and we think alike most of the time. how good a friendship would anyone expect from us?

there is aida, a friend from my high school days. she hung around different sets of friends and we were more like classmate acquiantance before we became real friends. then we did some silly things like throwing pieces of anything at anyone we liked. now aida is the quiet type (the really quiet as in no sound at all - me, my quiet you can still hear). she and i became good friends before high school was over - i guess we were growing old by then. she inspired me to learn how to play the guitar and i think i inspired her to do some good thing. then we both went our separate ways - she went to college, i did, too; she got married, i didn't; she had a daughter, i adopted a son. and years later we reconnected. like we just saw each other the day before. and our friendship was like that - once in a while over the course of many years i'd call her or visit her or write to her. i didn't mind if she didn't write me back because she knew i knew what her life is like. but that's our friendship.

virginia and i share the same passion for writing. or non-writing (i.e., when the muse has abandoned us). but she has other friends that she had met way before we met, but still we are friends, really good friends. she cares that i am happy in my attachments, that she gives good feedback on my writing; we learn things from each other. we are "intellectual" friends.

my sister lengleng and i have been friends for all our lives. when we were young children, i was her protector and she was the lookout, the screener when boys started to notice me in my teenage years. we didn't do things that were bad, we just looked out for each other in our own way. i could not imagine my life without my sister. there's just some things you can't tell your other best friends that you can tell your best friend sister.

then i have those other really special friends - chrissy, ada, julie, all held on the same pedestal, all in that unseen "circle" that i made.

friendship is when you learn lessons from the person, or they inspire you and hopefully they learn something from you, or they get some kind of inspiration from you, too. or even nothing. all these happen without you noticing it unless some circumstance makes you write a blog about friendship and you have nothing to say but think of the real friends you have and you take it from there.
cvsummerfield - November 27, 2007