By Virginia J. Pasalo
THE trees danced like clusters of dog tails wagging to welcome their master. There seems to be acceptance and even happiness at this sudden downpour, cleansing the ground from where the trees stood. The lightning had lately decided to come closer to earth. Why the lightning repositioned itself so close is still a mystery to ordinary people. Perhaps, they are intimidated by something, although no one could really tell where the intimidation is coming from, from the ground or from above it.
The sky is in mourning. It slowly turned dark gray claiming the space where the sun shone. From the way it was behaving, the sky must have lost something it treasured deeply to grieve so much that it seemed like all its strength is being expended to beat the ground. I think of the interaction as a passionate tango between heaven and earth. Maybe anger, pure unadulterated anger. Such anger is beautiful, in its purest form. Purity of emotion has a way of cleansing deeper than any confession to a priest.
“Let us take a moment to converse with God,” someone intoned. Her voice, even as it was sweet and modulated, trailed off like a command that one can observe heads bowing. In this sense, it is reminiscent of the Japanese, as they bow in greeting to start a meeting. Maybe it is a reflex that one learns from the combined impact of the church, and the acceptable behavior imposed by colonizers. That is how, at least physically, one appears in conversation with God. Some closed their eyes murmuring. Some just stared at “someone”.
After the conversation with God that lasted for only two minutes, a stocky man in a yellow green barong approached the microphone to apologize for not being able to remember all the lyrics of the hymn, but confessing to have written the whole text in a paper which he will refer to while he leads the singing. He managed to sing correctly, but in the middle of the song, he could not read his handwriting, and adlibbed. The adlib was clear and audible, and sounded like a combination of letters retrieved from a document corrupted by a virus and created a sound reminiscent of the singing of men whose tongues were thickened by beer.
After that, the speeches came. The speeches did not deviate from any official pronouncement and the response did not deviate from the usual courtesy. All the speeches, without exception, floated in the air, and not in the ears, where they should have lingered. Unlike the people seated in low chairs, the balloons were just so happy they were already filled with neon and are unable to inhale air from the gaping mouths pretending to listen. Unlike the people who had the choice of mobility however, the balloons were neatly tied one by one to form a line on a string and the ceiling sealed their chances of escaping. It was hilarious to see some people shaking the hands of those who made speeches, knowing fully well they have suffered in silence, hoping the speech would end. It is as if the handshake was in gratitude for having the sensitivity to the suffering they inflicted or an apology for not having listened. Or maybe it is courtesy. Our elementary teachers have always told us to be respectful, to show good manners and right conduct. My teacher used to say, “Say thank you, Virginia, when someone gives you something, or someone says, you’re beautiful!”
That’s probably the reason why, some people are prone to thank the United States for bombing Syria. After all, the people of Syria are being liberated from “themselves”. Even now, some elementary teachers have not lost the framework of good manners and right conduct. “Say thank you, the United States liberated the world from tyranny!” Thank you indeed, even if, for the Syrians, the war has become a long-drawn intercourse promising a climax, but not really getting there. Like today’s rain. The ground took the beating wondering where to draw the strength to express gratitude for the pain.
After two hours, the sun slowly warmed the gray clouds and the warmth has turned the atmosphere into soft yellow. Moments passed and the yellows turned to gray once again, dimming just a little indicating an accommodation by the gray to the intruding yellow. New colors manage to blend into the terrain unnoticed this way: slow, calibrated and designed to match the degree of readiness of its host. It will take a little while to get accustomed to the new colors, as one accommodates new feelings and the existence of pink rain.