Why the nom de plume?

By Jing Villamil

MANY had asked why this writer used a nom de plume almost all her writing years, and kept unknown the most wonderful sound to one’s ears – one’s most wonderful name! Those who asked found the writer’s answer somehow evasive, unacceptable. She said she just wanted to probe and to prove, even just to herself, that . . . fulfillment does not necessarily come with the fame of the name, the thickness of the wallet, and the power of possessing both.

It was true. It can be done. And she did it. Picture her trademark: a tiptoeing about, big brown eyes wide, finger against puckered lips issuing a perpetual ssshhh sound! The Nancy Drew image must have imprinted in more than a one reader. One time, she entered a government office. The secretaries and clerks and detectives looked up from their desks. They must have recognized her from their file pic, or bannered on her regular column. It was an investigative agency after all! And, they must have liked reading her, too. For as soon as she poked her face round the door, the dear boys and girls were ssshhhing through index fingers crossed over puckered lips! She could hug them all in one loving swoop! If only her arms were as elastic as the incredibly Elastic Mom! And if only she didn’t know these dear boys and girls were sufficiently armed somewhere beneath those impressively fashionable looseness – of dark pants, jackets and coats!

So there! There are dears still in government working true works, sweating true sweats and ageing through years unwrapping one dastardly untruth after another.

Ehem. But we stray too far. We pick up where we left off. About nom de plumes, or pen names, remember? Anyway, she just could not scream out the silent crowd’s fears and frustrations, using her own very true name, could she? Like –

“You who claim to decide for us, to speak for us: uniformly, you take on faces clearly unclear, of inexact exactness, indefinite definiteness, indecisive decisiveness indefensible defensiveness!

You wear a collective poker’s mask, and you keep yourselves safe and snug behind highly-paid security (paid by the people’s money). But you yourselves know, that within your seemingly impenetrable skull – your brain is relentlessly without rest. That within the chest behind your ribs – your cushioned heart is eternally without calm.

You like to talk to the people but your period perpetually dangles undotted at the end of your statements, or it assumes the wishy-washy wiggle and the vague dot of a question mark. You have to threaten the tattooing of an exclamation point to come across with whatever your message is.

It seems to be taking too long for the changing of the guards. But as all living matters are in this primeval-ever world, permanence is impermanent. Sometime soon or later (sooner, what with the earthquakes, volcanoes and tempers erupting) the gods will summon the winds, and their storm shall tear your devilish complicity to shreds. We will all be damned poorer, but we will surely be richer with the experience.

Until then – we will mag-titimpi (patient), mag-titiyaga (wait it out, survive), mag-hihigpit ng sinturon (tighten the belts).” End of quote. No. She could not scream these under her one true name. She puts a finger across her lips. Ssshhh.

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