By Jing Villamil


Living alone too long is actually not too sad. It is exhausting though. You get used to doing everything by yourself. At the end of the day, the homeplace would look sparkling clean and neat. In fact, so much sparkling clean and neat you hesitate to impinge on the neatness and the sparkle – not only that of the floor, but also the furniture, the stove, the fridge, etc. “They” you had allowed to occupy space unoccupied before, space which you originally and freely roamed in carefree, thoughtless abandon. Which you cannot roam now without bumping your ingrowned toenails unto corners and protrusions proclaiming their own importance with which you cannot do without.

You leave a cup, a plate, a spoon on the table, or on the countertop; their surfaces would sparkle less, would look at you dull and forlorn. You neglect to clean the drippings of fat and sauces from the stove, she would hiss and sizzle when next you fire her on, and she would singe or burn to bitter the pot and pans of eatables no longer so tastily eatable. You forget to drain and dry the kettle; the next time he boils, he burps out tepid water with white frothy chlorine unto your four-in-one.

There is the apple. There is the banana. You could eat all at once the flesh and skin. To spare the fridge the frequent open-me pulls and close-me bumps: keep me cool, frozen even, you dumb na nitwit pa!

So, you move less. You try to stay in one spot, your own place. From morn to night. By the window seat, that which look out and beyond to skies and trees, and down to empty streets. From this spot, you learned of a mother and her nine-month old unborn child cremated fast, today’s protocol for unusual death to avoid contamination. Only the test result received days later was negative after the mother & child had settled down to their cold urn. You reach out to the glass, you cry out: the baby could have been saved, if for a speedier result! You learned too of a teener just turning adult, also cremated at once, the test also negative. Cause of death was dengue which had hounded us poor nations for years and years earlier than that which hounds us now. You scratch the glass, you cry out: the parents could have at least touched, hugged their child in loving farewell!

And you learned of a rich man who wanted simply to go home. He tested positive then later tested negative but still needed another negative and a finish to the required quarantine to be declared safe and contamination- free before being allowed to breach the lockdown and the security measures imposed by the hometown. He was driven through the checkpoints with the assistance of a still influential retired general, a fellow hometowner, who provided him with transpo and driver. He passed through the final checkpoint to his hometown with just a call to and from a higher-up government department official. The local town officials were told to hands-off, to let in, to let go.

And at your spot you read of the poorest of the poor starving, of the middle class out of their wits trying to keep their families from starving.

And tears drip from your eyes. So, teared the fridge, the stove, the toaster, the pots. All things human-made and human-touched. Do they weep with you? Or is the beginning summer heat too much for people and things?

Please ask the ancient air cooler. She had been tearing waterfalls ever since.

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