We Were Sky and Fire
For John Mark Anthony Lutao
I will miss you forever 'kumag-chan'
Skies are majestic, no matter what time of day.
On dawns, they are resplendent with the first touches of light
They are blue and eternal on fine mornings
And turn fiery red on sunsets
On evenings, they become bedecked by stars
And even its inky blankness invite awe.
Fires can transform no matter how small.
A tiny spark changes you
Slow burning fire gives constant warmth
A steady blaze enervates
And a huge conflagration razes the mightiest of cities.
It's warmth is that which is never forgotten.
Once, you and I were sky.
A vast endless expanse we looked up to.
Stars, yes, we gazed upon.
Sunsets, dawn breaks and all that's in between
But the skies can never be owned.
No matter how we try, we can never hug the expanse.
Once, you and I were fires
From tiny sparks to great smoldering blazes
But what sparks and consumes us
Must turn to ashes, just like our bodies.
Now, please be the vast expanse above me
And the fire will burn forever in my heart.
We loved, and that's what matters most.
I will try not to be emotional. I will try my very best. Let me say what you have wanted me to say. What you have waited to hear me say. I love you. Yes, I do. Let me tell you why it took me so long to get around to it. You see, ours was not an easy thing. I think, even before friendster came up with that label, we were labeled as such... It's complicated. I meet you in Mirc. It's a chat program online. You were a refreshing chat. None of the usual questions about asl, stat, pic blah blah. You were funny, you were witty, you were a great chat. Except for one thing. When you did trade pictures with me, I recognized you instantly, and I think my rage boiled to ten thousand degrees. You! You @#%Y^U%*&^(*!!! Of course I know who you are! So! That's why you seem to know what tickles my fancy. Because I assume you know me very well. Then again, I thought that if I played my cards right I will get the better of this still, and maybe, just maybe, get that rare revenge moment. Oh yes! Revenge! After all, you happen to be that third party of that ex who really broke my heart into smithereens! How am I so sure? Well, that's how I discovered his infidelity. I saw your pictures saved in his 'hidden files' in his PC, together with your chat logs. Tsk tsk tsk! Now, now! So I kept chatting with you, I kept flirting and I kept playing coy to see at which point I could have my revenge. But you trumped me by admitting you knew me, and saying that for the past few years, you were actually hoping you'd meet me online, or something like that, on an off chance, because you said you wanted to apologize for what happened. Now that was something! I played along. I still wanted my revenge. So we texted. I used to laugh at your silly lines, limp poetic verses which were very cliches. So pathetic I thought. You were consistent, and persistent.
Then I agreed to meet you for coffee the next chance I had to be in Manila. I was still hooked on my moment of revenge. When I was with you, I started feeling myself softening. You were so tender and gentle. You were sweet, and funny, and caring, and kind, and nice, and cute and... well... hot! Exactly my type! My chubby chinito. You were intelligent. You tickled my brains. You made me laugh. You spoke my language. I can't help it. I was beginning to like you. GADAMMIT! Then you hugged me. OH Fuck! I liked the warmth. So when you asked me if I wanted to spend the night together, I could find no objections. Of course I convinced myself that this is part of my revenge. You were great! No, you were amazing! Yes, this is part of my revenge. So we became friends. Okay fine, friends with benefits. Meet ups over coffee, good talk, good times. Now, I was dumbstruck when you said you wanted to take it to the next level. Ahmmmm...
You said you'd court me properly. Complete with roses, chocolates and poetry. I thought, here it is! My moment of revenge! My turn to crush your heart the way that ex crushed mine. Well, you had it coming didn't you? You were party to this crime of heart breaking weren't you? They weren't exactly what I planned to do, but it was playing out nicely. I will say yes to you, then make you fall ever so deep, and then drop you like a hot potato. Just like that! Simple, and evil! Revenge is a dish best served cold, right?
But I couldn't do it. You were so sincere and wonderful and warm and very nice! I long for the walks we had in Malate. The sit downs on the sidewalk in front of Remedios Church. Endless starbucks coffee. That surprise treat for my birthday at Don Henrico's. God! How did you find out I love DH? How do you know exactly when I want a hot or a cold drink in Starbucks? How do you read my mind and moods for such? You were wonderful.
I had to struggle with my own issues. I could not get past the fact that once upon a time, you were an accomplice to the crime of heart breaking! I even told you derisively that from now on, I will be calling you 'kumag-chan.' Knowing from your chat logs with that ex of mine, that he calls you 'kuma-chan', which means bear in Japanese. You did not miss that, and though you laughed at the suggestion, I saw the sadness in your eyes. And so, you became 'kumag-chan.'
But that did not stop the prosaic-poetry-cliche texts, the roses, chocolates and poetry, so to speak.
But I could not get past. You told me you understand. You still wanted us to be friends. The roses, chocolates and poetry did not stop. Then we began drifting. Mostly because we became busy with work. Then I heard you were dating some one, two or three. I respected that. But...
I missed you. I did!
Then, last night... I was checking my long unattended Friendster account. I saw your update. There was a comment there saying you're gone and that your remains lie in state at so and so Memorial Chapel. I could not believe what I was reading! It can't be true! I know you were sickly but, no, this must be a cruel joke!
This morning, I stared at your emaciated body peacefully asleep in that coffin. I had to go to that Memorial Chapel to find out if it's true. I couldn’t stop myself from crying 'kumag-chan!'
Andaya daya mo naman! Nangiiwan ka! Then your sister asked me.
"Kaibigan mo ba si kuya?"
Her eyes begged the real question.
There and 'kumag-chan' the truth dawned upon me. So I answered truthfully.
"Ahmmm, ano po (whispers to sister) ex ko po sya."
She smiled at me. Squeezed my hand.
Brain Viral Encephalitis
Andaya daya mo naman kumag chan.
I love you, kumag-chan. We, loved, that's what matters most. Farewell...