Thursday, August 25, 2016

An Ode to Used-to-Be

It took me days to just even think of words to start this blog - so, this prelude. Kanlungan begins to play in the background to invoke a deeper sense of nostalgia.

Since I came home from abroad about a week ago to this place where I was born and raised, I've been having this weird sad thought emanating from no longer seeing the things that used to be part of my younger self. Everything that surrounds me seems to have changed unrecognizably from how they were while others have completely vanished from sight. More than the fact that they're gone, what pains me is realizing I wasn’t there when those inevitable moments had to change and unfold. I'd say I have missed a lot. Would have been easier to bear a one quick deep stab to the heart, but not this long, lingering, overpowering and sometimes haunting sentimentality.

Coming home from miles away is purposely to rekindle with family, friends and all those familiar ties. The joy it brings overwhelms the many nights and moments we're away and suddenly it feels things just get back to the olden days. At the end of the day, that very first night however, as you lie in bed looking straight to the white painted ceiling of the room, trying to recall the last time you were in the exact situation, you smile and you tell yourself nothing's really changed. But a couple more minutes staring blankly at this unadorned ball of light, it sinks in and you realize beyond the walls and its four coordinates, things could never be the same. The people, the places and the period have outgrown our own capsuled idea of how they look and where they stand. That peculiar picture frame is turning gray and old but you still look at that moment as vividly and candidly as the day it was taken.

It makes you feel bad for not being able to see things evolved before your eyes. It makes you feel sorry for the time you were not there as things flourish and fall from its existence. The tall mighty calumpit tree that you used to climb to harvest its fruits when you're young is no longer there. The rough road across your house where you have played countless games as a kiddo is now a concrete pavement making it impossible to run your paper boats on the side whenever there's a heavy downpour where you carelessly bathe in untainted ecstasy. One by one, people in your neighborhood is succumbing to old age and others to illnesses. Like a giant tree whose slowly shedding its leaves to the ground, the images of people and places are steadily fading to memories, soon to be burned and buried, but hopefully never to be forgotten. As the tree branches out and expands its shades, while it  sheds its leaves only to re-grow after sometime, somehow we're stuck in that granule of many summers and monsoons we thought life and time would stay complacent.

Where have all the years gone? Why did all the nipa huts disappear along with the chickens and ducks?  Why don’t I see carabaos pooping on the road anymore?  So much for the cars and tricycles that now pass this road that used to be less travelled.  And where have all the traditional outdoor games that children used to play on a summer afternoon gone? I know every kids I knew have grown up but talking about the new generation. Lastly, where have all the thick green grasses during monsoon seasons gone? I haven’t heard frogs croaking lately and it’s been a long time since I listened to cricket's chirp.

I am finding it hard to move on and accept things at face value. The sight of the rainbow, the smell of the morning breeze and the gentle kiss of the cold rain as it touches my face are taking me back to a layer in time when today was still the uncertain future. Back to the days when the real world was the only world we knew, when the internet is in-existent but the limitless stretch of our imagination, no gadgets just street games, no social media but actual people meeting and talking. Then you kind of ask yourself, what if I had never left. What if I had stayed and witnessed this metamorphosis all throughout?  Would have felt relieved I guess and never had to go through this bitter sweet longing and wistful affection for the unseen past. On the other hand, what would I have made of myself had I stayed in this little town? I am beginning to think of purpose. Things happen for a reason.

As I go back to Dubai where I toil to provide for my family's needs, I know this feeling would eventually die down like water under the bridge, so do are these memories flowing into the vast ocean. Tides would take this back and forth to the shores. Seasons will change. Time will come and go. Past is the precursor of what we have today and we just got to move on.


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