A good friend of mine told me that writing these letters was a dangerous affair. I didn’t understand what he was talking about until I stopped writing for a couple of weeks.
I had to leave Luna for a while and bury my notebook under your pillow. You probably have not noticed it because your bed has a surplus of pillows but I still have the one you donated to me when my house was ransacked by the floods of Ondoy. This might be the reason why I could not get rid of my dreams.
I hoped that the tragic floods washed the bitter taste of my folly when it obliterated my sanctum. I remember that day vividly. It was one of those memories that escaped my forgetfulness. The destruction was just so disheartening that my mind, out of a sense of self-preservation, has imprisoned these memories, so that I may know what to do the next time it happens. Why it has not done the same to my memories of our times together escapes me. Our story is something worth learning from. Maybe my mind has not realized this. But the attempts to write you, even if unsent, should be some indication that although my mind is beginning to forget, my heart should not.
On the dawn of the tragedy, I returned to my house to make an inventory of the damage. The house was not totally destroyed—it can be rebuilt. But most of my books, notebooks, scribbles, sketches and printed drafts of my works have all been washed away. It’s like my mind was washed clean too. Good thing Luna kept all of my current works within her and she was the first one I saved in the flood.
For a time, I took the flood as a sign to begin again. In the same manner that God flooded the earth to cleanse it of the abominations of man, I felt that the flood came to wash and forgive me of the foolishness of my selfish obsession with art. It was around three months after I broke up with you. We were still in touch then, and you were still waiting for me.
After I left the remains of my sanctum, you welcomed me to your home. You embraced me into the comfort of your arms as if I never left you. It took you a while to realize that though you sheltered me back into your embrace, I never really came back to your arms. It was as if I was washed away in the flood and a different man returned. While you helped me clean myself of the oil and grime of the muddy waters that swept Metro Manila, I was, in reality, still lost in the streets of Little Baguio, wading through the floods with my flashlight on, inching along the dark alleys, trying to find my way back to you. I never did.
When I rebuilt my house, I slept on the new mattress my landlord gave me. My room was bare for a few weeks. I would love to spend all of my money to rebuild my library but my savings only allowed me to subsist. For weeks I slept without a pillow. I did not complain but you knew very well it’s not good for my acid reflux to be completely horizontal. My dreams were interrupted in the middle of the night until you sent me a pillow so I can dream comfortably.
That was, I believe, when I started to have these dreams about you. At first, I thought they were just remnants of our memories washed away by the floods. I forget that the waters that ravaged the streets of Metro Manila were not the purified tears from the heavens but the putrid nightmares of us sinners clogged in rivers and sewers. However hard we try to soap our walls and floors, the stench of our apathy remains. The city has unleashed the collected nightmares we have thrown away. We have cleaned our streets and our houses, but our homes still reeked of our sins. Maybe the sense of smell is the gateway to memory. Because the stench unlocks images of the past in our minds and releases the demons of regret in our souls.
The flood was a collective memory we all wanted to forget. But the flood of images would not stop in my head. They were not memories but ghosts and nightmares. The waters in the Metro have subsided. But I was still lost in the flooded labyrinth of Little Baguio. I was still trying to find my way back to you. I couldn’t. The ghosts and nightmares were chasing me within the maze, making it impossible for me to find the exit—to your waiting arms.
And then you got tired of waiting.
I go back to my bed and stare at your pillow. It is breathing and I can smell its breath. I move in, looking closely, to examine its subtle transparent sigh. I see pictures in it, dissolving slowly as it becomes one with the cold thick air. The weather is messed up. It is summer and it is raining. Christmas season is long gone but the air is chilling. It makes the images clearer. I inhale it.
“It is a dangerous affair what you are trying to do,” my friend tells me.
I inhale the memory like a drug. It creeps up into my brain infecting every corner, every nerve. I lift up your pillow and take my notebook. I grab a pen. I find a virgin page. I stab it with all of my sins and regrets. I let it bleed. Black blood flows. Fuck coherence. The page is no virgin anymore. Now, it can be beautiful.