Goodbye to 2010
All goodbyes are sad. This is no exception. I am sad for all the opportunities I missed to express myself, in vented anger or rapturous ecstatic verbosity, over the past five months of complete silence in this column. For the record, my last column entry was dated July 29 of this year!
There’s no one else to blame but me, of course! The drafts of column entries for Noynoy’s victory it the polls, his inauguration, his 100 days in office, his choices for his cabinet, the first rounds of criticism after the terrible hostage crisis at the Luneta, etc., are still unencoded, couched in sentence fragments understandable only to me!
So here I am, back in the milieu, so to speak, which is a more welcome venue for the expression of my creative impulses. But instead of the usual end of the year review and New Year’s Resolutions, allow me to offer a poem I wrote when last I stayed in Good Old US of A. It’s about winter over there and how different it is from what happens here at about the same time of the year. Let this poem speak for my sentiments at this time and for this time of the year, when Resolutions about being a Better Person (Family, Friend, Colleague, Relative, Citizen, etc.), and to keep oneself fit and ready for the challenges of the Year 2011 scent the air with renewed Hope and Faith in Life.
Winter in the US of A: the cold of freezers everywhere
Boxed in houses severely neat and linear as a math equation;
Muted colors of gray, beige, dusty pink and pale lemon: monotony
Of sedateness, scenery always viewed as from a distance, where
No\sounds can get beyond the windows of vehicles save the music
From the CD player on the dashboard; and in the halls of offices
And malls, people all muffled up in formal black or solemn blue or boring
Brown, an occasional blaze of red or blush of pink to shatter the dull gray hues
Of monotony. This is America?
So muted and so coldly formal, but yet unlike the lambent grace
Of classical art; so cleanly sharp with the mind-dissecting regularity
Of modern art strutting out its alphabet of Abstraction to jolt the human
Eye misted over by nostalgia into boggled awareness of Things as they are,
Here, in America. The harsh cold line of Reality. America.
So muted and so boxed-in, but I can hear my heart beating and
Breaking against the deaf-dumb ceiling of my room, as the wall clock’s
Disapproving clicks harmonize with the ionizer’s patient whining
In the corner.
No Land of freedom, this. Home of the brave? Maybe.
But freer is my Land of the Morning and the scorching heat and
the coconut trees twinkling their leaves merrily in the sun or beating
wildly at each other in a stormy sensurround, where naked, barefoot
children splash gleefully in the rain, and swim with viruses of every kind
in floodwaters which submerge their homes and ragtag dreams and
wipe them out in virulent mudslides, cheating them of their honest funeral
dreams. Somewhere in some ritzy subdivision, air-conditioned cars ride the
mad mud-current to perdition and ruined shores, while
on a rain-splattered pavement a cigarette vendor cum drug-pusher beats
the green light and batuta-wielding policemen and nearly gets
His skull smashed on the asphalt road. But he makes it to the other side, grinning
By the skin of his teeth, and smirks evilly at his pursuers left
gnashing their own teeth on the curb, drenched to their briefs
in rainwater and frustration.
Third World scenarios, these.
But can there be another in this land of Bayan Ko?
I would have no other.
What about you?
The above sentiments do not mean I don’t like the so-called American way. They simply point to the basic difference between two cultures which, in the final analysis, really serve to affirm the basic validity and greatness of each.
Happy New Year to every one!*