Reflections on the Pavement


I have been walking 20 minutes now; I am growing warm under my denim button-down shirt and faux leather bomber jacket. I have been clutching my navy heavy linen skirt to keep it from grazing the wet pavement. It’s been raining since daybreak, the sky is as gloomy as my eyes, heavy as the headache hanging on my temples. I’m passing through the crowded streets of Bo. Paypay, Banggolo and Perez. It is rush hour now, people are starting to go home, and others are hurriedly culminating whatever transaction they have for the day. In a sleepy little city like Marawi, the day ends at sunset. Nothing follows.

 This is my city. But today it is alienating me like a friend turned foe over a petty argument. It is familiar yet foreign. I see the same face in every one I look at, but a second look tells me that I am mistaken. Desperation boils beneath my frozen skin. Pallor conceals a blush. There is that face I long to see. There is that car that I pray will pass me by. Every grey SUV jolts me into alertness, only to drain my hope down the sink when I realize it is not an Adventure. My composure slowly melting away as my coiffure begins to go wild in the wind and rain. I am losing it. Something unfamiliar is stinging in the corner of my eye. How long has it been since the last time I went home raining with my eyes blurred by a film of unguarded emotions? The reflections on the pavement are beautiful. There is beauty even in the harshness of urbanization, on the peeling asphalt and haphazard cable wires on the posts, and in the mad colors of print ads hanging on every wall.

These reflections are blurry, as blurry as the line of demarcation between good and bad. The pavement is grey of different shades, like society’s patchwork of morals and values. One cannot be truly white as a Grecian building façade and truly be black as a vinyl record. Grey everywhere.  I wonder if I can make a grey slightly whiter by whitewashing. If I try to make it right, will it become truly white? Or will the white paint peel away under the beating of the sun and the bite of the night’s chill?

            I am nearing home now. My thoughts are drifting in and out of his passenger seat. That perfect moment stolen away by a slight mistake. I am cursing under my breath, wishing it lasted longer if it was really the last. One more bite of isaw, one more sip of Coke, one more punch line, and I won’t any longer crave for more. I can let the fog of that afternoon cloak us in oblivion. Or let him take me away with seatbelts left unused. We’ll be chasing the sunset for days and bungee-jumping from the moon. We’ll be walking on fire and taming lions. We’ll build a dream that will put the Tower of Babel to shame and mass murder conventions in a way harsher than the Holocaust. We’ll be rolling on the pure sands of a virgin island and dancing on the dune during a sand storm. And yes I want that too, consummating a vow of endless love under the cover of humid summer skies.

            I can see the maroon gate of our house now. I felt a spasm in my chest, the day is rushing towards its end but still not a trace of that face was seen. Pain gets hopelessly more painful with the knowledge that the cure is out of sight and out of reach. For the twenty-third day in a row, I’d be curling myself up under the covers, nursing a tender wound with thickening itchy crust, stifling sobs with a pillow.

            I’m closing the gate. One can almost see credits rolling wondering why it ended without a closure.

Dear reader: I am sorry for the melancholy overkill. I am a woman with bad PMS.