By Aby Weygan
Getting to know a stranger starts with one look. Just one.
This is usually followed by some knuckle crunching, then the usual pushing and shoving, the occasional name calling "Duwag! Duwag!". Now the celebration! Fight! Fight! Exchange of spits, exchange of fists, attempts to grab, fails, attempts to punch, hits, more fists, one boot, one empty beer bottle to the back of the head, hits, more fists, one boot to the face. A foul! Now others join, get ready to rummble!
Sometimes there's a gift like the Blade, nobody saw it. Must have been a kitchen knife. Nobody saw it. Lennel, who wanted to know a stranger, didn't. Now he is bleeding: Leaking blood(from his sides), pouring blood(from his mouth) , dripping blood(from his nose).
Someone is down, someone called the police, everyone runs. Except for Lennel, he proved his masculinity and bravery, HE IS THE MAN! he did not run, run from the fight? no! not even the police! He is the man.
In another time, they(Lennel, Jojo, and Raul) would go to a "washing". A washing is just another round of beer after the "hard" drinks. This would end the night or start another one.
But not this time. Perhaps if you are a joker you could say he is washing. "Washing " himself in his own blood. And later others would do the "washing" for him-washing his blood out of his 16 year old now lifeless body. A poor joke. Of course, there's a bigger joke.
And 16 years ago that joke started with one look, just one.
HOW IT ALL STARTED: Two strangers gave each other one look. Then one touch, two kisses, another touch a deeper kiss. Or was it the small talk first that started with his joke? Does not really matter, nothing really matters. You know the rest, two strangers, one room, one big mistake? the drunkenness, the accident, the room, the father, the mother, the baby, the family? the regret, the room
But still... the life,
The festival , the accident, the life, the regret, the baby, the marriage and all those strangers at the wedding, the accident, the life, the accident, the marriage and all the strangers at the wedding, the life, home and that strange house , the regret, the festival!
But , still..
16 years after, it ends with one look. DOA
High above in his pedestal in heaven GOD looked down, just once. At the same time, sitting smiling in his pit the devil looked up, just once. Out of boredom, they gave this 16 year old kid, out of all the millions and billions of kids out there, one look.
No, that can't be true, for why look at a kid when there are countless men and women who have more reasons to bleed and die? Doesn't matter, everyone is a stranger. And everything is just one big joke?
Back to earth: HOW IT ENDS
Lennel's made up face is now frozen behind a glass. His hands are frozen hands clasped together. Frozen meat. As Lenell's mother and father(two of them), his brothers in arms(Raul and Jojo) his ex-girlfriend Veronica, and all the other strangers at the funeral take turns to give
Now he is on the news, you probably read about his passing, his unfortunate, untimely, unjustified young death. Or you could chance upon his grave and computing the years between the birth date and the death date, you will probably lament. You will probably take one look and you will (probably) sigh, "he is too young".
But there are so many dead strangers, so many strange graves. Most probably you don't remember him. You were never there. If you were, you might have given only one look.
Now Fellow stranger, let us give another look.
LOOKING BACK: One really stormy evening (a year before his death) Lennel was cursing; cursing the weather station, cursing the mayor for not cancelling the classes; cursing himself that he did not bring his umbrella ; cursing the two lovers he was to share the shade with.
The two were wearing the same white PE shirt that Lennel was wearing.
- Evening, around 6:30
- There is a storm(announced signal no. 2 but is evidently signal no.4 )
- There is a small shade near the Baguio Cathedral
- Wet white PE T-shirts sticking to the skin, soaked shoes, wet hair, wet bags, the absent umbrella
- rain, wind, rain, wind, more rain, more wind
- But all these do no matter to those two who were content just hugging each other under that shade, under the storm
- Time and again, they would kiss, or hug each other tighter as if wanting to volt into one body, kiss, hug, kiss, hug, kiss, hug, hug, hug
A lovely sight? depends on who is looking. For what Lennel realized that day was simply that he was lonely.
The knowledge, that these two were there, and the knowledge that he was alone(now lonely), not only here but anywhere was too much. Knowledge is power. Never mind the rain, He stepped out of the shade and walked on until he reached the Baguio cathedral where he gave the cross one look and sang "will you send me an angel"(Scorpions)
He got his wish, a stranger, who was an angel, who became another stranger,
and the Love, that other shelter from the storm that makes strangers of those who enter too fast, of those who stay too long, of those who leave too early, and of those who never enter...
But that's another stranger's strange story. Another face, another stranger, another look, another joke,
It's hard to tell a story in this storm of countless raindrops of countless faces, who do not matter, with whom you can only give one look, of countless eyes who can only give the story one look for it doesn't matter. It's raining again.
Raindrops that fall on our head soon dry or be wiped out, people we no longer remember,
raindrops that never fall on us, all the strangers we will never meet,
raindrops that fall on the gutter and flow down the drain, strangers we stand in line with everyday,
rain now stagnant water on an empty can, all the strangers you are huddled with inside the jeepney
Strangers, raindrops, strangers, raindrops, strangers, raindrops,
1. Meet a stranger! (part 1)
Stand naked in front of the mirror. Take a good look at all the curves. Pinch the bumps, bulges and scars, count the pimples and the wrinkles, poke those moles. Touch everything if you can. Look at the parts you can never show. Then take a closer look, you could ask the 5whs: what, where, when , who and why?
Write a 300 word reaction paper. Add a moral from the narrative of your naked life.
2. Fantasy writing!
Look at a random stranger, and randomly write his/her story from the looks alone. Where did she come from? Where is she going? Who is he? Take another similar stranger, but this time write a different story. This can be done in groups as members take turns telling stories.
Note: this can be done with people you think you know if so the activity is now titled Tsismis writing(metafiction)!
3. Meet(or meat) a stranger! (part 2, metafiction)
Blur the boundaries between fact and fiction, between Author, Reader and Text. Look at a stranger. Give him or her that "look" until that stranger looks at you. Maintain for as long as you want to(or can) and then observe how the text comes to life.