Saturday, August 29, 2009

the taradiddles of a homeless

The western country tunes of the 80’s were filling the early Sunday morning air. Here, at the only temporary refuge that I can afford, the place looks accommodating and kind, but almost desolating with the total absence of sunlight.

It’s 2 am. Yet I was alone, sitting at a small solitary table on a 24-hours establishment facing a sleepless street of Metro Davao. It’s cold out here, in the open air of Panadero bakeshop, but at least, this unfamiliar little place can cater me for three or four more hours until when the oriental dawn breaks in.

At the moment, I’m donning a cup of instant coffee and two pieces of a kind of cookie (I don’t know what it’s called), while I flip my pen, scribbling over my little notepad. I’ve just scrutinized its poor quality, the notepad I mean. Its thin and inadequately bleached pages are reasonably suited for its cheap price – this little pink rectangular stuff for only eight pesos. But I’m glad of its existence, especially at the moment, for it is doing its humble chore – to be blotted by the stream of the ink, through the steering of the hand, through the rhythm of the taradiddles spun by the writer – specifically a homeless writer at this case.

About seven meters at my back, a dozen or so of habal-habal (motorcycle) and tricycle drivers were buzzing over some coin game of them (they call it taksi, I guess, as I heard one of them said in a conversation). They were on stand-by for early morning passengers, occupying themselves with their time killing amusement as they wait.

For every minute that passes as I sit here, the deeper the cold penetrates through the layers beneath my skin. Every van and truck and bus and car and jeepney that gets by fans in a wave of dust and smoke which adds the chill with an unpleasant smell of the damp street. I don’t know if I can last at least an hour longer, but I should have to; I need to. Just a little more time, I can get back to my den again, under the warm and comfortable sheets of my bed.

But apparently, the stretch of time I should endure wouldn’t come to conspire.

My cell phone clock displays 3:56 am. This time, I was sitting on the steps outside a 24-hours convenience store. It started drizzling about ten minutes earlier, so I decided to retreat to this fairly covered place.

Before I went here, about an hour earlier, I had managed to find an establishment that offers a public toilet. Fortunately I haven’t had to search the streets for so long to find one, but unfortunately, it happened to be a bar. As I waited for my order of second cup of coffee, the drunken man at the table adjacent to mine had his head swinging, swinging as he was brought in and out of his consciousness in every interval of three of four seconds. He had certainly drunk more than enough alcohol, as I perceive it. I looked at the empty bottles of liquor scattered on his table, and I counted, there were eight of them. Poor man, either I was sorry for him that perhaps he was an unhappy being that’s why he got so drank, or I was thinking of his deplorable liver, little by little spared by the ruinous liquid, he didn’t have an idea.

At quarter to four, the bar lady announced that they were closing. And so, I had no choice, I had to find another refuge. I wandered under the streetlights, and my feet finally brought me here. Davao Central Convenience Store, that’s the name of the place. On the front steps, beside the entrance door, I sit here, my back resting on the cold cement of the building. Imagining the scenery I was into, I made out a picture of an exhausted young lady, her arms folded tight against her chest, trying to fight the cold, trying to shield her skin off the curtain of drizzle.

And you may ask why. Why was she there, out in the streets, at this sober occasion of the night?

It’s simply because the gate of the boarding house I’m staying was locked, and I just cannot snatch the housekeeper from her dreamy sleep and probably bountiful snores. The battery-operated doorbell had nearly muted its tune as I had pressed its button over and over for almost an hour already. Feeling hopeless and harassed by the blood-hungry mosquitoes, I gave up the miserable device and wandered for shelter when I finally had enough nerves to face the stray dogs on the way.

And so I was here, tiredly gazing at the passing vehicles through the street, fairly aware that the security guard had been scrutinizing my unwanted presence at beside their store doorway. I wish he wouldn’t shove me away like dirt on their business; I don’t want to wander again to find another refuge. My body had long given up to exhaustion after hours of struggling to compose myself against the hard environment of the outside and fighting off falling asleep.

Poor being, she’s utterly homeless. I guess that’s what the passersby had had the impression on their minds. I was aware, surely aware that they stare at my spot, those store costumers, the people walking at the street, the street sweepers. But surprisingly, I hadn’t bothered; I simply cannot find myself to care. It was the dumbness perhaps, compiled by the situation and the inability of my psychological stimuli to operate, tampered by the numbness of my nerve endings due to the angry cold.

A glance at my cell phone clock tells that the sun won’t be out just yet.

Again, it’s cold out here.

Ahhh, way to go.


Babat said...

Now i have seen what you've become. I was kind of "speechless", you may say, as I read your post. As if I was reading a work of an old, yet a very skillful writer writing a memoir of her young present past. Cold and touchy. You wrote it like you were writing through a lens of camera, detailed and grey yet colorful.

taong-gubat said...

hehe. and that's exactly wat I feel at that moment I was writing this...cold and grey.