I’m banishing the past by shovelling down my gulllet half a dozen Takuyaki balls one after the other and following it up with lemon-flavored ice tea to wash off bits and pieces of Takuyakis too reluctant to leave my esophagus. I do this instead of drowning myself in megaliters of booze to drive off the ghosts that haunt me.
Backtrack to a few hours ago; be warned that rants are included in the next few paragraphs.
My brain has been anesthetized by yet another technical paper that spoke of recording the direction of wind-caused erosion in the Appalachian mountains for the good of humanity and for future reference just in case a subdivision will be built there and the developers would be interested to know how much to pay for real-estate insurance. Thought provoking to some degree, I guess. But the collaboration of non-English-speaking authors who did not bother to hire even a 6th grader to edit their work for coherence and sense left me wondering if all the world’s technology are thought up by people who can’t string together a set of sentences that would be readable. I admit; I have days of nasty subject-verb disagreements, and most of my sentences are pocked marked with dangling modifiers, misspellings, syntax errors, misplaced punctuations, etc. But hey, I have not yet submitted something for publication in any scientific magazine that would be thought of as the last word in references. I’d turn green if someone else caught my error if, let’s say, on discussing the rotation of the Earth around its orbit I state that:
Earth rotation be much significance to weather climate-change. Sun be reference to patterns to harvesting, to the climes peoples chart patterns in day to-day activities and seasonal varying to making their life adapts to changes in aspects to weather changing. The authors in past works discussed climate-change to vary with. In time, peoples making all forecast in conditions with processor processing Earth distance in orbit to sun.
I would faint if this is my work. That, ladies and gentler men, ought to give you an idea of the 60-page piece of literary contribution I had to tangle with this morning. But, demmit! I love my job!
So, there I was, already close to frustration. Sometimes, when I feel frustrated, my throat would act up. This morning, it did. I felt my windpipe itch as if I swallowed some sand. I started coughing and had to go to the bathroom to cough with no holds barred. I tried drinking warm water to soothe my throat but still, the coughing persisted. No choice. I had to go out from the cubicle farm to buy mints. Hopefully, my throat wouldn’t act up afterward.
I headed to the cafeteria, trying to calm my throat with deep breaths; I needed it because I was frustrated with the Sino-Franco collaboration of my manuscript that wasn’t making any sense. Mints, mints, I chanted to keep the coughing at bay.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Fates dusted off a ghost sitting in the darkest corner of my memory and threw it right at my path.
There were people in the cafeteria at the hour — job applicants waiting for interviews or exams. I was still counting my breaths when my gaze settled on one of the loiterers in the canteen. There, on one of the plastic seats, smiling with a perfect set of teeth was the last person I wanted to see if Armageddon was nigh. I choked.
Let’s just say that I spent over half a decade of my life with this person and in the end, things didn’t work out for us. There were areas where there weren’t any closures. Oh, that’s actually the truth.
Upon seeing him, friends and neighbors, scenes from our breakup were supplied by my agitated dura mater — must’ve thought that it would distract me from the manuscript I was struggling with.
Then, and then, the man came up to where I stood paying for my mints. “Hi, how are you doing? I never thought I’d see you here,” he said, still smiling.
I resisted the urge to pick up the cover of one of the metal catering trays containing the cafeteria’s specials for the day and whack it across his smiling face. I told myself to be civil… it has been over years and years ago, when I was still barely sane and sober.
It actually worked. My breathing returned to normal. I managed a smile and even offered him mints when I initially considered committing homicide with the metal tray cover. Without prompting, he informed me that he has applied, and was accepted, as an elf in The Shoe Factory. And he informed me that he was in Manila when I was also there months ago but too bad that I didn’t go to see him where he was (why would I care?). I bade him goodbye, telling him that I had work to do. On my way back to the cube farm, I cursed the high attrition rate in the company that cause the Unimaginative Shoemakers to continually hire new people. I cursed HR for making it easy for him to pass the exams (come to think of it, he’s brilliant in the brains department). I cursed the island for being so small that it was inevitable that I’d bump into someone I know or knew every after three passersby.
Hyacinth was in the bathroom and I had to share the news. She listened to me rave at the Fates, afraid that I was close to having a nervous breakdown.
After a few moments, I managed shut up but I was still roiling inside. I never realized that I had never let the anger dissipate over those years. It took an article from hell and a sore throat to uncork all those bottled anger over something that happened when I was feckless and reckless that resulted in so much guilt feelings for me. I attempted to work again but the words just float before me in a messier stew of incoherence to the ninth power.
The hours to off time seemed to take longer to be over. I was assaulted again by memories. I cringed at some of them. Tracer, sitting next to me, must have sensed my unease. “Difficult shoe?” he asked. I just nodded. He left it at that.
Off hour saw me dashing off to take shelter in the boarding house, to sleep off the nightmare.
Maybe, just maybe, the Fates knew I needed this challenge. To finally face my past and cull the truth from all the rancid lies. Then maybe, just maybe, I will be free to face tomorrow with the knowledge that another mask has been shed.