Tuesday, June 29, 2010

To Hold a Sunlight

This is the life story of my bosom friend.

"I'm going to die when I'm thirty," she declared for the umpteenth time. Every time she told me that, I would just laugh it off, not believing a word of it. But when she read that disbelief on my face, she would add, "It's true, you don't believe me? You will see." She was only in her early twenties, and for her, life has become a sunlight that faded into spectral gray.

That's my friend, always raving about the what-ifs of her young life, making up an imaginary existence which is diametrically different from her present life. What if she would "die", or erase her life now and take on a new identity and live someplace where nobody knew her? That was real excitement for her.

Her frenzied talks seemed to me like an escape from this world that has turned against her. She has lost all of them, those she held dear in her heart. Her real parents ruthlessly abandoned her when she was a little girl. Her aunt and uncle took up the responsibility to raise her up as their own daughter until death's insatiable voracity swallowed them up. And how many more would she lose in the future? Her relatives, her friends? Why not leave first before they would leave her?

One day, I tried to reach her. No reply. Her cell phone was out of service. For many days, I kept trying to get in touch with her but without success. Then it dawned on me that she was a month closer to age thirty. Meaning? Was she preparing for that big day when she would march out of this world and step into a whole new existence? Or to an unknown non-existence?

A picture of her in her most agonizing moments kept recurring in my mind. She sat in a sofa, clutching an urn against her chest and crying silently. I can imagine that beneath her silent cry was an agonizingly thunderous scream that burst out within the perimeters of her heart, an internal explosion that she could not allow to escape from her soul. She was alone now, more alone than she had ever been. Her only company at that moment was her Mama, who had just turned into ashes and settled at the bottom of that urn that she was holding. Another person she unconsciously cared about had left her again. That was the final blow for her. Resignedly, she let her life start to go downhill, not caring anymore where life would lead her. She admitted that she had no reason to live anymore.

I see her as a little girl holding in her palm a circle of sparkling sunlight that filters through an opening in a canopy of leaves, but could not keep it. For the circle of light must move on, making it impossible to hold forever. No matter how resolutely she would chase it and grasp it tightly, still, it inevitably slipped out of her grip, and she could never possess it. Like the elusive sunlight, something that she wanted to own forever kept slipping away from her. For her, holding out her hand to catch the sunlight was a never-ending task that would always leave her young life in tatters.

The idea of the possibility that she had taken on a new identity was still playing on my mind when I received a text message from her. "Hi there! How are you doing? Are you free for lunch today?" So she was alive and still the same person! That put me at ease. She didn't "die" at age thirty.

But I was wrong. She did die in a sense. Recently, it appeared that she had captured a new sunlight in her palm again, which sparked her to life. And she was able to keep that sunlight until now. However, it is a fake sunlight. It is in reality darkness coated with a shining light, of which she is well aware. That is why she said that she presently lived in a secret place where darkness concealed and protected her from the world, and she was comfortable in that darkness.

So she is gone. Gone to a new life in her self-built darkness. She has stopped chasing after sunlight. The feigned sunlight that she is holding now is just what she needs to keep living in the deathly realm which has become a snug home for her.

And I'm left wondering if she would ever emerge from her home of darkness and live again. I'm holding on to the hope that one day, she will rise to a new life and come out in the sun, bathing in the warmth of divine light. And she will no longer attempt to chase and hold a circle of light because she will be surrounded all over by the living light.