Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Seeing Red

I cannot recall when I first saw it - was it a few months ago, or was it the year before last year? What I do know is that for the longest time now, I've implied, I might even have said it explicitly, that I tend to notice the things people tend to take for granted; tiny details that fail to attract the attention of most of us. I suppose it has been with me since I was young - and now that I think about it, several incidents from the years of yore come to mind, but I think I only became aware of it fourth or fifth grade. I digress, that will be another entry.

It was a few months ago, or it might have been the year before last year, when I saw a red car drop someone off the road along the university while I was at a bakery looking for something to eat for the vigil I devoted to my then overpowering online game addiction. I think the said someone was a student, although I'm not exactly sure. I thought then that it was weird, given that it was three or four in the morning, but I never thought much of it later. Knowing my penchant for noticing things otherwise unnoticed by others, I mentally told myself off for being nosy, although I did know that I am not nosy. In my book, nosiness involves a conscious desire to snoop around before anything actually catches our attention, see for example Aunt Petunia in Harry Potter. I had no such desire back then, and as such declare myself an innocent victim of circumstances and stimuli.

And then it happened.

I stayed up all night last Saturday, having slept all day after the Stargazing Activity our department(more like the department's students, really, but that is another story) organized for the CAS Week drained me of energy. Sunday found me still at the Internet Cafe, along with a lot of other students who decided not to go partying wherever during the previous night. I decided to go home after the rain, which had been going on for a few hours, stopped.

I visited the same bakery to get food because I'm compulsive like that. After doing so, I started heading back to my boarding house. Now, the bakery is elevated - it's on a 35 degree slope, because, yes, Talamban is mountainous and hilly - it is just less pronounced these days because of industrialization. The said slope was slippery, too, in fact, a lot of people have slipped to their indignation and humiliation there, so one has to be careful. As I made my diagonal way down, I held on to the railings of a closed food stall - a method I found to be quite effective a few years back, it so happened that a red car passed by real close - close enough to lightly splash murky puddle water to the lower portion of my shorts. I did not really mind it - I made a quick note to myself to wash upon arriving at my boarding house. I was already passing the closed and therefore barricaded gasoline station when the said car stopped. It was at this time when I recalled the car I saw in the past. I then decided to walk faster, but a few meters after passing it, I told myself off for being presumptuous and for panicking. I relaxed and slowed my stride. I was right across the gates of the university when my pace returned to normal. When I was a few meters past it, the car started again, and slowly accelerated, then stopped just ahead of me.


I still continued walking. I suddenly recalled Johnny Walker's Keep Walking line and smiled at how twisted I was. Here I am, suddenly caught in a strange scene and that thing comes to mind. As I was nearing the car, I had half a mind to stop, tap at the passenger window, and ask the driver, excuse me are you following me? If so, please stop. But some fancies of the mind remain fancies, unless of course one is pushed past his comfort zone and is forced to make them come to reality. As I passed the passenger seat, I glanced at car and glared my most contemptuous, yet subtle, three am glare, and continued walking onwards.

When I got nearer to the alley where my boarding house was, I heard the car start again. When I turned and entered the alley, I could hear it coming closer. I turned my head back as I got nearer to the gate, and saw the car, with the window down and the driver looking at me. I turned my head back and entered the now-unlocked gate.

It would be a full hour before I got over what happened. I wasn't shocked, though. Somehow, I had the feeling that person knew me, and rest assured my spare time with the Tarot shall be to find out who that was. That hour was spent analyzing what happened, and contemplating on a few realizations that hit me. Somehow, it reminded me of how I was the year before. Back then, I might've had more nerve and dared, hoping that I might find what I was looking for in the next stolen moments with people hiding behind pictures and words and messages. I looked for companionship, for love, in the wrong places, and in the wrong people. I recalled how I hoped that the next one would be the one. I recall how those hopes withered and turned to ashes that crumbled at the wind.

We mistake a few things for love, and none is as deadly and as potent as lust when it comes to these delusions. It takes a lot to realize this - in my case, my awakening came with getting fed up with everything that planet chucked at me. It was more insecurity and hurt than those rare moments of pseudo-contentment and pseudo-clarity could make up for. 

It really is not easy to stand by the better choices we make. When we become disenchanted by and give up the things deemed by most lost seekers as the closest things to that one great goal, and choose for ourselves the better things, it is not always rare to have doubts - and oft these things will eat us. This is not too different from deciding to share a portion of our meal to the impoverished right before us - it is a decision that allows us to grow beyond the mortal and physical coils that chain us - to the world and to the norms set by society or the societal niche we navigate in.

It reminds me how there are a lot of stories I want to tell, but their narration is perpetually held back because I think it would be too bothersome to write them. Most decisions are like that - they seem and are most probably bothersome, yes, but oft they are rewarding.


  1. so are you implying that the driver was a predator?

  2. Creepy. I was hoping there for a Stephen King twist... It inspired me to write a fiction story... too bad I'm in the office and now's not the time...

  3. heh, i was thinking of the same thing, too, glentot, i might write it over the weekend. i'd like to read whatever you come up with!