Tag Archives: memories


Meet Lizzy. She’s a survivor.

Once upon a time, there were a lot of them. There was Tommy, Abigail, Lucy, the gypsy triplets Scheherazade, Esmeralda, and Aurora, the English one Emily, Annie the country girl, Mollie the baby and a lot more but I have forgotten their names already.    

Out of the 27 pieces of antique porcelain dolls in my collection, she alone escaped the wrath of my ex-husband when during one of his drunken episodes he decided to murder all of them using a screwdriver. He stabbed them one by one right in the face. One doll I found his weapon of choice still buried deep in one eye. Luckily he passed out before he could damage my beloved Lizzy. The reason? He got none aside from his opinion that I loved the dolls more than him and spent more time in their company than in his.

It reminds me of the time he flushed my goldfish down the toilet and let out my parakeets in the middle of the winter, killed the giant pothos his late grandmother had given me, removing the leaves one by one until there was nothing left but the climbing pole for exactly the same reason: They took so much of my time he said. Well, it’s all water under the bridge now. 

Lizzy’s face neck and chest together with her arms and legs are made of porcelain and the only doll in my collection who has movable joints. I love her big innocent sorrowful chocolate brown eyes, baby limbs, and pouty lips, her traditional attire too. When I finally had the courage to walked out from the hell house, I took nothing but the clothes on my back and Lizzy. 

You can read the rest of our journey to freedom here.



We moved to a much smaller house in the suburb two years ago after selling our six bedroom Edwardian property in the country. The place was too big for just the two of us. It was a hell to clean and even more difficult to heat up properly. Period houses are money pits that demand bottomless pockets and tireless enthusiasm from the owners. We found out we lack the dedication and the courage to keep up.

Moving the contents of a bigger space to a smaller one proved to be impossible. We get rid of all the furniture and sold most of the trimmings. The ones that nobody wanted to buy, we donated to charity, but still our new garage is full to the brim it is an ordeal to navigate in there. Day by day we try to sort things out, keep what we need and get rid of the rest. I found out that those that carry emotional values are the ones that hard to say goodbye to, I still have bunch of silk flowers and plants lined up on a top of a big picnic table together with vases, candles and candle holders, figurines, books, albums, videos and cds. Throwing them away is like throwing all your experiences, deleting your past life, erasing your memories. As if you trying to start fresh as someone else.

The other day I opened one of the boxes to sort out and I found this small yellow stone on top of a pile of ledgers from previous courses. It has very fine yellow crystals, probably quartz. They shimmer under a light or in the sun. The stone is beautifully nondescript and unusually singular. I never seen another stone like it.  But what makes it more special is the story behind it and the person who gave it to me.

Arjay was just a boy from the neighborhood. One of those children who accompany me wherever I go whether I like it or not. He was the first to jump in a tricycle if I was about to go somewhere, most of the times without permission from his parents. Only now I did realize the seriousness of the situation. I was the only adult among them. I was solely responsible for their safety and well beings. Those minors who hiked, swim, climbed waterfalls and rooftops, spent overnight in the mountains with me were vulnerable. Anything could happen and what then? But that time, those thoughts were the last things in my mind. To me, I was in vacation, my time was limited, every second counts. I have to make the most of it and I savor every moment without thinking of the consequences and there were few. Nothing serious. More damaging to my reputation than anything else. I gladly took those too. Who cares about what other people think when I know the truth.

Among those youngsters who followed me around was Arjay, a cute enthusiastic kid who was small for his age. I thought he was ten- twelve years old, I was surprised to find out later on that he was two years older than I originally assumed, he was fourteen. One time we were sleeping in the house of one of my Godmother’s boarders in the mountains when in the middle of the night I found Arjay staring at me, his face inches away from mine. His presence was not the reason why I suddenly woke up, it was the noises that the other boarders were making that aroused me from my slumber; they said Arjay was trying to kiss me. I thought it was a joke (what else it could be?) and shrugged it off but when it happened again and again I asked his mother what was the matter with Arjay, she said he had nightmares sometimes. I was so relief to finally get some explanation of what was happening with him. The kid had nightmares. No wonder he was acting strange.

He continued to to be part of my vacation each year since then. If we were at some party and I got tired and wanted to lie down, he will suddenly got a headache and insisted on being in the same room or bed with me. Luckily there was another kid who kept an eye on Arjay (or me) and every time he saw that Arjay was acting strange again he will see to it that he was in the same room with us. If I leave he goes with me, if Arjay goes, he stays. Kids.

I didn’t know the whole story and I didn’t ask for the reason why one day the kid asked Arjay to settle their differences by fighting it out. According to him Arjay was unrespectful and what he was doing was wrong. I don’t understand but I find that it’s not my place to ask and leave it at that. As far as I know, Arjay didn’t accept the challenge which was a relief because they were both good kids. I would hate to be in the middle of adolescents conflict and the last thing I would want to do is to choose sides. Their mothers are both my Godmothers. They were like brothers to me. 

My mother died and I stop going home. I have no reason anymore to comeback so I lost sight of the bunch. I saw their profiles on Facebook, they are grown ups now and some of them are married and have family of their own. Arjay got married just last month. He has become a good looking young man like I thought he is going to be. Still small but presentable. I made a mistake of connecting with them a year ago and regretted in an instance my decision when I was bombarded with personal messages and telephone numbers. I quickly turned off my profile and never returned the messages. Personal contact isn’t my cup of tea and rekindling past relationships doesn’t set good with me. I rather leave the past in the past so it stays that way and I am able to visit whatever it is in my memory whenever I feel the need to do so. I find that tampering with what has been taint the memories somehow, ruining the good part and altering if not erasing the original stories. I rather remember them how they were and keep what we had the way it was than risk changing the impression they left in my recollection of the good old days when all of us were still innocent and young…


In Another Lifetime

This song sums up my past affairs (yes affairs plural) and for the most part, the greatest times of my life. They are echos now, but those brief moments had given me unforgettable memories I often revisit when I need a place to hide or something to sustains me when the weather is bad the company dull the evenings dark and the morning cold.

Daily Prompt: Sincere



Do you remember the time you were serenading me across the street on your knees while your friends were hovering in the background encouraging you? How about purposely throwing away important basketball matches simply because you thought I was more concerned about Jethro’s game injuries than yours?

You were so childish. You were only 17 after all. But it was not an enough excuse to behave like a four year old. Remember, you only going to ride in a vehicle if it is maroon, fairly new and with sound system on board? How about the times you refused to leave a mall arcade unless you get an ice cream sundae?  You know why I tolerated you as much? Because I thought your mother was a friend of mine. Well, she was; until…

Did you forget already that you got so angry with me because I didn’t wait for you to come home from school so we can go to the cinema and watch Titanic? I went with Leo instead. You must know that I am not the type to wait. I have my own schedule and it doesn’t stand still for anyone. Not even you.

You were full of yourself. You demand constant attention from everyone and will do anything to get it. Like disturbing a team meeting by coming so late, singing a song while putting off your shirt. Or ringing me hundred times a night till my brother had enough and hanged up the phone on you.

I don’t know why you did those things, you lived just across the street from me, your bedroom was facing mine, and I could even see you while you were making those calls.

Do you think singing: “There was a time in my life when I open my eyes and there you are” at 4:00 in the morning was cute? No, it was not!

Louie cannot appreciate (who can?) that you kept scandalizing us whenever you saw us together. Hindi ka nakakatuwa, even when you waited for hours outside our gate because I refused to talk to you.

Probably the only thing you did right was when you invited me to dinner on Valentines Day and gave me… ah-hum…roses and sang a song for me.  But you made so much drama out of it that it eclipsed whatever good intention you might had.

People found strange that you had to interrupt the performer in the middle of her repertoire to ask for the microphone so you can blurt out “Remember me” by Renz Verano, and Jesus! You could not even sing!

When you stood up to offer me the flowers in exchange for a peak on the cheek you got applause from everybody, and that seemed to encourage you to act up further. Every time I reached for your gift, you re-tract your hand and hid it behind your back just to repeat your infantile performance over and over again.

I wanted to walk out; leave you there on your own; but one of us had to be an adult and it will never be you.

It didn’t end well between us, isn’t it? I should not have taken you to court for harassment, but you left me no choice! The concept of “no is no” was not only unheard of but totally not acceptable for you. I know that you are used to getting what you want all the time, but I am not like everybody else; I can only tolerate that much. Enough is enough.

When you started calling my name in the videoke almost every night and you didn’t return a piece of my personal clothing you took without me knowing… then I knew it was time for me to do the right thing; teach you a lesson.

Your mom will never forgive me, I know that. Her ego could not take that someone would dare to defy her and shame your elite influential family. Well, I guess you all didn’t know me. Nobody but nobody can intimidate yours truly. At least, your brother understood, and why not? He knows you after all.

I heard you didn’t make it to UAAP, you become an engineer instead.

And I am right about your daddy am I not?

Another blow on the carefully staged image of your mother.

If only she had believed me then.

Anyway, all water under the bridge now. But they say you still the same, still treating women like your MVP trophies. I can believe it.

The last time I saw you, you greeted me as if it was only yesterday. You even tried to stop me from walking away from you by grabbing my wrist.

You’re lucky I didn’t smack you right on the face. It will probably wipe off that perpetual smug look on it. Kudos though, you can read expression now. No need for me to say something. One look from me and you let go of my arm. I can’t forget the disbelief that was written on your face while I was walking away. You read it right, I DON’T DO THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE.


ritual burning 2e

Memories Of Childhood

Since I I left my home country along, long time ago,
I miss a lot of things, the food, the sounds, the ambiance and the weather…
The way the rain feels on my skin when I run around the beach,
My hair flapping in the wind or drying in a gentle breeze.

My father with his fishing net, my mother cooking our favorite food,
My siblings playing with each other while I was pretending to be a pirate…
Chickens running everywhere, we had a dozen of loyal dogs,
They were guarding the property, day and night, hail and storm.

Up until now till forever my favorite food is seafood,
I grew up surrounded with crabs, shrimps, lobsters, fish and scallops…
Meat was then foreign to us we had it only on Sundays,
If we’re lucky we feast on it, on New Year’s eve or Christmas dinner.

Life was hard, we didn’t have too much of material things,
we had couple of blankets, selfmade pillows, plastic cups, plates and saucers…
Table and chairs we never had, no TV, phone or computer,
But we owned a transistor radio, my father’s most prized possession.

Now I have a lot of things, I owned a couple of houses,
A manor in the country side and a modern cottage in the suburb…
We ride the latest model of Gran Turismo 3 BMW
And on the side we also have a jeep GLC Mercedes (I have pictures, it’s not exaggerated)

But I will exchange my life now  if I can go back then,
I will gladly switch existence with my former self without a second thought…
Only it is impossible I now long established here,
I get used to the luxurious life I bet I cannot survive there.

But the most important is my children are here with me,
The only positive outcome of my disastrous previous marriage…
I cannot leave them no matter what, they are my joy and my pride,
I want to see them get married, have children, be successful and fall in -love.

So, in my head I will go back to that place in my memory,
When everything was so simple and life was happy and carefree…
I will hold onto the feelings, the sensation and the flavor,
Of long forgotten years when I was young, innocent, sweet and healthy…


Always Something There to Remind Me

A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.

Wow! This particular prompt is popular. By the time I came back from hiking (around 20:43) and saw it, there was already 212 people responded to the challenge that I had some momentary doubt if it is still worth adding mine to the list. But I thought: why not? What I’ve got to lose? The worst thing that could happen is nobody like it and even then…

Okay, enough chit-chat, let’s start answering the prompt. 

Like I said before, I don’t listen to music unless it evokes certain feelings, people, places and memories; otherwise they are just plain noise to me. A little intermission: while I was writing this there was a big fly trapped inside the window panes and it was making too much sounds I had to chase and kill it. Excuse me for a minute while I attend to the matter at hand. Be right back.

That was taken care of nicely. Where are we? Ah, songs I listen to which evoke memories… I’ll always love you by Michael Johnson. It reminds me of the night of my birthday about eleven years ago when I was dancing with someone in our terrace without music. Instead, he was singing that song softly in my ear. 

What else? Ordinary song by Mark Velasco… the night Monday failed to study for his mid-term exam because he was singing that song to me while strumming his guitar. We were sitting on the floor of the boarding house at one o’clock in the morning, back against the wall, he was half naked (I didn’t know why exactly) just looking into each other eyes.

Here I am by Air Supply. The time I broke up with someone because he had acquired a tattoo without telling me first and I hate guys who treat their bodies like paper. Few days later I was at my friend’s house and she dialed the phone. I thought she was calling someone (and indeed I was right ) for herself, then she passed me the horn  and the first thing I heard was the song, my ex-boyfriend came on the phone afterwards and asked me if like it, the next day we’re back together. But not for long…

Now for the real deal it got to be Heaven by Bryan Adams. I can’t say much because of privacy matters of all the people concerned. All I can say is: just like the song “but how can I forget you, when there is always something there to remind me


They say…

Which good memories are better — the recent and vivid ones, or those that time has covered in a sweet haze?

They say memories tend to sweeten after a time, well… they don’t have my memories.

They say time heals every wound. Well, they don’t have my wounds.

They say that often times we filled in the gap in our memories with the things that never really happened. In my case it isn’t true. Recent memories are easily forgotten because they don’t hold any significance while the ones from a long time ago are still so vividly engraved in my brain. 

They say the worst memories stick with us, while the nice ones always seem to slip through our fingers.

They say Memories are bullets. Some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces. Well, that’s true for me. There are memories that time does not erase… Forever does not make loss forgettable, only bearable.

Time does not bring relief; who told me time would ease me of my pain. You all have lied 

“The days aren’t discarded or collected, they are bees
that burned with sweetness or maddened
the sting: the struggle continues,
the journeys go and come between honey and pain.
No, the net of years doesn’t unweave: there is no net.
They don’t fall drop by drop from a river: there is no river.
Sleep doesn’t divide life into halves,
or action, or silence, or honor:
life is like a stone, a single motion,
a lonesome bonfire reflected on the leaves,
an arrow, only one, slow or swift, a metal
that climbs or descends burning in your bones.”

~ Pablo Neruda


Phase Out

Of all the technologies that have gone extinct in your lifetime, which one do you miss the most?

Jukebox! And vinyl of course, it goes without saying. I remember spending all of my lunch money on playing all my favorite songs. That was way back in the ’80s. Those were the days. When all the good music died. 



We’ve been asked to write the blurb for the book jacket of the book we would write, if only we had the time and inclination. Here is what first came to mind. Forgive the chaos. I’m tired and feeling lost somehow after walking for more than twelve hours two days in a row. Here it is…

“She’s back!” Michael uttered to himself over and over again in disbelief. Who could have guessed that she would be back? No one! Not even him. Although God knows how much he had hold on to that single thread of hope as if his own life depends on it.  No matter how impossible and elusive it may seem, he kept on hanging, believing with all of his heart that one day this moment will come. And there she was__ in flesh and blood, not part of his dream or imagination. How many times he envisioned this meeting? He lost count already. Now she’s finally here standing before him wearing her familiar smile, the one he had fallen hard for five years ago; and the memories came rushing in. In his mind, it was raining again and he was sitting in the porch of a friend’s house attending his sister’s birthday party when suddenly a Honda Dax surged out of nowhere and stopped in front of him, atop the bike was a girl so sexy and gorgeous his world stopped from turning. And it had been like that for five years. Now she’s back and he can start living again…

How’s that? Good enough?



Travelling backwards

For hours I’ve been racking my brain to come up with any annual fair, festival, or conference that would cause me heartbreak if it would be cancelled forever, but I cannot come up with any. Not that I have never been to one of those because I certainly did. But the ones that I’ve been to, I still deeply regret attending, so much so that a mere suggestion of going to such events can send my brain into instant panic. I’m sure those experiences incurred some considerable damage in my fragile disposition. Of course I am only joking.

The truth is I hate crowds, and I hate noises. But what I hate the most is: having to pay to be in the middle of it.

On the other hand, there were some establishments I wish still exist.  Like that wonderful tearoom in town which served delightful scones and special teas I could go there every day if I can. There was also a trendy brasserie next to the plant center I often visited in the past that offered divine coffee with all those delicious trimmings. They are closed now, gone; never to be back again. The only reason I could think of why it had happened is: people no matter what they say are not yet ready for changes. They rather embraced inferior whatever in exchange for familiarity. The quote: “People fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer.” Comes to mind but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate in this case. All I know is those places I mentioned… they had one thing in common; they were ahead of their time. And being fashion- forward in a small town is a risky thing to do.

Shampoos, deodorants, soaps… there were some that I would like to see again but unfortunately they are now phased-out. Jurassic style mobile phones, I love them too. They are user-friendly and fit in the pockets. But high-tech is the new norm these days, the more complex the gadgets the better and they are not even pocket-friendly. 

Oh, and River Phoenix , I love for him to be alive today. Boy, that guy had real talent. Not the I-look-good- who-cares-about-talent-as-long-as-I-can-read-and memorized-the-script sort of talents (tempted, but I will not mention names in order not to offend some sensitive fans out there) we see more and more these days.  River Phoenix had depth and can convey range of emotions without being in your face. Think about My own private Idaho, Dog fight and Running on empty. But I guess he was not happy with himself (and probably with people around him) because he’s dead now. Just another Hollywood accident. Which reminds me of a very talented young woman who died very recently (no, not Peaches G.) Amy Winehouse. Back to black is a masterpiece if you ask me. But who am I to judge? Like I said, I know nothing about music and whatever I’m saying is subject to a debate but please, not now and not here. Maybe some other time.

Another thing I wish didn’t go out of fashion is vinyl. I remember seeing a compact disc for the first time it was so small and shiny it scared the hell out of me. So much so that I didn’t touch it for two years. After that, I had no choice anymore.

The first single I bought from my baby-sitting money was ‘Through the years’ by Kenny Rogers. The only song in my repertoire that is not connected to any memories aside from that was my first of the only two vinyl I personally owned. I don’t have them anymore now.

But the thing I would mostly want to be back in fashion is the jukebox. Lord that would be a blast. There used to be one in every restaurant in my town. Me and my contemporaries spent every single penny of our pocket money playing that thing. It was so wonderful to watch the mechanical arm of the jukebox unfold and reach out, hovering above the collection, going slowly back and forth. I imagined its slight hesitation as if thinking, then the arm will suddenly drop down and finally select one single to play, and then it will raise itself up again holding the chosen item and will drop it carefully on the turn table. After a while, you will hear your favourite song playing in the air.

Those were the days…



“I wear my shadows where they’re harder to see, but they follow me everywhere. I guess that should tell me, I’m travelling toward light.”

(Bruce Cockburn)

I didn’t know why I came home early that day. It could have been the rain that was pouring steadily since early that morning; I didn’t want to be caught in the dark with that kind of weather. It was bad enough I could not afford a bus fare and had to walk the five kilometers from school to where I live, but doing it in the downpour would be the icing on the cake. It was my luck our adviser didn’t put a fight when I asked to be excused. I finished the exam earlier than the rest of the class, and since it was the last subject for the day, she allowed me to head home.

Approaching the house, I heard a muffled conversation between my parents. It stopped me right on my track. I hesitated if I had to announce my presence by means of coughing or whistling to give them time to stop whatever they were discussing about or just simply walk in. Others might find it exciting to eavesdrop on people. I knew some of my classmates love to spy on teachers during lunch break, but I would never understand their fascination. I respect people’s privacy too much.

I was about to sing a tune to let them know I was home when I heard my name being mentioned.

“She’s doing well in school. It would be a pity to let her drop out this year.” My mother said.

“That’s all she is good for. I tell you, that girl ought to marry a millionaire. The notions she has in her muddled head! Fine arts? Journalism? Mass communication? Do you understand all that? Why she cannot pick a course that will guarantee her a secure job and better salary? I don’t know any more what to do with that girl! She has her head in the clouds!”

“Don’t be too hasty. She’s different, that’s all. Perhaps she’s going to turn around and become more practical, more of this world instead of wandering around and scribbling about. I’ll talk to her.”

“Talk to her? You ought to slap her you mean? Maybe a good shuffle will bring sense to her crazy ideas. Why she cannot be like her sister Maricor? That one has guts! You saw how she fought yesterday? The poor boy didn’t have a chance. She has nasty left hooks! I have to train her more.”

“Yeah, She’s all that and more but I’m worried about her though. Why she had to steal that bike? I can just sink in the ground when that kind police officer brought her home. Her teachers said she’s not attending some of her classes, and I caught her the other day with one of your cigarettes. That girl is becoming a handful, our Maricor.”

“She didn’t steal the bike! She borrowed it from one of her classmates. She just lost track of time and forget to return the damn thing. It’s not a big deal. As for the cigarettes… I guess it’s just one of those things that kids get curious about. Don’t sweat it. Maricor knows her way around. She can take care of herself. She is our best bet to get us out of poverty. That girl has a sensible head on her shoulders, and damn daring as well. I almost wish she is a boy.”

I was shocked! How can they say that? My sister Maricor? Didn’t my father just throw her down the stairs the other day? She had broken ribs to prove it. He caught her smooching with the neighbours boy when she supposed to be sleeping! She systematically was emptying my mother’s piggy bank to bet on basketball matches instead of attending her classes for heaven’s sake!  Her school notes were full of songs written backwards. She scared me sometimes.

I remember the evening I found a miniature prayer book under her pillow. I was so excited to read the contents I was half way the first paragraph when I realized that I was not reading prayers but explicit details about sex. I was shaking violently afterwards I ended up with fever and was not able to attend school the next day. And now my parents honestly think that she is their sure ticket out of poverty? I don’t understand!

My mother came down after a while, found me dilly-dallying (her words) and scolded me for it. The week after that incident, my sister had run off with a boy we had never seen before. She came back after three weeks, pregnant. The baby was still-born. After the funeral, my sister headed off for the big city, alone. We never see her again…

I wonder sometimes if I have spoken that time about everything I knew regarding my elder sister, could my parents have prevented her from running away?



I was born and bred in a fish pond. My father had always been a caretaker of such property across the country, which by far the only decent job he was able to hold being unschooled wandering gypsy.

Living in such place(s) had advantages and disadvantages (like living anywhere else I guess. Just don’t ask me because I can’t compare) but we made do. What choice did we have?

Battling typhoon after typhoon when you live in an open space cheek by jowl with the sea is by no means a joke I can tell you. Especially when your livelihood depends on the weather and whatever force(s) of nature decided to come and visit you. A transistor radio was my father’s most cherished possession for obvious reasons. I remember laying batteries next to each other under the blazing sun to prolong/re-enforced its capacity. I had experienced being in a shack when a Tsunami cleared it away clean as if nothing had been there, or waking up in the pouring rain because some storm split our cottage in half. Things like that.

Isolation, in my eyes is the hardest cross to bear when someone inhabits a space in the middle of nowhere. Primarily for my mother who came from a well-to-do family and was a very sociable person. To find herself saddled with six very young children whom she had to attend to and educate with meager resources must have been quite a  trial for her. 

To us siblings, isolation means growing up not being socially adept. You see, when one is only dealing with ones immediate family, one doesn’t have to lie and deceive or conform to social rules. The direct result of that upbringing is a bunch of adults who are brutally honest.

 There were fond memories as well, particularly during my childhood when exploring was my main preoccupation and oh, boy there are lots of corners a child can explore in aforesaid settings. But the joint activity we all enjoyed was harvesting the bounty the place had to offer, any time we feel like. I remember watching shrimp’s eyes glow in the dark when my father scooped them with a net for supper, or shrieking with joy when the fish jumps happily every time my father piped in fresh supply of salt water.  If the boredom strikes, we can always take our fishing poles and try to catch fish the hard way while our feet dangled in the water singing on the top of our lungs.  Coaxing crabs out of their hiding holes could be a lot of fun too if one is careful enough not to get bitten. I still miss that simple (way of) life.

Being feed by endless supply of seafood could make someone easily conclude that my favourite meal would be anything that contains any of these delicacies, and that is mainly true; but__ and it is a big but 🙂 they are not the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted me and has deep roots in my memory. Hold your breath, here it is… pork chops (or any type of meat but in particular pork chops) are the one I (we, siblings) associated all those happy feelings.

We cannot afford to buy meat during those times. Seafood is there for the taking, but meat we eat only on Sundays. My father was paid weekly, and my mother always shopped after the mass, bringing supply for the whole week; and pork chops was always on the list together with ripe mangoes. Sunday was the only day we were allowed to have desserts, and it was always ripe mangoes.  

I remember bargaining at school’s Christmas party with fellow students and teachers, asking if they want to exchange their meat for crabs or anything seafood; so desperate I was.

As a young adult, I was a bona fide carnivorous and continued to be one till about fifteen years ago when I decided to adapt a healthier lifestyle. In the first years of my conversion, I banned meat altogether. Only lately, it finds its way back in my menu once in a while. I will still not consume them daily but every time I sit at the table and I have pork chops before me, the meal becomes a feast. It never failed to bring back sweet (and not sweet) memories, sights, smell, sounds included…   




…there is that place again, a stretch of white sand beach backed by low limestone cliffs. On the top of the cliffs, there is a winding road leading to nowhere. Along the beach, there is a group of houses, five in total standing side by side.

These dwellings are separated from the water by a long stretch of medium height fence made of dried harvested saplings. Next to it is a concrete path connecting the houses. These habitats are more or less alike; each has a balcony facing the ocean, you enter it from the left side.

Once inside, you will find yourself in a make-shift kitchen under an extended portion of the roof with hard packed dirt as floor and a bamboo counter which contains nothing but three pieces of rocks placed in a triangular position for cooking.

A set of bamboo steps will lead you up to the balcony. If you stand with your back to the water, there is a door directly in front of you which leads to a small sitting area. The bedroom and the bathroom are next to each other at the back of the property; one has to negotiate few steps down to gain access to these two rooms for they are built considerably lower than the rest of the house.

The first humble abode is occupied by a single man who owned a motorbike one could rent to go to town. He used to work abroad and has an easy smile and a nervous but sunny disposition.

Next to it is the house I seem always coming home to because I ended up there a lot. I sleep there as well.

The third one is owned by a young dark beautiful woman with two children, a boy of few months old whom I adore and love, and a girl of about eleven. Her man works on a fishing boat and comes home only occasionally. The woman seems to like me a lot for she always talks to me about anything and everything.

She has two close friends, an older cheaply made sexy loud woman who is married to a military man and often eyeing me with undisguised curiosity, and a very handsome young educated nicely dressed gay man who talks with a clipped accent and bears an unmistakable good breeding and upper middle-class background. He looks at me with quiet interest.

Next to this is a shop managed by an elderly couple with a spinster daughter who is timid but has a surprising habit of speaking her mind on rare occasions when one less expects it.

The father, who is also the chief of the whole place gives an impression of the only one in the whole neighbourhood who truly understands what I’m all about and often corrects anyone’s wrong assumption which is mostly bordering on accusations born out of ignorance.

The mother, on the other hand, likes me for the simplest of reason: she likes everybody who doesn’t rub her the wrong way.

Others inhabitants of the place who are by the way always grouping on the front of the shop are still faceless but familiar presence.

The last residence is a small restaurant (If one can call it like that) they sell different kinds of food in pots sitting side by side on the front of an open window. There are a couple of tables placed randomly inside and outside; one can eat a meal there if desired. I do mine because apparently, I don’t cook.

The mother and daughter who own the establishment is a friendly pair and always go out of their way to provide what they think my favourite dishes are. I show my appreciation by consuming whatever they have to offer and always thank both of them politely.  

Five hundred meters from this small community, standing apart and alone is the most beautiful native hut I’ve ever seen in my life. It is bigger too. The whole construction is made of varnished bamboo with a red tinge in it. There is a hammock hanging on the balcony where I sleep sometimes. A boy of around eleven lives there (I thought at first and for a long time) all by himself.

I’ve met him one afternoon I was walking along the stretch of sand (a habit I seemed developed since ending up in that place) and saw him pulling a small blue boat out the water. The next day, I found him sitting on the steps of my house waiting for me. He was carrying a plastic bag which contains a laminated photograph of his mother who died giving birth to him. She looks exactly like me.  

Farther in the distance where the beach made a sudden turn to the left is a group of tall boulders huddled together as if protecting each other from the forces of nature. Under them is a cavity one can take shelter from the rain if necessary. I know I’ve been there already with someone. But the person is still shapeless in my mind. Maybe later I could remember more….

I dream about this place over and over again for a year now, and I cannot understand why. Sometimes the events are always the same. But other times, not. Some occurrences are missing from the previous occasions and other ones replace them. There are nights that other characters have been added and the plot becomes darker, more dangerous and sinister; but often times the place and the people are tranquil and it is sort of a refuge for me, somewhere I could go to if I feel lonely, sad or threatened.

I often wonder if this place really exists or I am just recalling it from a distant memory. Could it be a product of my imagination born out of wishful thinking and hidden longing to be somewhere else? I don’t know…