Dedicated to my Uncle Gary
by Jyna Giselle Y. Trumata
I hear the crashing of the waves to my right, begging me to turn and praise the beauty the sunset has to offer.
The leaves of the trees to my left rustle as the wind howls to show its might, oblivious to the disarray it leaves in its wake.
The sand beneath my feet grabs my attention, prickling me, teasing my senses, as if daring me to take a step.
So I did.
I take another one.
Till I’m running along the shore, breathless and uncaring of the unforgiving wind that strikes my face.
Then I fall into a state of oblivion.
The sound of the big basin below my bed wakes me from my slumber. Groggily, I look at the clock on the wall to my right: 7 o’clock. “She’s late,” I thought.
“Para sa mga balita karun na adlaw…”
Radio static drowns the man’s voice as he gives the daily rundown of what’s happening around me. I try to catch what he’s saying, but it’s all too fast.
My wooden bed groans as I try and fail to assume a better position to hear the radio. I sigh.
As I think of some other way to turn my head, the sound of the screen door opening draws my attention to a familiar lady. Ellen (at least that’s what I hear people call her) enters my visual field with a smile on her face.
I smile back.
Nanay was usually the one to greet me first. She always heralded my day with a smile and a few words of love. But a few years ago, she stopped. I never saw it, never heard about it, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to see her face anymore.
Ellen feeds me my morning meal of vegetables with soup. Mealtime is always a messy business, as I struggle to chew while making sure the food stays in my mouth. I do my best to eat, but I still choke on my food once in a while. After breakfast, Ellen walks away and I’m alone once again. I gaze at the dirty ceiling and try to think of something I haven’t thought of before—an absolute feat when your thoughts are the only constant company you’ve had for forty years.
Time seems to drag on for so long. They should have passed by now. Then, as if hearing my thoughts, I hear the door open once again and loud giggling comes bursting in. Here they are.
I struggle to crane my neck, my mind exerting herculean effort to will my weak body to move even just a little. Slowly, I see my nephews running drenched in sweat, boisterous laughter spilling forth from their mouths. New bruises color their sun-kissed skin and mud decorates their hands and feet. I catch a glimpse of their newest set of wounds, with blood still gushing out.
Oh, what I would have given to have those wounds, to run around without effort, to feel the scorch of the sun whenever I wanted to. I would have given everything I can, even just for a day. My nephews, blissfully unaware of my inner turmoil, greet me and acknowledge my existence for a few seconds, then they’re out of my sight.
This is my life. I’ve accepted it by now.
I used to wonder why though. I spent years screaming in my head, asking God why He allowed this to happen. Why did He choose me, out of millions of people, to suffer? How had I wronged Him when I was but a fetus? Was I expected to sing Him praise for giving me life when He placed my soul in a lifeless body? Why did He decide that I would be Kokoy?
But when you’ve asked questions for so long, only to be met by silence, you eventually stop. For years, in the silence that envelops me every day, I’ve drilled into my head that this is and will be my life. But acceptance doesn’t always eradicate the feeling of loneliness.
Footsteps from above my bed distract me from my thoughts. A few seconds pass and a face comes into my line of sight. My sister. She says, “Hi, Koy,” the usual greeting. Then, she starts to walk away. Unconsciously, a scream emerges from my stiff mouth. Tears drop from my eyes. Ate rushes to my side, holds my hand, and asks me what the matter is. Of course, I can’t answer, and she’s met with the usual strained moan. Though, like always, she understands me.
For years I have tried to keep the loneliness at bay. It was easier before when Nanay or Tatay carried me around to show me new things every day, when my siblings had time to play with me, and when I wasn’t always confined within the four walls of my thoughts. But now, every one of them has moved on with their lives.
Except for me. I am still in the same bed doing the same things. A lifetime of unanswered questions later, and a deep ache of longing that I can no longer suppress, has brought me to this moment. Years’ worth of emotions, though the only signs of my broken heart are my tears and my labored moans.
“Naa mi kanunay para nimo, Koy”
With these whispered words, a sense of peace washes over me. Despite the backdrop of changes happening around the monotony of my existence, there is one constant thing.
I am loved.
Memories of Nanay’s and Tatay’s happy faces as they gazed at me with awe come flooding back. I recall the times when my siblings would drop what they were doing to spend time with me. I look back on the moments when my nephews and nieces used to visit and spend time with me outside, while I was in my wheelchair.
I might have forgotten this throughout the years, but as I lay my tear-stained face on my Ate, with her arms around me, I could not be surer. I have always been loved, accepted, and cared for. And nothing has changed.
After a long day, I’ve finally found peace. The same soft meal, the same ceiling, the same silence. But there is this quietude that has eluded me for years now.
At 8:00, the usual lady tucks me in bed, wraps my mosquitero around me, and turns off the lights. I am finally able to rest.
I am Kokoy — the last remaining thought in my head as contentment fills my heart. Before sleep claims me.