The Book of Salamat: May 2009
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Let's frolic in this world-size ink tub!

This blog is created and designed as an interactive cyberspace where readers from all corners of the world are encouraged to participate and get involved as part of the online community.

I like you (yes, you!) to step beyond being just a reader and become a contributing netizen. It is enjoyable and informative to read thoughts on the net, but it sure is a double fun to interact with other people.


Please feel free to leave your comments. Thank you for visiting, and have a nice reading!

TUESDAY: NOVEL-MAKING DRIVE  

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


What's In Here?

Inside this room, you will be encouraged to share your thoughts and imagination and help finish a book by submitting your version of a certain chapter or chapters.


What's The Goal?

To make and publish a novel based entirely on the contributions submitted by readers from around the world.


What's The Drive?

The blogger has already posted the PROLOGUE. It was written in first person so that it will be much easier to connect to the story and develop a more emotional connection to it. This way, it will also somehow help draw involvement from the writer (you!). It doesn't matter if you are a man or a woman, though the PROLOGUE introduces a single mother, anybody can wear her shoes and write her stories.


What To Do First?

You need to read the PROLOGUE first. Get to know who and what's in there, and what kind of story was lurking somewhere in there that you feel the urge to write and tell. Read the PROLOGUE and then determine where and how to start from there, and where to take the story from there.


What Needs To Be Done?

Apparently, Chapter 1 does not exist yet. It's not there yet. And nobody knows what happens next after the event narrated in the PROLOGUE, or how the whole story really starts.

Now, what you are going to do is write for the Chapter 1. It's up to you what approach or angle you are going to use. Write it backwards? Should you continue telling the story from the PROLOGUE? Or start it from the very beginning and make the PROLOGUE a part of the ending? It's really up to your creativity. And depending on the writer's imagination, the main character might not be the mother. It might be someone else. Who knows? It's really up to the writer!

Remember: if the succeeding chapter is not yet selected and posted, it is open to submissions.


How To Do It?

At the start, read the PROLOGUE. Then write the story for Chapter 1. When Chapter 1 has been selected from the submissions and has already been posted next to the PROLOGUE, and you want to submit your version again for the next chapter, you need to read the existing chapters, and then write for the next chapter.

In case you like to participate in this drive and it's your first time to come here, and let's assume Chapters 1 to 5 were already chosen and posted by the time you come here, you need to read from the very beginning until the latest chapter to have a full grasp of the story and for you to determine where you should take the story next. And then write your version for the next chapter. It's how this works!


Tell Me More:

Submissions will be subject to review and deliberation by either the blog readers and followers or by people in the physical world. The version that established a strong connection to the PROLOGUE and is more persuading and realistic will more likely to be chosen. If an entry is picked, the winning author will be informed. Once selection is made, the next chapter will then be open to submissions. When it is finished, the winning entries will be compiled and sent to credible English Professors or critiques for review and editing. And, hopefully, finds its way to publication with the winning writers as its authors.

For the next chapter to be perceived and created more clearly by the contributors, it is advised that each chapter should be written with an established thought or situation before the chapter ends, creating a link and connection that requires attention and opens door for the continuation of the story in the next chapter.


How Can I Submit My Version?

To submit your version, please click on the POSTED COMMENTS directly below each post. Once your version is selected for that particular chapter, it will be copied from your comment and will used as a new post.


How To Get The Book Title?

Obviously, it will be a hard and clumsy move to assume the appropriate title when it's not yet finished. Once the story-writing is done, the readers and contributors alike will be encouraged to suggest a title they feel best fits or defines the whole story. Then such suggestions will be subject to votation.


What are the rules?

To avoid confusion, please uphold the established characteristics and the physical and behavioral description of the characters, unless when the situation calls the need to change it, or when the story explains the character's physical or behavioral transformation.

For example, if the character is described and established in the previous chapter as a reserved but composed person, you cannot have him appear in your version for the next chapter as a brisk, noisy guy unless you specify that the character has undergone transition..

There's no limitation on how many times you come back and write with respect to the number of chapters. But with respect to submissions per chapter, you are limited to only 1 entry.

For example, in Chapter 1, you are allowed to submit only one version. Then you can submit another one again for Chapter 2.


To go there now, CLICK HERE.

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MONDAY: THANK YOU ROOM  

Monday, May 18, 2009


The week after my operation, I received a number of text (sms) messages from friends and relatives wishing me to recuperate soon.

Last Tuesday, I said my Thank You to my uncle after receiving a message wishing me good health and a fast recovery.

A day after that, on Wednesday, my two friends and ex-colleagues in Taiwan, who live in the neighboring town and city, came to visit me at home. One of them had just recently arrived from an island province west of Cebu in central Philippines, and had heard from the other one the news about my appendicitis. I expressed my Thanks to them, treasuring their thoughtfulness. I also thanked them for a kilogram of ripe, sweet mangoes they gave me that night.

Last Thursday was my schedule to visit my doctor in which he had remove the stitches, checked the wound, and prescribed me a gel to prevent the onset of keloids and minimize the visibility of the scar. I thanked my doctor so much for the free-of-charge appointment, which would have cost me 500 pesos or around $10.50. His professional fee for the surgery, I later found out from my parents, was even discounted by around $104.00. These figures already saved me a considerable amount of money. And I felt so much gratitude to my doctor for his finesse, service and generosity. I promise to give something in return one day as a token of my gratitude. He likes marine foods, and so I’m planning to send him prawns or crabs.

I also thanked the taxi driver that same day for being considerate and thoughtful. Upon knowing that I’ve just had an operation, he made it sure we wouldn’t be going through a bumpy or rough part of the road. He knew it could be painful for me even with just a jitter of the cab. We also took a byway with less traffic, a quality of kindness that has become rare among cab drivers.

I have also checked my latest posts on both my blogs last week, here and at LITERARY WORKS, and I’ve read the well-wishes and prayers from people across the world that I’ve only met here at blogger. There aren’t words that can express my thankfulness to all those who pray for my fast recovery and for my good health. From the deepest chamber of my heart, I thank you all!




Photograph by Consumedbycake. Please CLICK HERE to visit the owner's Flickr page. Thanks!

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SUNDAY SITUATIONAL: If You Buy This Record ...  

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I've turned on my computer today, browsed the net, landed on Youtube, search for random videos until a dance beat song of Tampera caught my eyes and ears. The video appeared to me like cheaply budgeted and not so artistically visualized. At some points I have even caught myself frowning and grinning at some scenes, and have no idea what was the message that the acts were trying to imply. But in fairness, the music was somehow contagious to the point that it made me sing along and raised my hands up in the air. Yeah. The party-animal side of me. (GRIN!)

If you buy this record your life will be better, your life will be better ----

I wasn't paying attention to the lyrics throughout the whole run, though. It was the beat that carried me away and loosen my jaded limbs and back. Then I carried on looking for yet another videos. Until late this evening, as I called it a day and lied on my bed staring at the white wall, it was when the lyrics sank in.

And it made me realize, hey, there's some truth to that line. It really is true. Music helps us in many ways. It helps us remember clearly that romantic or funny or embarrassing moments we have had, the break-ups (ouch!), our ex's, our parents, deceased loved ones...even mem'ries from grade or high-schools!

And then a thought brushed through me:

Supposing I’m cooking for a special night, preparing the table to its perfect presentation, dimming the dining room lights, and oh, that romantic candles would surely melt my wife's heart! Perfume is in the air, her favorite Victoria's Secret, candles lined the hallway on the floor from the front door to the dining room, the floor carpeted with petals of red and white. All that to surprise her for our first year anniversary.

Then I hear the rolling of her car outside. But then suddenly, I pause, something's missing! Something's lacking! C'mon, think, THINK! What is it? Oh yeah, music! A romantic song that will set the night and the mood just perfect! Groping in the dim room, searching for the perfect record to play but, wait, WAIT! I remember, the heck, these are all rock and alternatives! Uhm, wait, here --- PUSSYCAT DOLLS? No, wait--- BLACK EYED PEAS? No....NO! I can't call it disaster!

And then the front door clicks.

QUESTION:

Do you and your hubby have a theme song? Supposing you are having a date or celebrating your anniversary, would you prefer to play a song, be it a record or a live performance by an artist in a restaurant? What song would you like to be played that you feel would complement the mood of the night? Tell us why you or your hubby choose that song.



Photograph by Indiana Shutterbug . Please CLICK HERE to visit the owner's Flickr page. Thanks!

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Adapting a New, Interactive Format  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Everyday for the entire week I will be presenting different activities and interactions, each unique from one another. This drive is aiming to listen and understand what your minds are thinking or shouting behind your head that would otherwise become stale or even forever unheard.

I will do my best to make them as fresh and current and interesting as they could be to trigger you to participate, get involved and react. I will do my best to gather and post information or cause interaction that are of human interest.

This series of activities will kick off this coming Sunday.

To know what kind of activities I’m going to post per day, here is the list:

MONDAYS: THE THANK YOU ROOM

I am going to introduce this room on my blog, and I call it THE THANK YOU ROOM, where the issues for this room will be released every Monday.

In here I will be enumerating down the times I say Thank You to someone, either people close to me or total strangers, be it in person, in letters or online. How many times I said it in a week will be exactly the same number I will post the following Monday.

No, what you're thinking is wrong. I am not going to say those two words for the sake of posting it in my blog. That's completely out of my intention. I will only post those times I said them sincerely, and will not post those that I didn't mean. That means there may be an empty week and an empty Monday post.

And this Room is primarily meant as my online diary of those instances. I don't know what it would exactly do to me in the future, but it doesn't matter. What matters most is that in the end, there will be something I will look back to and remember how those faces changed the time I said Thank You to them.

TUESDAYS: NOVEL-MAKING DRIVE

Every Tuesday, I will be posting a link to my other blog, which is The Ink Jacuzzi, a blog specially created and designed to encourage readers to participate and contribute their versions for a certain chapter for the completion of a book in this novel-making drive.

The rules and mechanics will be displayed every Tuesdays, too, along with the link. Such mechanics and rules can also be read in the above mentioned link. You can go anytime there, and if you have already penned your idea, you can submit it the next Tuesday, or you can visit anytime this URL: http://inkjacuzzi.blogspot.com

Hope to see you next Tuesday, guys!

WEDNESDAYS: STORY TELLING (FICTION)

Wednesdays will be allocated for short fictions. All the previous posts on short stories will remain as is, but from now on I will only post fiction entries every Wednesday, so that I can effectively budget my time and organize my blog better.

THURSDAYS: ISSUES, HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE

Every Thursday I will be posting a recent or current global economic, political or any other human-interest issues that affect human lives all over the world.

The topic is not limited, and so as your opinions or insights. And it aims to extract your beliefs and principles on these issues. But I am hoping that, though this blog offers a freedom wall for all our thoughts, participants should not attack each other’s stands, question one’s views, or fight over their principles.

It is my purpose to know what you believe in and what your views are, and hopefully learn values and lessons from those.

FRIDAYS: MIXED NUTS

Inside this room I will be posting random, assorted topics. It could be that I will write an interactive scene (script) where the readers can actually interact with the story’s characters, virtually, of course. It can be done by creating an open ending where readers can enter as a new character and create conversations with the presented fictional characters by establishing lines (added to the script).

Scenes may be described as inside a bar, in a mall, in a restaurant, or in a public park. The list of possible settings is actually infinite.

Still wondering how it really works? Watch out this coming Friday!

OR, it could be….

By means of a prompt (I know this is not original, but I admit it’s addicting and fun!). I might post an image and ask for you to write something creatively, literarily or plainly about what you see and how you interpret the message of the picture.

Or…

I might throw questions about your hobbies, interests, passions, fears, happiness…anything.

SATURDAYS: YouTube REACTS

Every Saturday, I will be posting a Youtube video of random topics into my blog, videos that have potentials to spark comments, discussions or debate. It is my intention to gather readers’ reactions, views and insights regarding the message of the video or the video itself, positive or otherwise.

It is my very hope that you find this drive interesting and interactive enough to share what you think or what your stand is.

Cya on my first post this coming Saturday!

SUNDAYS: SITUATIONAL

I am creating a new room or section on my blog, which will be dubbed SUNDAY SITUATIONAL. This, as the name suggests, will be a about giving a particular situation where a question or series of questions will be based. Starting this Sunday (Philippine time), this distinctively different posting will be ran, hopefully, for a long time as long as this blog is alive and kicking. Of course, it all depends on the feedbacks and responses to the inquiries from the readers (you!). So I need your cooperation, and I hope you will find the Q's triggering and exciting enough to start striking your keys.

This is my way of turning this blog into a more interactive space between you and me. There's nothing more rewarding and fun than acting and reacting over the same topic and know that all of us are enjoying it.

So, guys, read on, get involved, participate, and let us hear your thoughts!







Photograph by Native's. Please CLICK HERE to view the owner's Flickr page. Thanks!

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My World Is Shaken (Non-Fiction): The Surgery  



With a solemn prayer

I whisper

“God, please let me wake up

to this same room.”




I was putting my bag filled with shirts and shorts into the closet of my hospital room around 7:00 o'clock in the evening of May 6, 2009, when the door opened and a nurse with her brown wooden clipboard emerged from the hall.

"Good evening," she smiled as she greeted me. She looked around and saw no one else. My parents, my father’s colleague and his wife who was a former practicing nurse on that same hospital and the same person who referred me to the surgeon, who all went to the hospital with me, were having early dinner that time when the nurse came in. Her eyes went back to me and said, "Are you the patient?"

After I got the results of the preliminary tests on my blood, chest, and heart (must be that my surgeon needed to confirm that the rupture had not caused complications to my blood and other vital organs), I decided to have myself admitted that same day to the hospital, under my specialist surgeon’s advice that it would be much better to undergo operation the soonest time. He told me a day before not to worry about the wound, he assured me that it wouldn't be necessary to incise a bigger entry point on my navel based on his findings during the physical examination, and on the test results from the first hospital I had visited. I endured the not-so-intense-anymore pain and was able to walk without wincing, probably because of the antibiotics I've orally taken prior to seeing him and, as what he had explained, my immune system was strong enough to counter the infection and the rupture was also contained by the epithelia. That, I’ve reckoned, made me so lucky.

“Yes,” I nodded as I replied.

She glanced over me before saying, “You are scheduled for an operation tonight at nine, but you will be taken to the operation room by eight. Your surgeon will be attending you right after he finishes operating on another patient.”

I said, “OK”.

Then she told me that the doctor ordered an NPO (Nihil Per Orem), which meant I must not eat or swallow anything including liquids from that point on until further advice. I’ve never eaten a thing since lunchtime.

I was tempted to ask the nurse how many patients were being operated on by the surgeon for the day. I have this fear that I found hard to suppress, such fear that although the surgery would be minor, unperceived or unexpected factors resulting to malpractice or failure are just lurking around even for the most experienced doctor. And I was thinking, what if the doctor was too worn out for the night’s schedule? What if the anesthesiologist would miscalculate the dosage? Questions that might sound silly to a certain degree or situation but still rational and valid. What if? Despite writing a poem filled with optimism, I found it hard to dodge from my pessimistic fear now that I was facing it.

To tell you honestly, from the time I knew I needed operation up to the very moment I waited for it in my hospital room, I was diverting myself and my mind to something else so I wouldn’t worry about the surgery. Things like reading a novel I’ve already read, tuning on the TV, browsing the internet, and sending sms to friends. And most of the time I succeeded. Now, lying on the bed with printed bed sheets as I watched Discovery Channel, my mind came back to reality. It all went back to me. The anxiety, the worry, the fear. The silly thoughts.

Thirty minutes to eight, the same nurse appeared carrying a plastic filled with tubes and IV bags.

“Sir, I will be administering this now to you. In a while we will be giving you your first shot of antibiotics, but first we need to perform a skin test. You are not still allowed to eat or drink anything.”

Her second line boggled me. “Skin test?” I frowned.

“It’s a standard procedure to find out whether or not you will develop any allergic reactions to the medicine,” she explained clearly. The antibiotic she was referring to would later be injected to me through the IV tube once a day. And it cost around $50 per vial (injected once).

Fifteen minutes after the nurse disappeared behind the door, a team of nursing students with their instructor marched into my room followed by the entourage of my parents and their couple friend, which made me a bit confused and nervous. I don’t really feel comfortable being surrounded by interns on their practicum, performing procedures that made me felt like a guinea pig in the laboratory. The male student conducted the skin test on me, and I winced to the terrible pain. The female student handed me the surgery gown and told me to take off all of my clothes. I waited for them to all go out before stripping off.

A few minutes after eight, a stretcher was wheeled into my room by two male nurses accompanied by the same nurse who came first to see me. She instructed me to lie on the stretcher while she transferred the IV bag from above my bed unto the hook rod protruding from the stretcher. Just when I was wheeled out of the room into the hallway, my father tapped his right hand on my shoulder to loosen and comfort me and told me it’s just a minor and everything would be just fine. I didn’t see my mother’s face, perhaps because I was so distracted by my own thoughts and fears and worries.

As they rolled me down the hallway, my eyes were blankly transfixed at the white ceiling, mumbling silent prayers, hoping that what the surgeon had told me was right, that my phlegmonous appendicitis had not spread into my other organs and that the operation would not be complicated and would only need small incision. I prayed as they stopped pushing and pulling the mobile bed I was lying on, and I prayed as the nurse injected the first shot of antibiotic through the IV tube. The nurse asked me if I felt scared, which I found myself unable to answer. I just smiled at her and listened as she told me that my hand was cold. I didn’t noticed how cold my hands were the same way I didn’t feel if my heart was throbbing fast. I was still staring at the ceiling, familiarizing myself to the hospital hallway.

When we arrived to a hallway right before the sterile room, they transferred me to yet another stretcher, made me wait for I didn’t know how many minutes, giving me yet another time to stare and remember the pinhole design of the white ceiling. A young man in blue, collared shirt and white pants, whom I presumed was another intern, even passed by me and said good luck. I didn't know exactly what to say in that moment, so I just gave him a faint smile.

The nurse relayed to another nurse in green surgery uniform the details pertaining to my records and medical specifics, before I was wheeled into the sterile room, past a huge, bright room and into Room 8, where the huge octopus surgery lamp attached to the ceiling and wires and a narrow bed with straps waited for my arrival. As we passed by the big room, I saw a sole patient there sleeping soundlessly the pain away.

Noticing my head turned to my right to see the sleeping patient, the woman in mask and green who wheeled me in quietly said, “That’s the Recovery Room. That’s where you will stay for another 2 to 3 hours after the surgery.”

I looked away.

Inside Room 8, monitors were turned on and wires were attached somewhere in my chest, one clipped to my left thumb, and an automatic sphygmomanometer strapped around my right upper arm that monitored my blood pressure every 15 minutes, according to the surgery nurse in green. She told me that my surgeon and his team will attend to me right after they were done operating another patient. Seconds ticked into minutes, which later became an hour and a few minutes. The room was very quiet except for the beeping of the machine that monitored my heartbeat. I felt tired and sleepy. And at times my eyes were tempted to sleep, but I refused to. I didn’t want to. I should wait first for my doctor to come in.

I stared at the huge surgery lamp overhead that vaguely resembled a star, which was subdivided into five hexagonal groups each containing several white-light bulbs. I stared from time to time at the electrical outlet beside its base, with reasons I didn’t know. I looked around, turned my head from left to right, from the two chatting nurses in green by the table to the big door beside them. The monitor beeped, the A/C hummed, the silence of the room echoed inside my head.

Then my friendly, approachable, composed surgeon came in, smiling as he walked toward me. “How are you feeling?” He asked me, his smile relaxing and assuring. And I found my negative thoughts actually lessened by something in his aura that made me trust his competence and expertise.

“I’m OK, thanks.”

He asked me to pardon him for the delay, and then explained. I told him it’s OK.

The anesthesiologist emerged from behind him and explained what he was going to do to me. When he said he’d give me a dosage that would numb my whole abdomen down my legs and give me something to make me sleep, I felt very, very relieved to perceive that such method would be much more safer than letting anesthesia alone send me to sleep. I’m not really certain though and this is just a hunch, but I have the feeling the latter tend to pose more risk for malpractice. And besides, I’ve watched that recent movie entitled AWAKE, which I wondered if it would ever occur in my case. That, too, I prayed not to happen. Perhaps I’m beginning to develop paranoia by watching too much movies and TV. But gladly, at this point, I was able to dismiss that fear and worry.

He instructed me to curl up, and then injected the dose into my lower spine. Later he pressed a needle’s tip against my belly and asked me if it still hurts. When the drug was in full force, he then put me to sleep with another drug. A minute or two later, I fell asleep.

I woke up to hushed voices or conversations and light clacking of metals. The sight of my chest and all of my lower body was concealed by a cloth hanged on a metal rod shaped similar to a miniature soccer goal. I knew right away where I was, and I knew the surgery was still ongoing. A man in mask glanced at me, disappeared and, moments later, I went back to sleep (or sent back to sleep, I wasn’t sure though).

When i woke up the second time that night, I woke up to a different but familiar room. With still blurry eyes I looked around to see other two awake female patients on transportable beds in my far right. One of them was talking to a nurse, the other one next to her was watching them. At first I didn’t feel anything, but then as things sunk in, I began to feel surging pain down my navel. And it hurt so bad that I called the other attending nurse and asked for a pain reliever. After administering a shot, they told me they were to move me back to my room. I begged them to make me stay for another hour, after the pain became bearable enough for me to leave from their care.

I was brought back to my room at around 2 in the morning, where my parents, my sister and my uncle from a town several kilometers north of the city were waiting. My father’s colleague and his wife weren’t there. Probably had gone home. I slept for another four hours and woke up to the heaving of my wound.

By seven or eight o’clock that morning, I tried and managed myself to roll to my left side as advised by the resident doctor under my surgeon’s team, because the intestines tend to stick to each other if there was less movement of the body. And it would not be a good thing to happen, he informed me. And so I tried, then rolled to another side. And early that afternoon I asked my father to help me get up. Later that afternoon, I was already walking around my bed, holding to its metal rails as I slowly took one pace at a time.

I was admitted to the hospital last Wednesday, May 06. My father’s birthday. And we were supposed to be celebrating as what we had planned weeks ago. Go out to a KTV bar or a beach. But that didn’t happen. Three days later I was discharged under my doctor’s advised and permission. This coming Thursday, hopefully, I will be going back to my doctor’s clinic to have the stitches removed.


NOTE: You might be wondering why the sudden change of plan for the operation. Well, the thing is, we seek for another doctor's expert opinion, which this time came from a gastrointestinal specialist who I found to be more credible and competent; whereas, the first surgeon who advised me to undergo operation four weeks from the day he read the ultrasound result, was a general surgeon. Besides, the first hospital estimated P80,000 of total expenses, and there's a tendency that the incision would be much longer. Whereas, according to the second doctor, the specialist, he estimated around P50,000 and assured me the incision would only be a few inches long, and said it would be best to undergo surgery the soonest time. We visited the specialist the day after we visited the first hospital. And by Wednesday I was scheduled for the operation.


Photograph by Du Truex. Please CLICK HERE to visit the owner's Flickr page. Thanks!

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My World Is Shaken (Non-Fiction)  

Monday, May 4, 2009


Today I've heard from my doctor a news that was hard for me to absorb. A news that was not even near my list of expectations to hear.

Last Friday I felt a mild pain at the middle of my abdomen, right deep under my belly. I thought it was just some sort of muscle pain or an ordinary stomachache, so I wasn't at all disturbed and spent the rest of the day typically. The following day, the pain began to increase its intensity but still mostly felt where it was. Only this time, the pain seemed to intensify at indefinite intervals and radiated from the middle towards the surrounding areas but a little noticeable to the right.

It became more painful in the afternoon, and the sharp spasms became more frequent during the night. Some time in the afternoon I informed my mother about it, telling her something's not right.

She asked me a series of common questions. I told her I didn't have a diarrhea, or constipation; my bowel movement was normal. I didn't have a fever, and I did not feel weak. Just the painful stomachache, nothing else. She opted to treat me with herbals as first aid, and during the wee hours of the evening, when the pain made it difficult to put myself to sleep, she decided to bring me to a hospital.

On the third day the pain remained sharper and the spasms remained frequent and painful, still in the middle and would scatter toward the whole abdomen when spasms occur. I told the doctor I did not lose my appetite and did not vomit. They asked me more questions, told me to take some blood and urine tests, and then later instructed me to take the ultrasound test first thing the following morning after they had found out that the white blood cells were high.

This morning, the ultrasound result reported that my appendix is infected and has already erupted, but the infection has not spread because, as what the surgeon later said, it was caught and trapped by an internal body part having that function (I could not remember the medical name, and have no idea what's the layman's term).

When the physician said they could call a surgeon to operate me that same day, fear and worries rushed in even more as they already have. I have never been to any operations before, and the idea of having an operation imperils my dream of working abroad. I am scared of undergoing an operation as most people do, I believe. Also, it will cost us big amount of money, which we don't have. The savings I've had from working in Taiwan for 5 years mostly went to the house my parents helped me bought, redesigned and enhanced. The rest were all spent financing my application for a job in New Zealand, which until now is vague. My previous experience was in a manufacturing industry, and the next one is technically the same. Physical strength is totally required, and the applicant must have no history of operations.

The surgeon came and physically examined me and asked questions. This time, I told him the pain has somewhat shifted to the right since I woke up this morning. After informing me of the ultrasound results and what it meant, he prescribed antibiotics to be taken for six weeks and scheduled me for an operation four weeks from today. He said that it was the best time to remove the appendix, except of course if the pain becomes too intense, which needed immediate operation. I looked at my mother; I could feel and see that she's worried. But my father was brave as he always is. I pray to God that everything will be alright.

After going home I could not think of something else except this. I even doubt if I could write a poem tonight. But here's what I've decided, I will definitely undergo the operation, bravely. There are ways to get the money, and I don't worry much of that now. And I don't want to worry about it in the days to go.

Money is just money, life is something much more.

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In The Eyes Of A Child

 

Friday, May 1, 2009

The crawling traffic going toward Pasay City* exhausted her excitement and energy, and the 38 degrees hotness stilled the dry air outside and forebade circulation inside the bus. The alternating, impatient honking of cars and jeepneys* caused her head to ache, worsen by the persistent bawl of the vendor who climbed inside the bus.

She turned her head away from the square glassless window to her mother on her other side, and grumbled about the heat. Her mother swung to and fro more briskly the plastic, heart-shaped fan she was holding, and complained to no one in particular about the traffic and the searing summer heat.

She had two other sisters and one brother. Her older sister, Priscella, was having an excursion in the north, while her older brother Roy was taking an entrance exam in a university. The eldest, Maureen, had not been living with them for three months now. She could have stayed with her aunt eleven doors away from their cheap apartment, but there were too many children there and she didn't want to compete with them to get her share of toy or food. Besides, she had never been to Mall of Asia* before, and she had heard from her classmates in the eight grade class that it was the largest and most beautiful mall in the whole of Manila. When her mother told her yesterday that they would be going there today, her excitement was pouring out of the glass. She even woke up early today, the way she always would when tomorrow promised something for her. Despite what they were experiencing now, she still did not regret her going with her mother.

When she turned her head back to look outside, what greeted her was a hill of stinky and decaying garbage in the distance right along the sidewalk, beside a row of vendors selling ice-cold juice, rice cakes, sugar-coated peanuts and banana cues. She grunted as she covered her nose with both her hands.

Her mother turned to look at her, and remarked, "That's what happens to our surrounding when people lacks discipline."

"Can't they smell it?" she asked.

"They can. But they're too lazy to clean it up," said her mother as her eyes fixed on hers. "What did I always tell you 'bout it?"

She halfway pulled back her hands as she answered, "Don't throw my trash just anywhere. After eating candies I put the wrapper in my pocket and look for a trash bin."

"That's what old people should also do. Do not follow what they did with that garbage because it's wrong. OK?"

She briskly nodded her head and said, "And, and not follow what they say if it is wrong."

Her mother smiled at her and said, "Good girl."

Her mother brushed her hair with her right hand, adoring her. And then flashed that smile again. But she could see the lack of sparkles in her mother's eyes. She'd noticed it yesterday, but she'd just ignored it. This morning she noticed it again, and she knew this time something wasn't right. Her mother lost her ardor today, too, and that smile she gave her lacked width and depth. She knew something was troubling her mother; she just hoped she was old enough to find out and help her.



Maureen sat impatiently next to the huge sheer glass window at the second floor of Jollibee*, situated in the most crowded part of the mall complex. She'd been glancing at her wristwatch for several times in an hour of waiting. She had already consumed the large cup of Coke and half of the french fries, but still no sign of her mother.

She intended to meet her mother in a public place, sensing and suspecting that her mother would jump all over her. And she's tired of that, she didn't want any of that anymore. As much as possible she wanted to avoid outbursts and physical contacts. And here was where she felt was safe enough.

One more minute and she would leave. Perhaps, she thought, her mother had realized she's losing the battle and gave in. As she was about to push herself from the table to get up, she noticed her youngest sister Simonette running happily toward her through the crisscrossing diners, her small arms spreading widely beside her, and her smile the widest one she'd ever seen.



Her sister Maureen brightened when she saw her running toward her through the aisle between two rows of occupied tables. She missed Maureen so much; she missed those times they had made cookies together or colored Tweety Bird in her coloring book together. She missed her sister's singing in the morning and in the bedroom, and she missed her giving her beautiful hairdos. And so she hugged Maureen tightly as she could, and her eldest sister hugged her back, too.

But Maureen's delight dimmed and flickered out after seeing their mother came. Her sister shoved her gently aside as she got up to face their mother. She could feel awkwardness between her sister and her mother, but she didn't know why, and didn't want to find out. Instead she slid herself into the long cushioned seat and asked Maureen if she could eat the french fries.

There was no hugging, too, which was odd. And no smiles. Her mother's face was empty of expression, while that of her sister's was careful and cautious. As she nibbled and licked the salts from the strips, her mother began talking of something about going back home.

After some exchange of words, of persuasion and reasoning, her sister's face became clouded and grim when she spoke again, "Why are you complaining at something you've done to me?"

Off-guarded and insulted by such disrespect, their mother's voice raised, "How dare you talk to me like that. This isn't now how I brought up."

Her sister's voice was heavy but controlled when she replied. "But this is how you're trying to control my own life! Why are you pushing me to do something I don't want?"

"This is what's good for you. I only wanted to make sure you are living a good life."

"I'm old enough to know what is good for me, Ma, please. I don't love him!" she paused to re-calculate what she was about to say. "It is you who like him, Ma, not me. Go and marry him," she continued. But her voice was so wounding that her mother erupted.

SLAP!

Silence.

Maureen froze, her teary eyes questioning and condemning their mother with hurt and hatred. Their mother retreated, trembling with guilt and sudden realization at what she had just wreaked.




She just sat there in stiff silence, staring at her mother then to her sister and back, sensing the dense, tensed air among them, observing the two wounded members of their family, and waiting what would happen next. Her mother for a moment ignored her presence, probably thinking that she was too young to understand, and too small to absorb and register everything into her young mind. Or, perhaps, she was just simply drowned by her own pain and fight for redemption that she failed to remember she was there, watching.

What her mother and sister didn't know was that she's already old enough to comprehend what's going on. And it wasn't pleasant. It wasn't good. Even the people from the surrounding tables seemed not to enjoy what they had seen. Silence fell like drapes, wrapping them from the world.

She didn't want to stay with them. She just wanted to enjoy being in the mall; after all, that was why she came here. She got out of her chair and ran toward the net-secured playground nearby to join the playing, happy children.

Along the way, she noticed a woman from one of the tables near the playground dropped a large piece of a chicken wing. But instead of picking it up, she kicked it inconspicuously into the inflatable fence of the playground and continued eating.

When she came she stood beside the woman and commented, "That is not right."

Confused and unsure if the girl beside her was talking to her, the woman looked around, raised her eyebrows and asked, "What?"

"My mama says you have to pick up everything that you've dropped and find a bin."

The woman's company giggled at such confrontation, which made the woman obviously embarrassed but defended herself by shrugging it off, "You're a good girl, honey. And you're right."

"But you're not doing it."

The other people in the table giggled even more.

It was during this time that she heard something in the distance that she suspected was coming from their table. She turned around to see her sister walked away.



"This ain't going anywhere," Maureen declared.

"Come back home," their mother begged.

"I'm not going back home," she said with finality, and concluded the heated conversation by getting up and walking away.

Her mother called after her sister. And it was this call that made her turned around to see her sister left. And soon after she went to play, the woman stooped to pick up her litter.



As they left for home, she recounted excitedly to her mother every details of her romping around the playground. But her mother wasn't responding. She was so distant. And so she ceased from talking. Sometimes, she couldn't understand how adults behave in their world.



--- END ---




Note:

Pasay City - A city at the base of EDSA, one of the cities that comprise Metro Manila.

Jeepney - are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines.[1] They were originally made from US military jeeps left over from World War II[2] and are well known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating. They have also become a symbol of Philippine culture. ~ According to Wikipedia

Mall of Asia - A new mall complex located in Pasay City, fronting the Manila Bay.

Jollibee - an international fast food chain similar to McDonald's, which originated and widely popular in the Philippines.





Photograph by Robin Thom. Please CLICK HERE to visit the owner's Flicker page. Thanks!

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