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Only in pain

THE doctors gave up on him. Terminal cancer. He’s left with precious bunch of days to endure the pain that wracks his insides before breathing his last.

Most times, he is under heavy sedation. Pain-killers. Probably morphine or any of its derivatives flooding his bloodstream. In opiate stupor, his awareness is tossed between drowsiness and dreamy wakefulness. The pain dulled, he drifts in waves of passing comfort. It would be futile to kindle small talk, just to hear his voice no longer raised in argument or greeting.

As the waves of pain surge through him, the numbness fades. He’d wince in recognition of familiar faces and voices, mostly of friends he hasn’t seen in weeks, maybe months.

In opiate comfort he would be beyond us.

Only in pain would he be with us now.

Nabanggit ko na minsan sa kanya na mas masahol pa sa pokpok ang hanapbuhay ng manunulat. Sa ngayon. Panahon pa ni Carlos Bulosan sa kaigtingan ng tinatawag na The Great Depression noong mga taon ng 1930 nang naging patakaran ng The New Yorker na bayaran agad ang sinulat na artikulo o anuman. Baka ganoon pa rin ang patakarang umiiral sa naturang peryodiko.

Santaon yata siyang hindi nababayaran sa kanyang mga tudling. Iba kasi ang nasusunod na patakaran sa ngayon.

Bago magpakaplog, ipatuklap ang hiwaga sa kanyang hiwa o kahit magtanggal ng mga takip sa kanyang inilakong laman, tiyak na hihirit ang pokpok.
Pay down, panty down. Open your wallet wide, open my legs wide. Show me the color of your cash, show you the color of my crotch.

Hindi nagkakalayo ang presyo ng samputukan sa presyo ng isang artikulo—naglalaro mula P300 hanggang P500. Kapag magaling trumabaho, todo-bigay pa ang serbisyo para ganahan ang nagbayad sa pagbayo’t pagkabayo.

There’s something gravely obscene and indecent about writing. A piece of ass for sale gets paid pronto. A piece of a writer’s mind won’t nudge folks into a state of arousal or tumescence. A good fuck can spell relief for gonads in knots. A good read is not as good as that.

True, a piece of good writing can leave some ripples in the head, usually a pair of nipples over the heart, and a wee bit squirming and some dampness in the groin area. That ought to feel great. But we just can’t put a finger to whatever worth a piece of writing fetches in the market, why, we can always plug a finger into that nether crevice, can’t we?

He was a writer whom we knew and admired and raised toasts with, got drunk with.

Now, he’s about to go.

Change of address. The inevitable. As certain as taxes. Father Time. Grim Repair, uh-oh, we mean Ripper, he’s coming and we haven’t done ample foreplay or out-and-out screwing on him yet.

We hardly know even our so-called friends in times of numbing comfort when we drift between dreamy wakefulness and dark slumber. In pain, maybe in hunger and in crisis we shall see starkly our friends.

There must be some brutal irony there. Some painful metaphor we’d like to put a finger to but we’d rather jab ‘em fingers into the damp Grafenberg spot down below.

--habalakibur@hotmail.com

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