Thursday, April 14, 2011

Act 24: Disaster

I stared at the laptop in front of me as I waited. Why is time so slow whenever I don’t do anything? I thought to myself as I secretly wished that I could just fast-forward time.

Illuminated on the screen were Excel sheets and tables containing all the information I need in making an analysis on the growth and status of the loan product I’m currently managing. Being in my first official job, I didn’t know that year-end would this be hectic. There are a lot of books to close and transactions to settle, and yet, so little time. It had really been a tiring day for me, and all I wanted was to just go home and relax.

As I heard the clicking of the laptop keyboard from a nearby office desk, my mobile phone glowed and vibrated on top of my table. Lazily, I grabbed it and checked who sent a message.

When I was about to open it up, I saw a message just below the unopened one. It was a thread from Alvin, and I could still recall the last few messages from that conversation. It all started a few days ago when I texted him a short “Hello” message.

Hi, may I know whos this?
Sender: Alvin

After receiving that message, something really ticked me off. It was quite sometime since we last texted but I wasn’t expecting that he would all of a sudden forget me. I immediately replied in a sarcastic manner.

Oh, so you already forgot about me? Okay then, just erase my number and pretend that I didnt text you.

I waited for his reply but my mood already got the best of me. I even forgot that I still have an unread message. But my mind was focused on his next reply, which eventually came a after a minute or so.

Hey, don’t get mad. My phone just got reformatted and I don’t have your number here. Would you mind telling me who you are?
Sender: Alvin

I was looking at my phone like a madman. The next message even made me furious. Probably because I have had enough experience of those kinds of messages coming from people who can’t tell me directly to get the hell out of their lives so they make up excuses such as I’ve changed my phone or my phone got reformatted. I was too used to those lame statements. But still I replied.

Fyi, I’m Mark and you know who am I. Anyway, you don’t need to make up such dumb excuses if you want me out of your life. Just tell me directly and I would understand.

I was really furious when I pressed send and I almost didn’t bother to even look at his next reply. But obviously, I was able to read it.

Mark, you don’t need to be upset. I’ve had enough drama in my life and I don’t want you to add to that. Fine. I don’t have time for people full of shit in their lives. Good bye!
Sender: Alvin

And that was the last time I’ve heard of him. It all ended just like that. Well, I don’t actually know why it all turned out that way but even before, we already have issues of distance and time.

Ever since, I’ve never actually been a fan of long distance relationships. It’s not that I don’t believe in it, but it just doesn’t really work for me.

That issue, worsened by schedule conflicts turned the whole thing sour. That probably caused the decrease in frequency of communication between the two of us, and the conversation we just had is all we needed to finally put a stop to an almost budding relationship that had gone terribly wrong.

But as I think about it now, I really don’t know how thick I can get. Well, it isn’t the fact that I can’t really stand LDRs (long-distance relationships) but the fact that I acted that way made me really ashamed of myself.I didn’t know that I could really be that apathetic and immature.

 I know I should’ve been more mature given that I’m older and should’ve been much wiser and more understanding, but they probably are correct when they said that it is not really in the age.

I knew I had been mature in a lot of times and in a thousand circumstances, but when it comes to love, I really become stupid and dumb. I really don’t have a lot of problems dealing with other people, may it be about work or about play, but when it comes to dealing with the people I love and care about, all that maturity were thrown out the window.

I tend to follow my heart more than my head, or the other way around. The balance was gone and at the end of it all, I find myself wondering whether I’ve made the right decision. Or should I say, mature decision.

There are a lot of things I knew I cannot control, but I know I could’ve done something about it. This again reminded me of the first huge conflict that I had with Gian. That was when I realized that he probably was falling for a girl friend of mine which in turn led to issues between me and him.

After our serious talk one evening, I knew something changed between me and Gian. Like there was friction whenever we were together, and most especially when we were with Danny.

But unlike before, Gian also tried to keep a distance away from Danny as possible. And whenever they need to converse, he made sure it is just a short conversation and nothing would be personal. I noticed that and I knew that it’s his way of saying sorry.

Gian has always been open to me about his feelings. But this time, there’s probably that sense of shame that he felt after our conversation about him falling for a girl. I wouldn’t actually blame him. He’s still a guy.

No matter how I try to make myself believe that Gian will forever be gay, I can never erase the fact that he could actually turn out to still be falling for the opposite sex. The principal rule of ‘sex is fluid’ started to reverberate in my head as I thought about it.

Stopping Gian from his feelings towards girls would surely make that principle, which I ferevently believed in for the longest time, slap me right in the face. But this thought never really made me comfortable. Why is it easier to accept rules as long as they don’t apply to you? I would often ask myself. But this was one of the things I knew I cannot control. It’s his feelings, not mine, and I knew perfectly well where I should stand.

A week had past and Gian finally talked to me about the issue. Apparently, he realized that he was never into Danny, or to any other girls for that matter. He was gay and that was it. No questions asked.

He even joked that his RJ (RJ was the nickname we call his penis. It was actually the opposite of JR from junior which what we call mine) only gets hard for me. That remark, coming from him made me smile. Not only because it was just a joke but also because it meant a lot to me.

Coincidentally, right after knowing that Gian clearly doesn’t have any romantic feelings for Danny, the latter also tried one time to bring up the topic with me. Apparently, there were really no GiNny love affair happening behind my back.

Danny doesn’t really have any feelings for Gian for she totally loves Vic. And if ever she was single, she assured me that I’ll be the first one to know if they become a couple. Too bad for Danny, she doesn’t know that Gian would never ever have feelings for her. But I’m glad the dilemma fixed itself for me.
Another reason for me to really breathe a deep sigh of relief.

After all the drama that transpired between the three of us (which Danny, apparently was unaware of), we were able to continue working together in harmony. No hidden motives, no hidden feelings. Just pure, professional work.

The day for the defense of our thesis was just three days away and we were all in our emotional extremes. The tension was really high that I had been always in an argument with my other thesis mates.

Being the devil’s advocate, I had always been trying to bring up possible holes to the study and I end up fighting with either one or two of my groupmates because they wanted me to just shut my pie hole. But afterwards, as we all calm down, they would soon realize that what I was doing is beneficial for our team, esp. when the real defense happens.

It will prepare us for possible questions that would arise during the presentation which we must be able to address properly.

As the hours tick, the more we became anxious because we still need to finish a lot of things and our presentation was not yet even polished.  Some of the possible questions we thought about were still unanswered and we can’t even find it anywhere we look.

Apparently, Gian was able to provide light to some of our issues. That’s what’s really good about having a non-technical person in hand. He was able to give us insights from an external perspective. We were too much ingrained with the technical, not knowing that we can approach issues on a more casual and less complicated manner.

This was the time when I wasn’t able to give Gian the right treatment. This was the time when I would’ve wished I could just turn back the hands of time and make sure that he was properly taken care. And this is where I totally blew it.

The height of emotional tension and overall pressure made me extremely moody and I knew Gian had been my emotional sponge, taking everything in. Aside from the fact that I am moodier than ever, I also began to act like a 4-year-old.

I didn’t mean any of those things to happen though, but it still happened right before my very eyes. I’ve said harsh things to him and I knew I couldn’t anymore take those things back. But Gian kept silent all along. I never heard him complain nor get angry at me. He understood me, more than anyone else.

I would’ve wished I had shown him enough appreciation that time. I would’ve wished I could’ve said all the nice things I should’ve said for being my shock-absorber, but I never did. Nor did I even try.

I was too engulfed with the thought that this big event in my life would make or break my future. I had been too insensitive and too selfish that I wasn’t anymore thinking that we are a couple; that we should care for each other despite the fact that we also care about other things.

Then the dreaded day of judgment came. And due to some twist of fate and unimaginable lack of luck, we were the ones who will defend first, out of all the 13 groups that would present. And we weren’t even finish with our visual presentation.

We woke up early and that day to prepare for we still have to do a lot of things. Talking about cramming here. And as ridiculous as it sounds, we still need to go to a seminar for graduating students in the morning. How inauspicious could it get?

Anyway, we still went even though it was really raining hard outside. So there we were, all four of us, in our corporate attire, drenched in rainwater, trying to get into the seminar venue.

While we were at the seminar, my mind was not totally on what the lady speaker was trying to say. All I knew is that I need to finish this presentation before noon, when our defense would take place.

We decided not to finish the whole thing since we already signed the attendance sheet. So we went out sneakily and we hailed a cab to the venue of our defense. The rain was still pouring hard and traffic jam had started. We didn’t know that something’s about to happen that fateful day,

By the looks of it, we will only have probably an hour to get everything done. But still, we were hopeful. Disaster is the last thing we wished we’d experience.

Then my phone beeped. It was Karen, one of my colleagues and also one of the presentors. Their group was going to defend after ours. He was asking me if our defense will push through. It was flooded already in their place and the traffic was in a parking lot condition (all cars were stuck and not moving).

An idea suddenly popped into my head. If it’s going to be the case for all students, then our professor might probably cancel the whole thing. As evil as it sounded, I really wished that the downpour would continue and even get harder so that our defense would be cancelled.

When I was young, I really am that selfish, trying to wish that the rain would get hard so that classes would be suspended. And this is not a different case.

I would’ve both hated the rain for making everything so difficult but at the back of my head, I’m thanking it for actually making things difficult for everyone, as long as it is to my favor. Really, how evil could I get?

When we arrived at the building, we were all in a rush towards the third floor and since our professor is not yet informing us of the suspension of the presentation, we need to hurry and finish everything just in case. Now, I’m starting to hate the rain even more.

And as soon as we reached the floor, we immediately looked for a place where we could do the dirty work. We were all busy finishing things that I wasn’t able to notice the messages that came to my phone.

After finally putting the finishing touches to the visual presentation, we can all finally breathe. We can say that we are ready, even if the nerves started to kick in as the time ticked away.

 As I was about to check my phone for new messages, our professor appeared in the hallway and saw us.

“Oh! You’re all there! You’re the first group to present right? Didn’t you receive my message?”

We all looked at each other, clueless.

“I just sent a text brigade to all of you informing that the presentation would be cancelled. The typhoon is getting worse so I decided to just cancel it. So there. You can still have more time to prepare.” He smiled at us and then he left, just like that.

We were all still shocked at what he just said. After all the catastrophes we’ve been through, we’ll just find out that the class had been suspended. I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad with the news, but what can we do. We just need to accept the fact that my wishes came true, only that it happened late.

I was finally able to check my messages and there it was, the message that my professor sent. All the others came from other classmates forwarding the same message to everyone concerned. Karen also told me about it and that the typhoon already hit Manila.

That was actually the tragic day when Super Typhoon Ondoy hit Metro Manila and other provinces. A very fateful day indeed.

We were stuck in school for hours, with no food. Thank God that we still have electricity in the vicinity and that we were in a very high place. We were not aware that the typhoon had already destroyed infrastructures and had killed hundreds of lives. All we were concerned about that time was how we could get home safely and how we could eat.

That was really one of my most unforgettable experience as a student who was about to graduate. I still remembered when Danny and I conquered the rain with a frail umbrella which actually eventually got destroyed by the strong winds and strong downpour.

We were trying to look for a place where we could buy food because we were all hungry. Rina decided to just stay in our classroom for she’s too weak to go out. Charm on the other hand went home for she just lives nearby.

Those were the days of total mayhem and distraught. But fortunately, we were able to survive it. Although I got depressed once I learned the true nature of the storm and how it devastated the country.

Now that I think about it, my relationship with Gian is also starting to be hit by a tropical storm; an unforeseen disaster waiting to happen.

And as I looked back, there were a lot of things I wasn’t able to control, but I wish I could’ve. But at the end of it all, never did I imagine that this storm would ultimately lead to the death of two souls which would’ve been saved if the older person tried to warn the other of a perilous path ahead.

Now, as I sat on my office desk, only a few minutes before I can go home, I checked the remaining unread messages on my phone, and it was from one of the characters in my past. Someone I had never expected would reconnect with me.

Hello baby bro! I hope you still remember me! Musta ka na? Pwede ba tayong magkita?
Sender: Kuya BJ

[Picture taken from:]