Monday, June 13, 2011

Act 25: Brothers

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

The light from my phone went out but the message lingered in my head. Kuya BJ? Why did he send me a message all of a sudden? After all the things that happened in the past, why would he still send me a message?

Kuya BJ had been a very big part of my life, and that is not an overstatement. If there is someone who I can say I considered to be a real brother, that would be him. That status actually was the reason why our relationship had been both bitter and sweet.

I could still remember the first time we got to know each other. It was due to an unexpected message that came through my mobile phone.

That time, I was in the university, trying to inquire about the entrance exam and the requirements I need to be able to take it. Being new to the whole experience of finally doing something on my own for the first time, I can still imagine the gallons of sweat I perspired that time.

It was such a hot afternoon, so after finding my way and finally getting my application form, I decided to rest for a while. As I sat on a bench under a shed, my phone vibrated, and that was the first time I felt something vibrating. When I looked at my phone, I already got 23 new messages. I wasn’t able to notice my phone the whole time I was talking with the admin officer in the Admissions office.

Most of the messages came from my high school classmates asking me how my trip went. They had a lot of questions which I thought I’ll just answer when we see each other.

Then there was this one message (the one that caused my phone to vibrate just this time) that stood out among the rest, mainly because it was just a number.

Normally, it is very seldom for me to receive messages from unknown senders because I rarely give my number. Only my classmates and members of the family knew it, and now, here’s this number illuminated on the screen, as if trying to convince me to open it.

Anyway, instead of just erasing it, something told me to just open it and erase it afterwards. After clicking the number, a message appeared on the screen.

Hey! Kamusta ka na? Ang tagal na nating hindi nagkakausap. Text ka naman jan. Miss you.

I was looking at the message with a blank face. Then I started thinking deeply as to who could’ve sent this text.

I tried to list down in my head people whom I had not connected with for the longest time, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t remember any. More importantly, I had no idea of someone I know that has a phone but is not registered in my contacts list.

As hesitant as an aeroacrophobiac about to do a bungee jump, I still replied to the message.

Who’s this please?

I tried to be as casual yet polite as possible even if I got a feeling that it was just a missent message. To be safe, I tried to be more decent, but to not sound excited or interested at the same time.

A few seconds later, my phone again vibrated and the person behind the unknown number replied.

Hey! Sorry ha, the message was supposed to be for my friend whom I haven’t talked to for a long time already. What’s funny is that her number and yours are almost alike, except for the 8 and 3 at the end. When another friend of mine gave her number, the 3 looked like an 8 so when I sent the message, it went directly to you instead to her. Sorry about that.

The message was quite unusually long that made me somewhat interested with the sender. Normally, when a message is sent to the wrong person, a short “sorry, wrong send” message will suffice, but this message was an effort. So to be fair, I also replied with a very friendly tone.

Oh, it’s okay. I don’t mind. Anyway, thank you for the quite long yet very informative explanation of what really happened. The effort is appreciated. At least you’re not a stalker or a bad guy targeting a new victim. Have a nice day! :)

When I pressed send, I thought it would be the end, but I was mistaken. A few more seconds when I was about to leave the shed to ride a jeep, my phone vibrated again. It came from the same unknown number.

Wow, you are very nice! Thank you very much for understanding. And also, thank you for replying to my messages, I know I’ve been wasting your load but I’m having a good laugh with your reply. How sure are you I’m not a bad guy? You don’t know, I might be stalking you. By the way, why are you wearing a black shirt?
Sender: +63922*******

After reading the message, I don’t know but I laughed at it for unknown reasons. Maybe because he sucked in acting like a stalker. I know my message sounded a little sarcastic with the bad guy comment and all, but I just really suck in making funny statements. Most of the time, I often get misunderstood because of that. Anyway, the message caught me so I replied.

Oh wow, you’re such a lousy stalker. For your information, I’m not wearing a black shirt. Hahaha. But to be honest, I planned on wearing one this morning.

After sending the message, I noticed how it sounded too flirty. God, what am I thinking? I don’t actually flirt with someone, even more with a stranger but there I was exchanging messages with an unfamiliar person. I thought at how pathetic I looked, but I was just too hooked with the whole talking to a stranger idea.

I just find the whole exchange a breath of fresh air. It had made me smile and laugh even after a very tiring day at the university. Never did it enter my mind afterwards that this person might probably know me and just trying to pull my leg, or might even really be a psycho-killer who wants to get my trust and then kills me afterwards.

What the heck, I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me, so why should I worry? Right? As much as I try to contradict myself, I know I can’t erase the fact that I’m enjoying the whole thing.

The next thing I thought about was whether this person was a guy or a girl. That time, I know I’ve been different already and that I get attracted with the same sex, but I haven’t disclosed that fact to anyone. Of course, this person doesn’t also know whether I’m a guy or a girl. Our responses remained to be as androgynous as possible. Not until the next message he sent.

Btw, I’m Benjamin Jose. BJ for short. May I know whom I’m talking to, if it’s okay? :D
Sender: +63922*******

After reading the name, I silently laughed. His name sounded like a name from a Mexican telenovela (along with the likes of Fernando Jose and Juan Miguel) which was very popular that time.

At the back of my mind, I was actually worried because he was a guy. And I know for a fact that guys would prefer to talk to the opposite sex rather than the same sex, most specially if it is a stranger you are talking to. Not unless…

So there I was, holding my phone and wondering what to reply to his message. I can pretend to be a girl so he wouldn’t be disappointed and because I really enjoy his company even if we’re just texting, but how far can that take me? If I say “I’m Marky” and that I’m obviously a guy, I would surely risk losing him and throwing all the nice conversations we had.

I was thinking deeply when I finally decided to just be honest. Anyway, I can’t forever hide from a girl’s name and get away with it.

Uhm, hi Benjamin Jose. Uhm, I’m Marky.

I kept my message as short as possible. No smileys, no anything. Plain. Simple. I was thinking of two possible scenarios after sending the message. One, either I would get a hate response from him and he would curse me for not telling it straight ahead. Or two, I would not get any response whatsoever. Anyway, regardless, I still have that very tiny glimmer of hope that it would turn out otherwise.

The next thing I know, my phone was already vibrating and when I looked at my inbox, it was from him. I did the sign of the cross and hoped for the best.

Hi Marky! Nice to know you! Btw, don’t call me Benjamin Jose, aside from it being too long, I sound like a Telenovela character. Just call me BJ for short. :)
Sender: +63922*******

After reading the message, my heart fluttered like there was no tomorrow. I was obviously smiling at my phone, which grabbed the attention of some of the passengers in the jeep. I just smiled at them and I quickly replied.

Whew! Gee, I didn’t expect you would still reply. But I’m really glad you did. I’m actually getting ready to receive curse words from you. Thank God I was wrong. :D

With that, the rest was history. He told me that he’s fine texting with another guy and that for him, friendship should not be limited to age, gender or even nationality. I can’t believe how open-minded this guy was. To be honest, during that time, even if I know that I’m different, I haven’t actually immersed myself in the world of bisexuality or even homosexuality. The society had a strong grip on me and I know I’m still bounded by the norms.

Anyway, that was how we found each other and when I learned that he was two years older than me, I finally decided to call him Kuya and he was fine with it. He even told me that he also had a brother but he already passed away. What made me closer to him is the fact that if his brother had been alive, he would be the same age as I am.

I guess that was one reason why he was very protective of me, and very affectionate as well. He has three sisters and not one brother, another reason for him to be closer to me.

No matter how I put it, I’m still a guy, and he could still relate with me more compared to his sisters. Not that he is not close to them, in fact, he is also very protective of them, but he did the same for me. He actually treated me not less than a real brother.

Apparently, the next few weeks, we decided to meet. That was when I went back to the university to submit all my requirements. Since he lives not far from the university, we decided to take the opportunity to finally meet.

To be honest, I was very nervous back then. Even if we had been good friends and we’ve shared a lot of things with each other already, the whole idea of meeting up is still new to me. I don’t know how I would act, or what to expect.

I am actually more anxious about what he expects from me. Back then, I was a very lousy dresser, and I don’t really fix myself to impress or grab the attention of others. I just comb my hair and wear whatever I can get from my closet. For me, as long as I wore something, I’m already fine with it.

If I could remember, where we met was the same waiting shed where we first texted. It actually happened coincidentally. Since I’m still not very familiar with the places in the university and since it will also be the first time for Kuya BJ to go to the place, we just kept on texting and describing where we are. Because I know a little more than him regarding some major landmarks, I decided to be the one to go to him. Apparently, the waiting shed he chose was the same waiting shed I had been before we texted, and when I told him, he just can’t believe it.

Anyway, the first few minutes were a little awkward but eventually, we got along well, like when we were still texting. Kuya BJ is not exactly a head turner. Like me, he is very simple, but he knows how to dress up properly. He can be fashionable but he knows how not to overdo it.

That time, we were about the same height but I grew up a few inches higher than him. He has a more moreno skin, an average built and based from what I saw, he is a little on the hairy side.

Everything happened from there and from then on, we did a lot of things together and shared a lot of things. We treated each other like real brothers, but unlike others, we are very affectionate towards each other. We show and say how we care for one another and I can say we did love each other like real brothers.

As time went, I was able to introduce him to my parents, and at the same time, he was able to introduce me to his family as well. All of his sisters were very nice to me, as well as his mom. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet his dad because it already passed away when he was still young.

I can’t say our relationship had been smooth all the time. We also had some rough patches here and there, but we managed to fix all those up.

My mom would oftentimes describe us as the cat and mouse tandem. We have had lots of petty fights but those were fights that usually end up in both of us admitting our mistakes and just laughing it all off afterwards.

We were very much immature back then. We get jealous with very little stuff and we easily get emotional whenever we both don’t get our way. But one thing I could remember back then was that we seldom get angry at each other at the same time. Whenever Kuya BJ is not in a good mood, I would usually be the one to comfort and woo him. But whenever I am the one who’s upset, he will be there to calm me down.

I remember before that he usually looks at me in the eye and he would hug me really tight and I would feel the sincerity during those times. I would then soften up a bit and the next thing I know, we are already on each other’s arms.

If I were to be asked, Kuya BJ and I had this certain bond that falls between being brothers and being in love. During that time, we knew we compliment each other. We act like lovers when we’re alone or in private but we joke and fool around like brothers in public.

It was actually a very confusing setup. We were together, acting like brothers but we feel something there that we cannot really fathom. It’s like being together and enjoying each others company, without the labels and all. We just enjoy the time that we spent with each other, regardless of how we really see ourselves.

It’s complicated, I know, but it was as if we had this unspoken pact between us that binds us together in a very unexplainable way. That was all before he actually got fed up with the whole thing and decided to take it up a notch by telling me how he really felt towards me.

The confession changed a lot of things between us. And the way we treated each other changed. I know it shouldn’t have been the case if only I was mature enough to accept him as my first ever boyfriend, but I am stronger than him. I held back all my feelings for him and felt that we should be better off as friends.

That really broke his heart, but he cannot do anything about it. He knew how fix I am with my decisions. Now that I think about it, I still wonder what could’ve been if I accepted him. But still, I didn’t regret the choice I made.

I hesitated for a while but still, I replied. I don’t want to look rude and if ever, I really don’t know the reason why I should not reply.

Of course kuya! How would I forget you? Btw, I’m doing well now. Thank you! I already got a job in a bank and so far, I’m getting used to the whole new experience. How about you? I haven’t heard from you for a VERY long time. I guess we really need to catch up on everything that happened while we were NOT communicating.

I made sure to put stress on parts which I really meant to say. I know he would notice it, and most probably, he would sense it. I want to make him feel that I’m not that interested yet I was a little looking forward to seeing him again. Not long after, he replied.

Haha, well, I know it had been a long time, and I know I owe you a lot of stories. Things that happened to me and why I was not communicating with you for the past few months. I have my reasons. And by the way, I’ll be leaving soon...
Sender: Kuya BJ

My eyes rolled when he said he had his reasons, but what had gotten my attention was the last part of the message. I’ll be leaving soon… What does he mean? And with the ellipsis at the end, I know he is serious about it. I sense the urgency in his message and the abrupt change in tone. I quickly replied.

Leaving? Going where? To the province? To your hometown? For how long? Is everything alright over there?

Waiting for his reply took a little longer than usual, and the wait had been painstaking for me. I wanted to know what’s up with him. He went to their province a few times before but he does not sound too stern when he told me about it, but now, I just felt something in his message.

Finally, my phone vibrated. I quickly opened the message and after reading it, I just stared at it. I don’t know what to feel. Should I get angry? Should I feel sad? Should I feel indifferent? But I can’t control myself from feeling different emotions at the same time. The next thing I know, I’m already setting up a date with him, ASAP. After replying, I leaned on my chair and closed my eyes, I don’t know why I felt that way, after all that had happened between us, but I just felt that piercing feeling of loneliness and longing deep within me that I cannot explain. As my phone lie on top of my table, I still had the message illuminated on the screen before the lights went out.

No Mark, I’m leaving soon. I’ll be going to the Middle East to work. Mark, I’ll finally be able to be with my mom after a long time. This is what I had been waiting for since mom left to work abroad. I guess this would also open more opportunities for me. And I might stay there, for good...
Sender: Kuya BJ