The Holidays are over. The last clumps of Graham cake have already been devoured; the last songs in the karaoke have already met their applause; the drunkards crumpling in their beds in hang-over— indeed, after happiness is pain.
Having led an unfruitful sedentary lifestyle during these days of decadence, I decided to take a little walk to the nearby mall. I’m not really planning to buy anything; I just want to stretch some bones. So I donned a rather worn-out T-shirt, a high school PE pants and a pair of 40-peso slippers.
By good Jove, the moment I presented myself to the guard, she already gave me a suspicious look, a piercing stare and a cautionary smirk seeming to reprimand me for a crime I may do.
So I went to a Japanese thrift shop upstairs where they sometimes sell books that Japanese people threw away for Ipads. I navigated the aisles, investigated those pieces of utensils, picture frames, hammers (maybe that is what you call ‘consumer instinct’, because suddenly I felt I was compelled to buy). I resisted the urge to waste money, and triumphantly exited the store. After two steps away from the store, another ladyguard tugged my arm. “Sir, pasearch lang ah.” I heeded her overdue request to prove my innocence, and she proceeded to touch my pockets and my torso (hehehe).
As she was busily probing my body for any suspicious ‘bulk’ (haha), I saw people, in fact a lot of them, pass us by, uninspected. So the glaring question is: why the hell did the ladyguard labored herself in searching a boy like me? Because I look like a penniless pauper? Because I didn’t buy anything? I guess in this consumer world, anyone who refuses to buy is condemned to be doubtful, must be ashamed of himself.
The guard finished her rather lengthy inspection with an uncompassionate ‘OK’. I doubted if she said that to me or to the oxygen around us; she was staring at the air. Maybe she too is not that proud of what she is doing.
That is the way of things, I guess. After the orgasm of holidays— the whistling bombs in the sky, the booming ‘Goodbye Philippines’, the ritual to put decent food on the table and jump after the New Year countdown— everyone goes back to where we really are, to being paranoid keloids. The lechon yesterday was instantly transformed into paksiw. The jolly news yesterday was again replaced by the irritating news on politics and water price hikes. I exited the mall with a feeling of annoyance.
So let’s start the New Year with a pang. I guess the drunkards are quite accurate in their acts— after the happiness is pain. And hardship and loneliness and anger and disappointment and hunger. And consoling ourselves that beyond all these hardships is the Holidays respite, however brief, that will purge us anew. And the cycle goes on until who knows when.