Jasmine partook of limp spicy chicken flavored Yakisoba noodles and cold pan de sal. She sat on the smooth cement floor of the sala, looking blue against the television light. On the screen, Sam was trying to impress Mikaela with his new car. No one knew what made Transformers, with its bloated running time and cardboard characters, so appealing to her. It was eleven a.m. and she had just woken up. Feeling too lazy to go out, she decided to eat anything there was in the dusty cupboard and on the round dining table. She put her plate down–her meal barely finished; reached her notebook from last semester and scribbled on the back page. Her light brown eyes glimmered as she showed what she wrote to me.
- buy groceries
- go to Kate’s (and wait for something interesting to happen there)
- hang out with friends
- do something
- do something else
- don’t panic
- live long and prosper
- get annoyed at self if things in this list are not done
She stood in front of the bathroom sink to wash her face and brush her teeth; leaving Sam go on with his conversation with Optimus Prime and some other Autobots.
Jasmine rode a tricycle to Shopwise to do that week’s grocery. Her mother left early in the morning for work–she was employed in the family business: a school for “the special,” as her auntie would say–and left Jasmine with cash and a list of things needed.
“But it’s sembreak,” she blurted out as she handed a twenty-peso bill to the driver. “There’s no school, and it’s my birthday and I’m doing the damn grocery.” Her hair, tied in a tight pony tail, swayed as she walked into the supermarket; revealing also two small black earrings in her right ear, and three on the left. She grabbed a cart and went from aisle to aisle.
Yes, it was her nineteenth birthday; and no, she was not ranting because her mother was not around, nor because she was in a supermarket. She was ranting because it was her way to keep bad thoughts away from her head. During her first year in high school, she would talk about this certain faceless man in her dreams that stood over her bed to watch her sleep. It was a recurring dream that started when she was nine. Her mom went home drunk one night and Jasmine asked about her father, who she never once saw. Her mother described her father like a transcendental asshole. That was the last time she inquired about him. She suspected that the man in her dream was her father. He would stay to watch her sleep, but more often than not, he would turn his back and walk away. Nothing about it bothered her until early this summer, when the man smiled in a sinister way and attempted to choke her. And now, she was ranting while throwing things into her cart.
go to Kate’s (and wait for something interesting to happen there)
She took a quick shower after she had asked me (ordered, actually) to wash the dishes and arrange the groceries for her as a birthday gift. I agreed with a groan. I had told her days earlier that I could only offer companionship because I was financially incapable of giving her any gift. She rummaged through her closet, half-naked. Her inked rib exposed. “Serenity Prayer” was tattooed horizontally under her right breast.
Kate was a friend of Jasmine’s ex-girlfriend; they became friends after their break-up. “Who would’ve thought that I’d become lesbian?” Jasmine chuckled. She wanted to go to Kate’s, saying that Mary Jane, her new girlfriend, was there. They were going strong, she added.
“Good day, you!” she chirped as she ran down the stony path to the wooden door of Kate’s house.
“Whoa, Tajajajing Potpot! I didn’t know you’re still alive,” a hundred-fifty kilo girl with army cut hair greeted her, beaming, arms spread wide open.
An imitation of the Mona Lisa hung in a pale yellow wall; beneath it was the altar of the Sto. Nino. Kate announced she would get Mary Jane in the room as a present to Jasmine.
“Great. Call Harry Potter now,” Jasmine told her.
Kate went out for a few minutes, and threw a packet of dried leaves on the plastic table when she got back. The “traditional” or “unflavored” pot was the cheapest, sold at fifty pesos per gram. Pipe was passed around. The last person would hand the pipe to the next one, and would say “Hinulugang Taktak” (their established Go Word) when she finished. Not long after the session began, Kate started farting–the kind that was loud and smelly. That would get Jasmine laughing. Perhaps it was the third fart when she did not laugh. She head-banged. There was no music in the room (and certainly the sounds coming out of Kate’s bottom was not a song). She was seeing music with her bloodshot eyes.
hang out with friends
We rode a jeep to SM Marikina. I had to hold her very closely because she did not seem to see the path clearly. She said she was still seeing music, and my alleged dragon’s head, as well. When we arrived at the pizza restaurant, few other friends were settled at a table. There were eight of us. We had been together since first year high school. Because of our surnames starting from letters R down to V we were made to sit at the back of the classroom together. We sang Jasmine Happy Birthday, and lit the candle on the cake they bought. Jasmine ordered three different family-sized pizzas and two plates of spaghetti for us. We gorged while they talked.
They conversed about plates to do, proposals to make, and other school activities. Everyone was taking summer classes except Jasmine and I.
“Oh, come on. You guys are all about academic stuff. You don’t know how to have fun.” Jasmine interrupted. “Real fun. Right?” She winked at me.
Jasmine stared at the view overlooking the night lights of nearby cities with dreamy eyes. Wisps of hair were stuck to her sweat-covered forehead. Her long thin fingers circled her third bottle of Colt 45. The two of us were at Padi’s Point Antipolo, the other six had to go home because they had classes to attend the next day.
“If only Mama didn’t live in with Giselle maybe I wouldn’t be curious of being a lesbian,” she said after seconds of silence.
Her mother’s last relationship was with Giselle. They started living together when Jasmine was nine years old–the same year she first dreamt of the faceless man; the same year she began being aloof to her own mother. Jasmine hated that her mother never tried to consult her about the relationship. “I love her. I love her so bad,” was all her mother answered when she questioned why they were together.
The relationship ended, however, after five years.
Her mother was out the night Giselle went home late with the smell of alcohol in her breath, and tried sexually assaulting Jasmine. Her auntie, who happened to live next door, heard Jasmine’s screams and came to rescue. The next day, she saw her mother putting Giselle’s things up in the bodega. No words were exchanged between mother and daughter.
“It’s disgusting how women their age would exchange love notes.” She smirked. “I think it was just last year. Yeah, it was last year. I went inside Mama’s bedroom. There was a box under her bed, and inside that box were letters and small gifts. I was angry. Why would Mama keep those? I burnt everything I found in that stupid little box.” Her eyes watered.
do something else
Her mother was asleep on the couch in front of the TV set when we got back to their apartment. A pile of paper laid on the floor. Did she even know it was her daughter’s birthday? I helped Jasmine get to her bed.
“I’m not drunk.” Her eyes were closed. “Did I do everything in my to-do list?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Is Mama home?” she inquired. Her mother–who had slapped her after finding out that her daughter had turned the memories of her former girlfriend into ashes; and who expressed her disappointment the moment she found out her daughter had a girlfriend herself–was all she thought about.
“I’m not drunk,” she repeated, giggling. “Did you know where Mama got my name?”
She laughed. “Fuck you.” For a moment I thought she had fallen asleep, until she spoke again. “Auntie said Papa used to bring Mama jasmine flowers when he was courting her. Sweet, no? She also said I got my nose and lips from Papa. Mama never told me that. Hey, did I do everything in my list?” she asked once more.
“Really?” She grinned, eyes still shut.
“I didn’t panic?”
“What was the something and the something else I did?”
I thought for a moment. “There were a lot. You did a lot.”
Her breathing became deep, and a tear ran down her cheek. She was asleep.
Viv Salve is a third year BA English student at UP Mindanao.