A family. Memories of sanguine childhood. Mama’s home-cooked meals. Hallways filled with history of accidentally spilt milk, and walls occupied by pictures hung of birthdays and reunions seldom dusted… These are the things that make a home, or so they say. None of which I now cherish, for I am the only one left and they are those who chose to live on.
But I have fragmented memories, at least, and I look back at them from time to time. Like those moments I tried on papa’s huge loafers and dreamt my feet would fit them someday. Like when mama woke me up that particular morning to let me ride my new bicycle they just bought me while she sat on the front porch and sipped on a cup of coffee. Come evenings when mama comes home from work with a pasalubong of my favorite Jollibee meal and that time when I locked myself in their room because I did something stupid and only opened the door after a few hours begging not to be punished. Yes, I remember them dearly. I always was so spoiled.
Oh, how I felt so proud seeing papa on TV. He was broadcasting the news back then and I always waited for him to greet me before letting out his famous punch line: “Hoy! Gising!” Oh, how I must have felt so proud.
How can I forget that dawn in 1999 when I awoke with crusty eyes hearing mama cry on the staircase? Papa just left a letter and never said goodbye, at least not to me. And I ran outside looking for him, as if expecting to see him with his bags and be enough reason to persuade him to stay, crying like a little boy would.
But I knew better after.
Romance. A lover’s first kiss. Cliques of adolescent brothers by bond you knew or thought would be there to remain. The perception of a contradicting world you deemed to be unsafe. The cough from the curious drag of your first cigarette, and a shirt stained with vomit induced by a night of blurry consciousness. These are what I have christened home or so I have assured myself. Some of which I still cherish, but I have learned that romance can do much damage for feeble hearts like mine, and a kiss can lose sincerity the second time around. I have learned that not all brothers would stay when they learn to decide for themselves, and I should have known. I should have known.
The world is still unsafe as it was, but I’m not that innocent child of fourteen anymore, so I carry on with my nth cigarette of the night and watch the world around me blur until I wake up without a memory of it all.
I should have known better, after all.
Music, songs of which are clearly meant for me, pages of books that keep me distant from the contradicting world I’m in, a name etched on my skin in hopes this time something stays permanent, the deafening silence of a room filled with smoke and a guitar on the corner that have become my best friend… This is the place I live in now. Maybe not all stay forever. I, for one, have no plans in dwelling long.
Maybe I’ll forget about the things I held so dear. Maybe nothing ever stays at all. No, maybe this lonely room isn’t home any longer, and I don’t know where is.
Favor, a resident of Davao City, speaks volumes through his guitar strings. Not to be misconstrued, cigarettes and tattoos do not define him, but his incessant thirst for truth.