this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on August 23, 2015.
It is August. The rains of August are almost always strong, like they could wash everything away from you, the way my entire life would have been washed away had the stars been aligned ever so differently. I will always remember one rainstorm that struck just days after the “Buwan ng Wika” celebration.
Everything seemed normal. Although it was not a good day, no rain threatened to suspend classes. Still, I did not attend my classes in the afternoon, for it was decided during English class and nearly executed during lunch: I will kill myself.
I combed the school for places where I could possibly do the deed, and I found one high enough to my liking. I then attempted to plunge into the darkness about which people spend so much of their lifetime questioning, when someone found me. A friend. Perhaps she saw that my eyes were trains, looking straight ahead of me without a thought to what goes on on either side of her world. Perhaps she sensed there was something wrong. She followed me until she saw what she saw, and ran as fast as a cheetah.
I cried and begged her to release me. She finally did, in my very own classroom. I looked lost, like this was not part of the plan I crafted just earlier. I mean, correction: a plan I had been crafting since I was 13, one plan I could have braved only on that day I was so sad that not even the rain could rival my tears.
Because I looked lost, I must have seemed crazy to those who saw. This concerned my adviser, who let me go only after I convinced her that I was all right. But as I sat down on my chair, I felt as lonely as the chairs in the room would be by the time, say, everyone had left at twilight. I could only try to cry all the pain out. Another teacher saw, and was finally able to shake me real hard, so hard that I admitted I had done something I shouldn’t have done.
She recommended me to the guidance counselor, and I had a green light to skip all my classes for the next few hours. The talk was torture enough. But I had to do it. It was like taking out the trash only because the pile was beginning to stink. Finally, then, the bell signaled dismissal. I had to go.
It was raining by the time I got out. It rained so hard that my companion and I had a difficult time getting a jeepney ride home. This rain must have snapped open a thousand umbrellas. It could also be that it was crying along with me, as I had told everything I ever felt to someone I barely knew.
Now, this companion whom I speak about was a lover of mine, ironically. I had someone’s hand to hold every time, and someone to profess his love for me through love letters. Yet these same hands that caressed his were the ones capable of breaking all my lights.
He didn’t know. I didn’t want him to know. But he was a best friend of mine, so under the umbrella, I announced what I had just tried to do. He kept mumbling, “Thank you, thank you,” as a sign of gratitude to the one who had “rescued” me from my death. He then wanted to rid my system of this sadness. He brought me to Mang Inasal and made me devour all the extra rice I wanted, just so it made me happy enough to at least forget about the sadness. When we stepped out, the rain had dwindled to a drizzle, and we got home at around 6 p.m.
When my mother came home, she was so relieved that I could almost hear her chest expand from all the nervousness she released within that moment. I heard from the others that she had called the police and fire departments to search the entire area of Pasig just so I may be found. It was in that moment that I knew she had an inkling of what had happened that day. I locked myself in the room and stared at the ceiling, in great contemplation of when my next attempt would be.
Despite how difficult it was for me, I was able to sleep under the cacophony of the rain. The rain raging then was but a reminder of my absence at home, which would have been permanent if what should have happened, happened. It was like the rain was washing away every nightmare I had gone through, whether I encountered them in the morning, or in sleep. But I hoped then that it would wash away my entire life.
The next day, I thought I was completely clean to the bone, clean of everything I had ever felt. It turned out that I would be stuck in a tunnel of forever trying to wash myself away.
* * *
That was before. I am still here, alive, watching the rain from the windowsill. In the silence of the rain, I cannot help but wonder. I wonder if they think about me. My teachers. The guidance counselors. My past lover. The “guardian angel” whom God sent to me. I wonder if they think about me in the rain, if they know that I am not yet dead. Or if they ever think about me at all.
It is August. The rains of August are almost always strong, like they could wash everything away from you, the way my entire life would have been washed away had the stars been aligned ever so differently. I will always remember one rainstorm that occurred just days after the “Buwan ng Wika” celebration. And it has been three years.