Thursday, July 5, 2012


Half of our house is being sold. In its middle, a wall is about to erect which will form a barricade, dividing our side from the kitchen of my childhood, the backroom where the Help used to sleep in and a good bunch of my relatives. The structure, from the outside, is like an apple being cut in half. Only an apple is edible whichever side you choose to take. Perhaps the more appropriate analogy is like a plant germinated through cross-cutting. You sort of hope and pray that after the division, it’ll grow again, separate and thriving.

 It’s a good analogy, I think. My grandmother, who originally owned this house, was fond of plants. They’ve all died now, of course, as did the house too when she finally passed. We’ve all just been sucking from its life form until it had none left to give us. It is a ramshackle of a house now really. The glass windows have gathered centimeters of dust. Some of the pipes are showing like intestines that splat out from a hit-and run, and all the wooden furniture have either termites or pee stains. Still, it was comforting to know the stories of its wounds, that we inflicted most of it. As of the time of this writing, half of the house now belongs to my boyfriend, or at least his company, who will take care of the project of building from the ruins. They will renovate it, resell it, then hand it to a young couple who will waste no time in building over my memories.

 ‘At least we’ll get to see each other almost everyday now’, he quips. I give him the obligatory smile.

 Since we’re talking about halves, I’ve now resold half of my heart back to myself. My boyfriend’s tenure has just expired. Call it forced eviction if you will, or an intelligent foreclosure. Whichever it is, it is only I who knows.

 ‘We’ll have to be professional.’ he warns me. The groundbreaking is set for tomorrow. He is worried that I might display my affection too much in front of his colleagues although it’s been a good few months since I ever did ,save for an occasional hug from the back so my eyes will not meet his or a toss of his unruly hair which he finds so affectionate, like a puppy. I assure him I had no intentions of doing such and go back to packing the bric-a-brac left before the construction debris get to them. I have packed all my belongings as if I were leaving too. They are packed in large Balikbayan boxes that symbolize a false leaving. Actually, I don’t really know whether I’m coming home to or leaving from. I am probably like this house, confused whether it is being destroyed or reborn.

 My boyfriend is orchestrating a celebration in honor of the house this evening. We will commemorate, as he said, ‘the beauty and spirit of old things’. He will speak to me, I anticipate, about the natural order of things or about structural integrity. He’s smart like that. My parents and relatives willingly attend. It’s just a house. It’s just a house. Really, it’s just a house, they all tell me.

 Late that night, they all give approving stares towards our direction. My boyfriend is basking in the role of redeeming hero. My relatives are flitting in and out like bees in the corner where we chose to reside for the night. An uncle approaches. This is the same uncle who used to slam the door and bang the plates every time my boyfriend visits. But today he has a smile plastered on his face. It’s been there since the party started. He asks the boyfriend about the present state of the real estate industry, the advantages of prefabs, the authenticity of green architecture and where the boyfriend bought his watch. The boyfriend is massaging my shoulder as he talks with the grinner. He is drinking my drink, being all ‘mi casa y su casa’, possessing. I sneak off to my room and bring a whole bottle of Sauvignon, the cheap kind, of course. In a few minutes, he will look for me, so I drink swiftly. The taste is tart and does not fulfill. I drink it anyway, feeling a ripple of sedateness wash over me. The haze is a tempting escape. And like a machine, I nibble apples, halves and halves and halves until I can imagine they form a whole in my stomach. I speak to the walls, ask them how they feel about the cutting off of half of their system. They tell me, ‘I’m going to be interviewed on Oprah in a wheelchair. She’s going to give me a trust fund. She’s going to repair my face. She is-‘ I pass out without hearing the last part but I continue to dream about the house on stilts like a paraplegic in the limelight.

 I am startled awake by my own consciousness. I am glad that I’ve drunk myself to sleep, thinking I finally have an excuse not to look happy this morning. ‘I can’t smile. I have a hangover.’ I rehearse in my head in case people would ask me. But I skip the proverbial Black and dark sunglasses which seemed too dramatic and wear a yellow flowing dress instead. The boyfriend spots me amidst the crowd gathering at the front, mostly a collection of my relatives and some neighbors who are secretly happy they’ve found another visual affirmation of how better they are than everyone else.

 ‘You look good today.’ The boyfriend makes a point to tell me but I barely hear him. I just noticed my dress matches the moulds on our rooftop. He moves away and joins his colleagues who are in a separate circle. I don’t know why there’s a groundbreaking ceremony in the first place when this is too small a project to be given a ceremony but I suspect the boyfriend probably requested it as a personal favor to him. We all look at him, waiting for the signal. Waiting. He gives a slight nod.

I look at the house as a whole for one last time. I bid goodbye to the part I lost, and remember the times when I felt an overwhelming sense to be anywhere but here. Anywhere but here. I try to conjure that feeling again now. The workers start to come in by the dozens and they work on the garage’s foundation with their pickaxes. There is a loud bang that follows but I’m confused whether it’s on the ground or or on my chest. Shrapnel fly to every direction including my eyes. I look away, just in time to feel my boyfriend’s inquiring gaze try to capture mine. I’m not as transient as I thought after all.


  1. I love this, Chelle. And, at the same time, feeling morose about the change.. but it's a good change, isn't it?

    For Little Portia. For the better.

  2. Piks, is this you? Why are you calling me "Chelle" all of a sudden? :)

    Change is always good, I think. There is no better ability than the ability to transition smoothly. :)