March 24, 2005

THE POND

One night in 2001, some months after my last job in the government was terminated, I was stuck in bed gazing at the ceiling and was in deep thought on what to do then with my life. I had a job offer from a friend but the pay was way too low compared with my last paycheck that I much rather tried some other options then, like taking the bar examinations the following year. It was hard turning down that job offer especially when the offer came from someone I knew too well. What if he had needed my services that badly? But then, I had a future to take care of and so I had to inform him quite honestly that I was preparing for the bar that summer and it wouldn’t be in my best interest to have my hands full on an accounting/marketing job. I had to take some risk I had decided then and go for the farsighted plan that could offer me probable long-term benefits than be stuck with a dead-end job.

Perhaps it was too much of youthful diffidence in me that at some nights I had shivered just thinking how the realities of existence is not what many of us had supposed to be when we were much younger, that the world is at times a dog-eat-dog existence where one must claw up the ladder just about every time, even to the point of elbowing others and stepping on their shoes just in order to find a semblance of meaningful existence.

That particular night, the weather was so warm that even when the electric fan hummed at its fullest, I had perspired so monstrously that I could almost hear my sweat dripping from my skin. Drip…drip…drip…I turned on my stereo and listened to an aria of Andrea Bocelli and the coolness of his voice made me feel a little better. Conte le partira, Paesi che non ho mai…Vel dutto ver sutto conti….Conte le partira…

And then I fell into a sleep that wasn’t like sleep at all for it felt so much like I have just glided from one dimension of existence to another. Unbelievable as it may seem and yet those who believe in parallel existence may just sympathize with me on this. Perhaps you’d start to think that I have become so much of an inexhaustible dreamer that I started to live more of my life in dreams than in the real world. I won’t blame you for that for sometimes I feel that way already.

In that dream, I found myself suddenly bursting into a barren landscape where the ground was red all over and the air was smoky as yellow smog floated like grimes on the atmosphere. I gazed around and I could see a nearby hill gradually rose from the ground and I could see wide plains and gray mountains from afar. The sky was red, like a bleeding wall to my sight. I could see no bushes or any form of greeneries around and if you’d seen some photographs of Mars, then you might have the best of idea of how the place appeared to be. The air was so still that I could hear no sound whatsoever that every step I made I could clearly hear. I felt my feet a little harassed by the crackling ground below me, those plates of mud solidified by too much dryness. I decided to walk further until I reach a point where the smog cleared and in a sudden I saw a small pond just in front of me, with a leafless tree standing along its shoreline. The tree reminded me of the guava tree that I used to climb when I was a child. I could remember that guava tree only too well because I had fallen from it twice before and it was there that I saw a strange creature of the night, a huge manlike being with the head of a horse, with some burning object flickering from its mouth, perhaps a giant cigar, just like what our elders had always said about kapres.

I stared into the pond and saw that the water was a familiar blend of yellow and green, like dew, and it was so calm that its surface didn’t moved at all. That was how I reckoned that it was a very deep pond by just looking at it. Shallower waters are always fragile to the eyes.

The water in the pond looked so inviting and it seemed to have spoken to me like it had a life of its own. I went to my knees and smelled the water. The scent that it evoked gave me a mild exhilaration of emotions that it became all the more tempting for me to dive into the water. I touched the water again and a small amount of it in my hands was enough to quench the waterlessness of my body. Still, I was hesitant to go into the water as its depth intimidated me so much and I wasn’t a good swimmer. Suddenly I heard some rustling noise behind me and I immediately turned to look at the direction of the sound. As the smog cleared, a women in a white gown appeared and she initially smiled at me. It was a little unusual that I never felt any kind of fear the very moment that I saw that floating woman even though as I write this particular passage, I have goosebumps all over me. I stared at her and wondered what’s the purpose of her calling me into this dream. I wanted to ask her why she wanted to meet me but spoke nothing instead. In that dream, I did not remember uttering any words; in fact not a single word was spoken by anyone in that dream. I really had initially felt that it was the woman who had called me to that dream and that she had some important message for me.

I wanted to express so many things to the woman hovering just in front of me but I struggled to mumble even a single word. After a while, the woman stared at me so intently and it was a little strange for me to realize that she could actually speak to me by just merely looking at me. And slowly I had also realized that I could get all my thoughts across to her even without uttering any word. She told me through mind talk that there was something that I should know and some person had called me into the dream and not her. Then she moved slowly towards me but as I thought that she was coming closer to me, she actually went farther and farther from me until she disappeared from my view. It was a completely spellbinding distortion of distance and space.

Then my gaze was turned towards the nearby hill that I had mentioned earlier and there appeared another person that was also in white gown, just like the woman had worn. I thought at first that the woman and the person floating above the hill was one and the same person but as I examined more carefully, the person on the top of the hill was actually an old man with a white flowing hair that was too long; too long in fact that I had mistaken him for a woman in a glance. He had the face of a very old man and to tell you quite honestly, the old man looked like Leonardo da Vinci, the one most of us had seen in many self-portraits of the legendary Italian artist.

The old man caught my eye and without saying a word, he ordered me to dive into the water. I hesitated at first but the old man was too insistent that he kept on pointing towards the pond. Again, it was sort of a distortion of space and distance that despite of the distance of the hill from where I stood, I could see the old man quite so clearly like he was just nearby.

As if the old man had suddenly gained control of my body and mind---even from a distance---I slowly took steps towards the tree and climb it, this despite my clear wavering. My climb was swift like I was a trained scaler of trees. As a child, many of my playmates teasingly dubbed me as “Monkey!” for I had always loved climbing trees when afternoon came. On a period of the day when most kids in the neighborhood took their catnaps, I go play by my lonesome instead and climb trees. My favorite tree to climb then was the Datiles beside a small fishpond that bore so many ripe fruit that I picked and gobbled in my mouth. I have grown to like the sweet nectar coming from the Datiles fruit. The guava tree on the one hand does not bore any fruit that we kids rarely climbed it. There was also a Chico tree about five thousand feet farther from the Datiles and it is where most of us kids love to climb the most and where we play catch-me-if-you-can games atop that huge tree, would you believe. It was so dangerous to play games while hanging on branches because a simple mistake or a broken branch would surely send the unfortunate kid plummeting down to the hard ground. It was so risky but as kids, we did not realize that.

Let’s go back to the dream. And so I was finally atop the leafless tree looking downward to the small but deep pond below me. I had gained enough balance on top of it that I virtually stood upright like I was standing on a diving platform. The height of the tree was a little mesmerizing to me, about the same height of a two-story house and this had made me more hesitant of jumping into the water. The particular inhibition I felt when I was atop the leafless tree always gets back to me as a familiar memory every time I was in the same circumstances in the real world, even when I was still a child. This dream of the pond happened only about four years ago but some scenes in that dream came to me as a form of déjà vu even when I was still so young and fond of bathing in many rivers and oceans that are found in Zamboanga. Perhaps just like any locality in the Philippines, Zamboanga has just too many places where one could enjoy the water, from the beaches in Cawa-Cawa (its so polluted now that bathing there is prohibited) to the gushing riverways in Pasonanca, far deep into the forest. It’s sort of a strange distortion of time and space when the scenes in a more recent dream came as déjà vu in my childhood days.

It took me some moments in deciding whether to finally jump into the water or not; until that final moment I held my breath so steadily and immediately dived into the water. I felt those moments while I was on the air, as if in a slow motion, as my body plunged right into the water. I felt those feeling of free falling again, like falling from cliffs and beds in my other childhood dreams. Finally, I hit the water and heard the water splashing just as I was entering it. I found myself inside the pond looking upward to the surface. Above me I could see a ray of light while down below was complete darkness. The water was so cool to my body that I felt a sudden elation and regretted for a while why It took me a while to decide to jump into the water. I felt a general happy feeling, an indescribable feeling that made me forget all those previous fears and hesitations I had earlier. The water was solid and thick like it wasn’t any ordinary water at all and I could feel them strongly on my skin. I did not sway my arms or shuffle my feet in order to stifle my fall into the pond for mostly, I had enjoyed being inside the water that as I fell deeper, while I just let my body gradually settle into its depth, the more feeling of elation I had felt. My body went deeper and deeper into the pond and I did not fight my fall even though there was some moment that I realized that the pond may be a bottomless pit that even while I was getting deeper and deeper into it, I could see nor feel any ground below it. Worry started to descend upon me when I could not still see the bottom of the pond. I started to panic but before panic had taken hold of me, I felt some hands grabbing my shoulders and suddenly I saw two persons pulling at me and steering me towards the surface of the water. The three of us swiftly returned to the surface of the water and once I came out from it, I paddled my legs so furiously to stay afloat and see for myself who were the two persons that pulled me out of the water. The two led me to the shore and I climb towards a drier area and stared back into the pond. I examined the two men who remained afloat in the pond as I realized how strong they were for they had pulled me out of the water in such a swift manner; they must have been learned swimmers. They remained afloat the water and yet I could not see them move their hands or feet. It was a cunning way to swim I thought then and I concluded that they were not just ordinary swimmers, but extraordinary ones. I gazed at the faces of the two men in the pond and then I started to realize that they both looked alike and that they may as well be twins and that they both looked like me although they had longer and much muscular body. I mistrusted them for a while for they seem to be mocking me by pretending to look like me and my distrust had become more emphasized when the two men maintained stern faces all throughout, like they were soldiers, like it was illegal for them to smile or show a gentler countenance. I turned my gaze towards the hill and wanted to ask the old man what was going on and I saw him still hovering and his white dress flowing steadily from a passing wind that I did not feel or see, as my immediate surroundings remained so very still and not a single sound could be heard.

The old man stared at me so meaningfully and then I could see how he had the gentlest of faces, one that evoked great love and adoration that I immediately felt assured that he won’t lead me to any harm or injury. He had seemed to be so fatherly and I could feel his great warmth even from a distance. He signaled with his hands to me once more and urged me to dive into the water. This time, my earlier hesitation and uncertainties had already vanished and I climbed the tree with great confidence. I dived once more into the water. I heard the water made the splashing sound again, a noise that was refreshing to my ears and once again, I felt the elation that remained indescribable; a certain feeling of sudden joy, like a narcotic perhaps if one could actually know how this element works.

I floated again inside the water and all around me was the thick yellowish-green hue of the pond and I could see no walls nor bottom but the water was clearly refreshing and my soul was lifted again. I still did not fight the gravitational pull of the bottom of the pond, which actually appeared to be without end, as if it goes on and on until forever. I had wondered what the bottom of the pond looked like and what it had to offer me. Maybe there was a lost kingdom down there or a secret hideaway that could give me more joy and elation. The feeling of elation was so addictive that I wanted to go deeper and deeper but the two men who looked like me appeared again in the scene and pulled me out of the water. This time, they did not have to grab me as I rose with them towards the surface of the water and I had risen on my own accord---they just had to notify me this time that I was already getting too deep into the water. I remade and remade my dive into the pond and clearly I had grown ponder of it all the more that with every splashing of the water---as I break into them by a nose dive---the feeling of elation gets more and more emphasized. The last time I went into the depth of the pond, the two men did not have to grab me anymore for I have already decided on my own to rise to the surface of the water when I had reckoned on my own that I was already so deep into the pond. I was left alone the moment I finally gained enough discipline and patience not to go too deep into the water.

The last scene of this particular dream was me standing on the edge of the pond and watching the old man swaying his arms to and fro, from east to west, from north to south, like he was dancing some sort of an exotic dance that was completely unique and never heard of. It was a ceremonial dance it had seemed. As he swayed his arms from side to side, the wind move more dynamically and the yellowish tint of the atmosphere vanished gradually but swiftly and became clear like the atmosphere that we have now. And clouds in the horizon suddenly appeared and moved like there was a swirling storm until they settled over the hills and mountains. The old man was apparently controlling the weather and he was making the environment more and more pleasant to the sight. The brown hills became green and grasses and bushes started to grow from the ground until all around me was thick with lush greeneries and there was a forest just nearby. Then the sky became blue from its former hazy shade of red and I could see winged creatures gliding through it and everything became brighter and sunnier.

That is why I have said once before that when I saw an angel dance in the Manila sky in the year 2002, while I was there preparing for the bar examinations, the dance of the angel was so familiar to me like I have seen them once before. Now I can now point only too well that it was in the dream of the pond that I had seen the dance first. Nights after I saw that dancing angel in the sky, I was alone in the boarding house where I stayed in Manila (the boarding house was named BH Boarding House, a former office building that was turned into a students’ lodge, and it is just right beside a catholic center named after St. Lorenzo along Legarda St. in Sampaloc, Manila) as the other occupants went for a weekend getaway. It was nearly midnight and I was still awake reading law books. I felt the urge to drink some coffee so I went to the kitchen to prepare hot water. As I entered my room, I felt that someone was following me and I turned immediately to examine my back and for a split second, I saw the image of the old man hanging just above the air, right at my back and he looked so much like the old man in one of my dreams, which is this dream of the pond, and no matter how I saw that apparition, the old man looked like Leonardo da Vinci with a very long white hair, sharp noses and a very old face. I should have scurried away out of fear of the apparition but it was strange that I had felt no fear whatsoever in that particular moment. It was a span of days in my life that angels started to appear in my view, whenever I stared at the night sky and shadows on the wall and a bearded man on a huge throne that perhaps, the sight of the old man hovering just above me was not that surprising to me anymore, that I just disregarded it and proceeded to read my law books that night.


In the morning right after I had dreamt of the pond, I immediately went to search for a pen and paper so that I could write down the details of this vivid dream. At that time, I hadn’t still an inkling that I would be seeing angels in the future but I had felt so strongly then that the dream was too real for comfort like it was a story by itself, complete with plot and characters. I had in fact written down the details of that dream that morning and even typed it in several coupon bonds in order that I may be able to keep and preserved it. The way I wrote down the tale of the dream was in the form of a short story that in fact when I finished writing it, I had mailed a copy of it to the popular magazine Free Press hoping that it would be published as a literary piece. But after waiting and watching out for over one-too-many many issues, I have given up expecting that it would be published. Maybe, if one has connections in the Free Press organization, you could confirm the veracity of my story by looking for that submitted piece titled “The Pond” which I sent through mail in 2001. I lost the only copy of that written narrative about that pond and so I have to reconstitute it this way, remembering the details even without any aid of past writings, and completely writing from spontaneous memory.

What did the dream meant to me? Perhaps you might ask this question. For me, it was a dream that foretold to me so eerily of the things that I have to encounter in the future and how every dream of mine has a certain singular thread in them that every one of it evokes important messages to me and to humanity as a whole. I’d elaborate more in the coming entries about these messages because this entry has gotten too long and long entries often go unread. So I hope you’d be watching out for my next entries.

March 15, 2005

THE ALLIGATOR RIVER

I didn’t know what the dream meant exactly and what it tried to convey to me. My dream last night was as surreal as the paintings of Picasso, full of abstract images, those surprising angles and unexpected curves. Wait, I may be speaking to soon. I think there’s a clear story in that dream of mine and I can remember too well how the story in that dream went. I may be able to relate to you that story, if only you’d be patient enough with my narration, which at times struggles for the right words to use.

At the beginning of that dream, I was walking through a dark alley, along an unpaved road and muddied ground where banana trees and huge plants lined the passageway. I knew immediately that I was in some faraway barrio when I could not see any electric post that usually decorates every urban street. At the start of the dream, the afternoon was becoming darker and darker but it wasn’t so dark yet like nighttime but a shade of darkness whenever twilight is fast nearing its end. I went on walking as my surrounding became darker and darker and all I could hear was deep silence and the crooning of crickets in the foreground; the gentle slap of the wind against the bushes along the road reminded me that the weather was a little hazy then. I was completely alone and the dimness had stirred some fear in me that I started to take hurried steps, as my feet felt the stony hard ground below. After some brisk walking, I finally reached a wooden house with bamboo fences and for some reason; I knocked on the sliding wooden door. The house was of fair size and a little bit aged, the sort of dwelling place many wealthier farmers have in the barrios.

A middle-aged man wearing no shirt on him came to meet me and opened the door. He threw a squinting look at me as if he knew that I was arriving at exactly the time that he went to open the door and that he had indeed expected me to come. “She is not here,” the man said while he held a plow in one of his soiled hands. Apparently in the dream, I was looking for a certain woman.

“It couldn’t be,” I told the man. “She should be here”.

“You are wasting your time,” the man retorted although his tone was not at all dire but a little welcoming, as if to console me for not meeting the person I was looking for. “Better yet, you just have to buy this,” the man continued as he handed me a small plastic package that contains some matter that I have no knowledge of. I examined the object that the man tried to sell to me and I said I am not interested in them and I do not have any use for it. The man said “Come on. Buy it and I’ll tell you where she is,” the man insisted as I could see his face frown from the initial setback of his sales pitch. That seems to be a good deal I had reckoned then because I had the feeling that I would even give away my house just to see that woman. Before I could ask how much the plastic object was, I saw the woman appeared through the main door of the wooden house and I was jolted suddenly. Perhaps she had noticed me so she hurried towards the back of the house by passing through a narrow passageway. All I saw was her back and her long black hair bobbing up and down as I tried to run after her. When I reached the back of the house, she wasn’t there anymore. The house was actually standing beside a flowing river with water that was brown as mud.

“She just took the boat with the boy,” the man with the plow informed me and I was a little infuriated at him for not telling me the truth of her being in the house all along.

“Who was the boy that went with him?” I asked.

“He is one among many of her companions,” the man said. “She needs more companion nowadays. At times she had three and at some other time she had seven. Nobody knows exactly but there is no moment that she is alone.”

“How can I reach her?” I asked the man again almost shouting at him.

“You have to ride the boat of course,” the man said in a hushed tone, like he was a murderer running away from his captors.

“How much for a boat,” I pleaded to him and I could feel that time was running out on me and that she might go farther and farther away that I wouldn’t be able to reach her.

“You do not have to pay,” said the man with a crazy grin now pasted on her oily dark skin. He had narrow eyes like he was a Chinese man but his skin is dark as the soil we see on the ground. He continued, “I’ll give you the boat if you agree to swim in that river”. And he pointed towards the area of the river where the water was deeper and the flow of water was continuously moving in a circling motion. As I watch the water more closely, I noticed that alligators started to appear one by one until they dotted the river to the hilt.

Since I was so desperate to find that woman, I agreed to dive into the river and the man brought out a wooden raft from where I would be jumping off. I took a very long pole and started to paddle the raft into the middle of the river. When I reached the point where the water was at its deepest, I closed my eyes and jumped into the river while some people appeared out of nowhere in order to watch me swim in that alligator-infested waters. To my amazement, none of the alligators harmed me as they proceeded to swim away from me and I could even notice some that were biting and wrestling at each other instead of going after me. I felt the coolness of the waters and as I rose from it, I felt so refreshed and invigorated like a newborn child. The middle-aged man offered me a white towel and I hurriedly dried myself. The man said, “The alligators have accepted you as a kindred soul and so therefore, you will gain now the boat that will bring you to her.” I was a little ecstatic but as I tried to board the boat, my wife suddenly appeared in that dream and called upon me. She said to me: “Do not go after that woman! There might be danger. Don’t go now! The waters have dangers!” My wife repeatedly shouted at me and I called back at her and told her in a loud voice as the boat was slowly heading towards the deeper area of the waters, that: “It is in the dream! I have to go after her! The dream said I must find her! I’ll come back soon!”

The wooden boat that the man gave me to ride upon was so large that there were wide spaces between the navigator and me. It was a motorized banca and as we threaded through the snaking contours of the river, I could hear almost nothing except the sound of the motor and the heavy silence of the forest that lies at both side of the flowing river. As we floated along, I could feel the warm breeze hitting my face as I briefly reexamined the journey I had taken just in order to find her. Was it worth it? Is she worth fighting and struggling for? What form of malady that had ensconced upon me that she had taken a clamping hold on my person; a hold so tight that I could not flee from it. Down below, I could feel the river breathing and heaving like a giant monster, carrying me through it while my mind was heavy with worry and anxiety.

The motor of the banca hummed steadily and the humming sound had calmed my early worries and I was almost lulled to sleep. Farther down the river, I soon notice from afar a cornucopia of wooden houses and the navigator said that it was the place where we were heading for. We reached the place and many had come to meet us as if once more, they knew that was I coming at exactly the right time. There was a commotion when finally I asked in a loud voice “Where is she?!!!”. Nobody answered my query but everyone was pointing at each other. I started to plead to them one by one until someone presented to me a woman whom at first I thought was the woman that I was looking for. I examined her features slowly, from head to foot, touching her hair and viewing in close range the color of the irises of her eyes. I said to them, “This is not her. This woman is an impostor! I want to see her!” Someone insisted that the woman they presented to me was really the woman I have come looking for. I stomped my feet and there was even more commotions and everyone seemed to be afraid of me and scurried towards different direction.

Finally, a group of men appeared through a wide entrance and one of them was holding a woman by the arms. My heart stopped a bit and a sudden gush of excitement came into me. I tried to meet the group of men headway but they started to turn away. “I wanted to see her,” I said to them as they tried to get away from me. I insisted in following them and they stopped suddenly, including the woman that they were clutching by the arms. As she turned around, I finally saw her face, a face that I could not forget even for a second and never had forgotten even for a single moment in the past. I had known her so well, even the contours of her face, all the angles right to the minutest of details, the very cleavage of her chin and the very shade of her teeth; even though the last time I saw her was three years ago. Tears flowed from my eyes, tears that came perhaps from so much joy upon seeing her for the first time after a very long while. But later I am to be tearful for the cause of sadness and desperation.

I said to the woman: “You have to go with me. Come with me now.”

The woman shook her head and started crying also and told me that she could not come with me. “You have to come back later,” the woman kept on telling me. “Go away now” she continued. “I could not go with you right now”.

I said “You have to come with me now for there may be no next time for us”. I pleaded to her again and again until the dream was starting to fade away. I was so aware that the dream was fading away as I was being slowly siphoned off into some form of darkness. The dream went away while I was shouting at her, pleading again and again for her to come with me. “Come with me!” were my last words to her as I saw her gradually fading away from me and then I saw her face for the very last time in that dream; ever beautiful and gentle, like a calm sea under a bleeding moon, the way that I had always remembered her.
I woke up suddenly and then soon I realized that I just had a vivid dream once more. I felt some immediate sadness upon waking up for the dream had some kind of an unfinished and gloomy ending. I wanted the dream to continue and so I tried my best to gain sleep but sleep would not come anymore. I went down and prepared myself some black tea and sipped the hot condiment beside the window and I saw the stars in the night and wondered if they are so far away that no man could ever reach them, and wondered out loud if ever I’d be seeing her again.

March 07, 2005

OF DEATH AND DYING

There was once a particular childhood experience that I have already narrated in my autobiography “A Prophet’s Life” which I intend now to present once more, in a different light perhaps, or in a more elaborate manner. In the past nights, I have been somewhat grasping for topics to jot into this online diary, but inspiration had become farthest to me and I was at a lost on what to inscribe into paper or to be particular, into my computer screen. This must be known to many as a writer’s block, a kind of informal malady of the mind where nothing seems to come out from the writer’s thought mechanism.

I have not believed before in any of the crap they say about a writer’s mind being blocked. But now, I have felt its cruel hands on me. Grasping and feeling like I was in the dark, like into a room without a door and nothing seem to appear except walls and walls of emptiness. Finally now, I have found the door and an idea comes to me blinking like a light bulb.

Death is darkness all over as one falls asleep into the deepest of slumber and what a slumber it was then. Sleep came slowly and had descended on me like a holy dove from the sky. It was a beautiful feeling altogether although I know very well that to many amongst you, death is most terrifying idea of all. It also terrifies me, let me be clear on that but this was how I died and lived again when I was a toddler.

How could I remember such happenstance so far into my past? You might ask this question of course and I am sure whatever explanation I offer, I might come as entirely doubtful. I could anticipate that clearly but this is what really happened.

I was living then with my grandfather Unih when my parents felt so unable to take care of many broods when my other two siblings were finally born that they had to let me stay with grandpa. This was always the reason given to me for being away from my father and mother most of my childhood days but I sense now that the ultimate reason would be the great fondness my grandpa had then on me.

One afternoon, when the weather was dark and cloudy and everything seemed heavy and silent, I was caught by a very high fever and I struggled with it as my head felt the enormous heat that troubled me so much. I could remember fully well how that heat was so unusual for it burnt me like no other and my skin was throbbing and my body was covered with too much perspiration all over. I laid there in bed as my eyes were stuck to viewing the ceiling, so astonished at the peculiar sensation that I was experiencing. My eyes were wide open and I could see quite clearly how my grandfather was so distraught then looking after me, coming in and out of the room, and walking back and forth, washing my head with a wet cloth and then saying prayers above me over and over again, as he held a candle. As the hours went by, other members of the household appeared within my view, trying perhaps to assist my grandpa in battling the high fever that troubled me then. My uncle kept on saying something to my grandpa but I could not remember what were those things. All throughout, I could see the very worried face of my grandpa and to tell you quite clearly, after that incident, I have not seen him as worried as that day, not even for once.

Soon, more and more faces appeared in the scene as neighbors from just next-door started to surface. Somebody suggested that I was to be brought to the main living room of the apartment, in order that I get more ventilation. As my grandpa carried me, I suddenly lost consciousness although it was peculiar that in the darkness of my consciousness, I felt how it was so pleasant and refreshing to be carried in a man’s arm, like I was floating above ground. The next images I had was like in a dream, although it could not have been a dream for the occurrence was so lifelike and real that I could not be mistaken.

I found myself in darkness like in a cavern without daylight coming in. Then I heard some rumbling sounds around me like thunder when suddenly my body was lunged upward and the velocity was so high that I soared like a rocket. This feeling of being lunge into the heights always comes back as a sort of déjà vu whenever I ride carnival contraptions like a Ferris wheel or the caterpillar. It felt like I was a human bullet fired from very huge cannon. As I soared steadily through the tunnel, a light from above came nearer and nearer until I exploded into the clouds and my body floated like a balloon in the great wide-open sky. I was so surprised to see myself among the clouds and I felt so alone as I could see nothing except columns and columns of clouds. Yet despite this aloneness, a certain joy had enveloped me that I could not explain it quite so descriptively except that it was a feeling of an enormous high and happiness that tears flowed from my eyes. I felt like I was doused by a pail of icy water. In my ears was a beautiful sound, music that was so sublime. It came probably from a string instrument---a guitar or a banjo---but I could not point out from where it came, like it was above me and below me all at the same time.

I floated and floated until I was already flying through the clouds, the giant clouds seemingly like giant cliffs of the Grand Canyon, and the lower clouds looked like spreading hills and valleys.

As I was flying, I could see the ground below me and the trees and houses were too small to my eyes. Then I made an abrupt turn to the right side of the sky and found myself inside the clouds. The clouds were so white and often thin as smoke. From afar, these clouds look firm and solid, but when you are close by, they are fleeting just like the air we breathe.

One by one, the angels appeared and reappeared from somewhere from the clouds. One angel just popped out in front of me, smiling and gleeful like he was an old friend. And then he just disappeared, only to reappear somewhere farther. They seem to be playing around with me, like that in a hide and seek. That one angel that came so near me, I could remember so well. He had dark blond hair, not to yellow but a little darker and his skin were a little pale, like a shade of white. His wings fluttered like that of a giant bird and overall, he reminds me of David, the biblical king. You might ask if I had seen David before that I could say he reminded me of that angel. I do not know but every time King David comes into my mind, whenever for example I am reading passages from the bible, I always had a concept of how David probably looked like, blond, tall and body built with well-formed muscles that he might have had the perfect human body, the epitome of manhood.

When the angels refrained from appearing, my body floated towards a wide area where the clouds became more rare and harder to come by and then from afar, I saw some red images that caught my attention in a snap. I slowly approached the area where the image was. As the image came closer and closer, I could see that it was a white castle with red flags flowing from its pointed turrets. At that age, I have not yet learned how to read and haven’t yet seen any figure of castles from most fairy tale books that I eventually had when I was an older child. That was my first view of a castle.

Before I reached the place where the castle was, I suddenly woke up and realized that my body was laid on the table in the middle of the living room and my grandpa was staring at me while he was right above me. I could see the faces of my uncle and my aunt, as well as that of a mustachioed neighbor who had said to my grandpa “See, he is going to wake up as I told you”. I could see that my grandpa was perspiring and he was crying with tears flowing from his eyes. That was the only moment that I have seen him cry and not ever.

Until now, that particular memory is etched in my mind like it just happened yesterday. I could not forget it and I could not be mistaken. That was how I had a glimpse of the afterlife when I was a child of about three or four years old.

Tuba