December 24, 2011

Fleeting Clouds in The Night


Fleeting Clouds

San Beda might have been somewhere in my past memory if only memories were so affirmatively credible every time. The minute I went there, I thought I had known just how those gothic buildings would have looked like; as if I had previously walked those high-ceilinged halls before, where my shoes would click and clack like horses' hooves. I felt a little de ja vu as I roamed those halls with their handsomely checkered floors. I must have loved temples and mansions in my past life.

So much of the past was in my mind.

I burned candles for nearly four months in order to refresh my grasp of those mountains and mountains of law books, as if I had any grasp at all. I rented a room less than a kilometer away from San Beda and for most of my stay in Manila; I must have walked the length between the law school and the boarding house a million times over.

I felt comfortable the minute I stepped into my boarding school. My room was overlooking the busy street of Legarda while facing the northern sky.

At night, I sat in near the window and watch the motorcars speed through the street below. I relaxed my tired mind by listening to my Walkman, letting my consciousness slip slowly into sleepiness.

As I gazed towards the night sky, a very bright star near the sky summit always took my attention. Every night, I could see that star at the places it usually appears, treading the same path in the sky consistently. I had realized then that navigation thru the guidance of those heavenly bodies could be so accurate that even in the ancient times, men find faraway places by merely staring at the night sky.

It is one those nights typical in Manila, windy and wet. The clouds would move easily that they have patent fragility. The clouds were too dynamic that I indicted Manila to be a place of queer weather. I thought that back in Zamboanga, the clouds never moved like this. I pitied the Manila indeed, always struggling against typhoons and hurricanes. A city with the burden of being the capital of a nation and at the same time bugged with hellish winds.

One night, the movement of the clouds started to move so queerly that I decided that was not the weather anymore. The thin clouds would seem to break out, then close in again. Sooner, I thought I saw the shape of a man. Then there were the winged horses. Then there appeared also a shapely woman in white gown.

I retreated back to my room thinking my mind merely needed rest. Too much reading may have affected my visions that I started seeing things.

Inside my room, I sat in front of my study table and proceeded to read. My head started to move independently, sideways then all around, until it got plastered facing the wall. I could see shadows and then figures began to move. The shape of a boat took shape and at both ends were two little beings that looked like the form of aliens usually depicted in movies, hairless heads and thin body structures. Again I questioned my senses and proceed to the living room and gasped for air. I started to worry then about my sanity. In my past readings, seeing things is a symptom of schizophrenia. This may be it, I thought. I was already losing my mind.

I recollected myself and began to calculate my entire person. How does an insane man think and behave. Am I of the unusual behavior? I had also asked myself. Do I talk senselessly? Am I still able to acquaint with the usual people I know?

After such inquiry, I concluded so determinedly that indeed, there is no marked changes in the way I behaved and relate with others. I am still able to have the common notions and senses. If I were not insane, then only one thing was deductible—the visions is a reality that I must accept. I tucked my thoughts through a deep sleep, hoping somehow that whatever defect of mind that bothers or would be bothering me would soon go away.

And yet, the night after, I looked at the sky again and the clouds behaved as usual—so fleeting and fragile—and the bright star that I have mentioned earlier shone the brighter than the night ago.

When the clouds began to form figures again, I did not retreat anymore to my room and instead tolerated what was then to me was a huge stage show in the night sky.

As I trained my sight so carefully, in the middle of the sky appeared a figure of a person with wings extending towards its sides. It was an angel, as we know them through stories and movies, cloth in a long white garment and wings so white that it almost shone. Such image stayed there for a long time that it had seemed that it had merely served a center point of the entire visions. At the farther left of the sky, I saw clouds in the shape of a ship of the ancient form, with huge mast and sails, voyaging towards the eastern side of the sky until it faded as the clouds soon disintegrated into thin parcels of smoke. Then I saw the figure of a man, also sailing by from the left of the sky heading to the right. Despite the distance, I could see that the he looked like a Chinese man with a headgear, and he was smiling. If Genghis khan were photographed before he died, the man would have resembled him. That was the thought that immediately came into my mind.

I returned my attention towards the middle and there were the winged horses trotting the center of the sky, in circling motions, so steadfast and so gallantly.

Those were my initial visions.

The night after, the visions became more lucid that the angel in the middle of the sky showed me a dance that was somehow familiar and yet altogether unique.

The angel spread its wings again and again and I just stared. This particular vision was so clear that some tears flowed from my eyes as I realized that the visions had already transgressed the bounds of reality, as I know it then. I became so concern that one of my companion in the boarding house might come and find me in such unusual condition—staring vehemently at the sky while my eyes were wet with tears. One of them, Alexis, was just nearby at that particular moment, reading in the living room just outside my room. In later times, I had felt the notion to tell Alexis about the vision since he was the closest to me--sharing the room I had-- but most of me relented because again, that would only propel the suspicion of insanity. In the mind-numbing mad rush towards the bar examination, many had lost their minds in the past.

So I just stared at the angel and marveled at the sight. I could feel a little rising in my emotions and a general feeling of gratefulness.

The angel kept on spreading its wings, again and again; that I thought it wanted me to follow such movement. My head nodded independently. I took this as an instruction so I spread my arms while being so wary that some of my mates would suddenly come in towards my direction and deduce insanity.

Then the angel's arms showed as apart from its wide wings. It swayed its arms towards the right side of its body in a circling motion and I followed it. Then its arms went back to the middle of its chest, while its palms were open, and then I followed suit. The arms swayed to the left of its side, and I also followed suit. After a while, the Angel moved its arms in circling motions that were so complicated that I was not able to follow it as it slowly faded away.

That part of the vision was the mesmerizing of all for it was the one that exhibited a lot of movements that naturally ordinary clouds could not do. This is perhaps more coherent than the vision of a bearded man sitting on the throne. About the bearded man, I saw a huge throne and the man sitting on it. If my notions were not wrong, I reckoned it looked like Jesus Christ in clean white raiment. But this vision was static compared to the dancing angel where there was dynamism of mobility that had clearly erased whatever doubts I had of the phenomenon.

The morning after, while still embraced the foggy streets of Manila, I recreated the dance I had witnessed the night before. I planted my feet in a fairly wide position and swayed my hands from left to right, just like the angels did. I did the routines as far as my memory could serve me right. Then after a while, my hands started to move by themselves that on its own it had seemed, my hands repeated the complicated movements that the angel made, the ones that I was not able to follow well the night before.

The dance drew some lightness of being inside me that it felt good always to recreate them. It was sort of habit forming, an addictive action. There was such lightness of being that I felt floating above air when I walked. I felt my hands and I could feel some force in it, a trapped wind beneath my palms that whenever I held my hands against a surface, I could feel a palpable force underneath, a kind of a magnetic force. And my body started to move queerly at times, a sort of an independent force was controlling my movement and from my mouth the sound of a bird's chirping came out too often. I would sway to one side and to another without intending to move. I would walk into directions that I never intended to head.

There was a visible smirk on my face whenever I walked the streets or the hallways of San Beda. The phenomenon of angels had given me such giddiness that humored my mind to no end. How could such things happen? I asked and meandered upon myself and why of all people it had happened to me? I must be the "chosen one" I was tempted to deduce. For what purpose that I was chosen was not yet apparent to me at that time.

The review for the law examinations had gotten more intense. By the end of July, all the students were priming up for the big month, which was September.

I had been tenacious with my reading in order to recompense for the poor quality of my law foundations, the result of boredom and frequent inattentiveness at school during my college years. As September approached, I even forgot to eat at times.

The "night calls" of the angels somehow tempered the rigidity of readings. And because of the queerness of my body movements, I felt so strongly that I gained the attention of many. They were good attentions although I could feel some look that decided that I had gone haywire in the head. Most of the attentions however were of the inquisitive kind; the way one looks upon an exploding mystery. In the library, when I thought no one was looking my way, I would sway my hands to recreate the dance of the angel. The dance always relieved me of stress, especially when my readings became so ardent and straining. Obviously, some of the students noticed me that some of my acquaintance started to inquire about the strange movements I made with my hands. I felt embarrassed by the inquiries so I had no recourse but to explain it. I could not explain it to them as factual as possible for I felt it would be too much for them to accept and then it would only lead them to the belief that my mind had already succumbed to the pressure of the bar preparations. So I put up a comfortable lie. I told them that I was a practitioner of a Chinese form of meditation and I sway my hands in order to relieve me of stress.

My comfortable lie might have been convincing that instead of shying away from me, most of my acquaintance became interested in the movements of my hands. They wanted me to teach it to them. I said I had no luxury of time to become their Chinese meditation master. They liked it many condescended because of the harmony and synchronicity of my palms swaying thru and fro.

Some threw me a disconcerted look. Some stares were stained with disparagement. And then there were those with amazement in their eyes.

I seemed to be easily get blown by the wind that I had to readjust the angle of my footing or walk in order to evade the whipping of heavy breeze. When I stood still, some force was tugging me towards some direction that perhaps many observed it so keenly and decided fairly that I was not just making them up.

The inquiries about my condition had become more prevalent but still, I had not yet gained the proper mindset to divulge the truth about my visions as the cause of these strange movements. I continue to hide under the lie of a Chinese meditation. Perhaps, my lie was somehow weak in some point, there were gossips going around that I was really going haywire in the head. The talk spread like wild fire that it had reached my hometown of Zamboanga. Apparently, one of the barristers preparing for the examinations was my town mate. I did not know her so much because she was from the lower years though her face was familiar to me. I received messages in my cell phone from friends back in Zamboanga, advising me to slow down and take some breather. I felt disturbed by the gossips running around in San Beda and as far as back home. But I easily set it aside for I felt that someday they would know the truth about all these matters.

Excerpts from my unfinished semi-autobiography "A Prophet's Life"

Tuba