MALIYA | Ground Zero (An excerpt)

My head is aching. I don’t know what to think. What to do. Just trapped inside this unknown feeling of nothingness—if there’s such a thing. Like feeling nothing because you can’t label what it is, so maybe the word “nothing” will do. And nothing sounds like a fool. A zero. A beginning or the one before it begins. And there are no stages or rules here. It’s a zero. Nothing. And perhaps to feel nothing is a gift. To care less about what’s happening. To worry less than usual, than how i used to. To become less crazier, to come from a point of nothingness. A point where something should click in before it could begin. Like waiting for an AHA moment or maybe there’s no such thing, and it’s okay. Coz I’m at my zero. Wait, what the hell am i thinking?

“Is there something wrong? Are you okay? You haven’t touched your breakfast and you kept on drawing a circle with your finger over and over again,” Mother said, while giving me a look that I couldn’t label.

But I’m used to it. She usually throw me lines of sarcasm everytime i get lost in my thoughts. Oh yea there’s the label, it’s sarcasm. I didn’t answer. I responded with a faint sigh and three sudden blinks.

She just ignored it.

I got up from my chair to grab a glass and poured water in it. I watched the cold water flow freely ‘til it’s half-full. My throat just needs something to wake it up, i guess, and water is a good idea. I sipped and drank it faster than usual. I don’t wanna hear more lines from her, let alone a word. But the speed of my drinking isn’t too swift enough. She said something and my heart skipped a beat. Yes i heard it, but i pretended that I didn’t.

“I said we’re leaving. We’re leaving this house and your father. I can’t go on living like this with that lunatic. Did you hear me, Maliya?”

A deafening silence filled the dining room.

“Are you listening to me? Or you’re lost in your world again? I can’t do this anymore, i can’t… i have tried. Too many times. I have given him chances. But no, he hasn’t changed…”

She kept on delivering her lines like the lead star on a television series who plays the victim for the most part and doesn’t really learn. Lines I’ve heard a few months back, a year ago, and the years before that. For Christ’s sake I’m nearly eighteen.

Her voice is now becoming a distant emergency alarm that echoes, and i still feel nothing. I’m still holding the empty glass in my right hand but my throat still couldn’t find the ease it needs to speak.

I need more water.

I turned around to get more water. And from behind i suddenly heard her burst out in tears. She was holding it in but she lost and now having an outpour of pain.

Now it’s clicking in. From nothing to something. Ground zero to a breakthrough. Or more like a breakout. I’m now feeling it. The screams from my insides that no one else could hear. And i hate that about me. I feel too much and I’m too soft for her. I love her very much that i hate her for it.

I turned back around and put down the glass on the table and gently held the back of her head to rest her face against the surface between my chest and my belly while she sits there, helpless, full of agony.

She cried even harder. I still haven’t spoken a word. My shirt is covered with her tears and her arms around my body embraced me tighter. My mother needs me.

I need more water. Or maybe not.

“I’m going to drop out and find a job. So we can start all over. You, me and Diwata.” I said. My voice didn’t crackle. Now is the perfect time to save her. And i hope this time she has learned her lesson. Otherwise, i might go insane.

“No. You’re going to be a Lawyer, honey. You can’t drop out just like that.” Mother insisted as she released from her dramatic embrace and looked at me with a surprise on her wet face.

“You know i hate school, Ma. It’s always just tasks to finish and projects to accomplish, and I don’t even enjoy it. I’m almost eighteen and i can start working. I know someone who could help me find a job.” I replied, with a tone of i-dont-take-no-for-an-answer.

She looked at me, raised her right hand and warmed my cheeks with her palm. That look. It’s not sarcasm this time. That look is a look of trust. I hope she doesn’t change her mind.

Diwata, my eight-year-old sister suddenly came in and smiled at us while she rubs her eyes and said in her cute little voice, “I peed on my bed, Mama. I’m soooorrrryyy…”

My mother and I looked at each other and laughed. She got up from her chair and wiped some leftover tears from her face and carried Diwata like a baby. Well, she’s still our baby and her light is what i need to give me courage in this path I’m taking.

As they both have left the room, an excruciating pain started to kick in from my right wrist. A glow of yellow that sparkles made a cut from near my palm down the middle of my forearm. It cuts deep and it’s painful. There’s no blood but something magical is drawing its way to my body. Like a symbol of a mighty sword. A tattoo showing up once again. Out of nowhere. Clueless of its meaning. Victim of an otherwordly scene. While I haven’t deciphered the previous symbols, here i am yet again, left with more questions than answers.

Answers. I feel like i need to start looking for them.

To be continued…

Childhood vs Adulthood, and some thoughts with it.

Earlier we were browsing our old photos from an old photo album that breathes like it’s gonna die soon. Although sooner or later it will, the joy that was enveloped in every dust of a developed film will forever be fresh in our memories. The how bad we wanted to be old when we were young, the how impatient we were to work in an office someday that we even thought of skipping school just to accelerate to adulthood and the picture of how fantastic growing old was. We had a really happy childhood—despite being poor and having less, despite the wounds and bruises that literally left scars on our knees for stumbling and falling onto the ground while running and playing around the streets way too much, despite having just enough “baon” for school and notwithstanding the “palo” and sermon we always get for disappointing our parents.


The paradox of it all is this: Now we all wish we were young again because nobody told us that being an adult sucks… and hurts and… you know what’s next. Or maybe our parents did say it then, but we were too stubborn of a kid to listen. I remember my mother used to tell me to stop fantasizing about growing old fast and to enjoy childhood because you could never take it back. She was right, no? But I used to smirk a lot everytime she says this because all my daydreams and playtime were filled with acting like a boss in an office while carrying my momma’s bag and writing in a checkbook that was self-made.

The fact of the matter was we always want what we cannot have—so crazy and so bad that it kills me to think that we really can’t take it back, that we can no longer be kids anymore who only worry about them games to play tomorrow and how to make our momma proud.

I’d like to think, however, that everyday we’ve got a choice. Only two, though. Nothing in between. You can choose to whine all day with all the bills you’ve got to pay and start slowing, or you can embrace the slaps of adulthood, take it all in and keep on growing. Growing on both the literal sense of it and the more in depth one, you know what I mean. But remember, the choices we consciously make shape our destiny, so be careful, be very, very careful.