Achieving Happiness

May 23, 2008

Samu’t-saring alaala

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 10:23 am

It’s been four days and still it’s quite difficult for me to accept that Ka Bel is really gone. I read the news reports, I see the pictures, I hear the radio updates and watch the tv coverage of his wake and the tributes; but somehow, none of these seem to make coherent sense to me: something in me is still in stubborn denial, refusing to acknowledge his complete physical loss.

I suppose it’s because I haven’t gone to his wake yet. Apart from my husband, I haven’t talked to anyone in person about his death and how it has grieved me and continues to grieve me. Is this some kind of way of keeping him alive — my not attending his wake? It’s like delaying the inevitable. I’ve cried rivers already, and even now as I write this, it’s hard to keep my eyes from blurring.

My friend Edre said that sooner or later I will have to face this and say goodbye. But the thing is, I really am not ready to say goodbye, not by a long shot.

Sometimes here, alone at home I talk out loud, addressing Ka Bel — telling him how angry I am at him for falling off the roof and dying like that. Yeah, yeah, I know the symbolism of him doing the household chores himself; his insistence on doing the repairs (alangan naman si Ka Osang ang umakyat sa bubong at ayusin ang tumutulong kisame), but he should not have done it alone, and at 6am, and without checking it out first with his children. Hay. I think he must’ve forgotten that he was 75 years old, and that he wasn’t as strong as he used to be (especially since his 16 months of incarceration courtesy of the &*%$#^Macapagal-Arroyo government).

I just wish he just stuck with watering or weeding his camote and corn garden, or digging up tubers last Tuesday; and left off fixing the roof. Hay.

It breaks my heart all over again to also think of Ka Osang and how she will now be forced to live out the rest of her years without him – him whom she lived with, loved, raised a family with, depended on and loved since she was 15 years old. I know she’s a strong woman, but a lot of her strength came from her husband’s love; the very same way Ka Bel’s strength also relied on her affection and presence.

I suppose my grief is more personal than political — I salute Ka Bel as an activist, revolutionary, a legendary labor leader, a great internationalist, exemplary congressional representative and steadfast servant of the people: all these labels are his and will remain his for posterity. But the fact is, I loved Ka Bel like my father, or grandfather – someone I respected personally because he was really a good person, a caring human being, someone of flesh and blood, someone so very dear, with or without the labels.

Napakarami kong pwedeng isulat tungkol sa kanya at kung paano ako naimpluwensiyahan ng kanyang pagkatao at pagka-rebolusyunaryo. Kung paano hindi siya marunong magkimkim ng hinanakit sa mga Kasama kahit pa parang nag-aalimpuyong apoy ang kanyang galit sa mga nang-aapi at nagsasamantala. Kung paano siya marunong tumaggap ng puna (at madalas yun, lalo na kung sobrang haba niyang magsalita sa rally o sa plenaryo — ngingiti siya, at magsosori — o may nasabing sablay sa midya). Kung paano siya tumawa at kung paano niya kayang pagtawanan ang sarili at mga patawa ng ibang tao at Kasama. Kung paano siya naging ama sa kanyang mga anak – mapagmahal, maalaga, at palaging nagsisikap na bumawi sa kanyang mga naging kakulangan noong sila’y maliliit pa at siya’y hindi pa aktibista. Kung paano siya maglambing sa kanyang asawa na kung tawagin niya’y ‘Mama’ habang siya naman ay masuyong tinatawag na ‘Daddy.’ Kung gaano siya kasipag sa pagbabasa, sa pagsusulat at pag-aaral sa bawat-araw ng kanyang buhay at paglilingkod bilang Kinatawan ng mamamayan sa kongreso.

Umaapaw ang puso at isip ko sa mga alaala tungkol kay Ka Bel, at matagal pa ang panahon bago maiibsan ang sakit ng kanyang pagkawala. Hindi madaling tanggapin na wala na siya at hindi na muling makakausap, makakatawanan, makakatrabaho. Mahirap ding hwag masaktan para sa kanyang iniwang pamilya na nakilala ko na rin at pinahahalagahan.

Oo nga pala, dalawang anak ng aso kong si Poofy ang inalagaan ni Ka Bel at kabilang na rin ngayon sa kanyang mga naulila – sa Polabear at si Dauphin. Si Dauphin talagang hiningi yun ni Ka Bel – natuwa siya nang ikuwento na matataba at balbon ulit ang pangatlong batch ng mga tuta ni Poofy. Siya mismo ang nagsakay sa van kay Dauphin, at sinama pa niya sa kanyang speaking engagement sa UP. Nahilo ang kawawang tuta, kaya pinababa at pinalakad niya sa damuhan sa labas ng UP Film Center.

Nakwento ni Ka Bel minsan na inaagawan siya ng tulugan ng dalawang aso. Nauunahan daw siya sa papag.

“Bakit hindi ninyo palabasin ng bahay o pababain sa sahig?”

Hindi daw niya kaya, naaawa daw siya. “Baka ginawin, sipunin.”

Naawa na naman. Kaya ayun, siya na lang ang natulog sa sahig habang ang mga aso kumportableng nakahilata sa papag. Sa susunod na mga gabi na nagkataong naunahan naman niya ang mga aso, kailangang isa-isahin niyang tanggalin ang mga nalagas na balahibo ng aso na dumikit na sa kanyang unan, kumot at kobre-kama.

Ka Bel, ang kulit mo talaga! Ngayon naman natatawa ako habang naiisip ang makailang beses na pumasok kang pudpod at madumi ang ilalim ng mga kuko.

“Nagbungkal na naman si Ka Bel!” Tumawa kaming lahat. “Ka Ofel, ilabas ang nailcutter…”

Umiinom ng kape kahit bawal; mahilig sa boxing; magaling mamalantsa; maganda ang penmanship; nangungupit (nang hindi sinasadya, baka adik lang talaga) ng bolpen nang may bolpen; paboritong kulay ay pula; pag may gustong hilingin, sasabihin “Meron kaya tayong…? (paperclip, liquid eraser, highlighter, lapis); hindi marunong kumanta pero pagnagsusulat unconsciously na nagha-hum ng “lalarinlarin…”; sa halip na ipaayos ang salamin pag natanggalan ng turnilyo, kukumpunihin gamit ang binaluktot na alambre at Scotch tape; pag walang panyo, okey lang na gamitin ang malinis na dish towel na sinungkit sa kusina ng sariling opisina.

Mabait. Palatawa. Matalino. Matapang. Mapagmahal.Huwaran. Dakila.

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