Writing my wrong
- Marco Sardillo of The Philippine Star’s YS (Ateneo de Manila University) () - May 29, 2002 - 12:00am
I have often been derided — more by myself than by others — for being fat. It’s not as if I need anyone to tell me about my shortcomings. What others call a bad case of low self-esteem, I lovingly refer to as a commitment to honesty. I just don’t find the need to cower under euphemisms by calling a spade a trowel — or call my tummy a permanent lifesaver biologically wrapped around my waist. I dare admit that I am not grotesquely disfigured, nor am I hideous. If not for the nose that I have, I probably could even pass for cute. You see, I am cute — but only at certain, very specific time intervals. (In my case, at around 5 p.m. after a two-hour workout and a thirty-minute shower.)

High school, I suppose, is hellish for any short, fat, and ugly kid. I was no different for I had learned the truth at a younger age than Janis Ian’s Seventeen. Senior year was the first time I ever attended a real soiree. I had already lost about ten pounds during the summer and was starting to feel good about myself. I was, to my recollection, no longer short, ugly and fat; I was only short, ugly and not-so-fat. And then, I met "F".

It was a scene straight out of a movie. I stood there, on the other end of the room, captivated by this beautiful woman who just came in. I wasted no time and immediately approached her. Being the klutz that I regrettably was (and still am), I fumbled and pointed to her identification card and muttered: "Ah, ikaw pala si ‘F’." Ours was the smallest small talk ever. But I vowed that I would not leave until I had gotten her number. Which I did.

She became a habit. The Simpsons at 6 p.m., followed by The Wonder Years, and then our conversation. Much of our friendship blossomed over the phone. She was, for lack of a better less sentimental term, my anchor. Being around her made me forget all my "issues" in life. There was no need to worry about being too short, too ugly and too "not-so-fat" — this, despite the fact that she was tall, sexy, and beautiful. Eventually, we graduated from high school and we studied in different colleges. She met someone, they fell in love, and got married. I always knew that this was how things would end up. You could always count on me to see the storm clouds brewing underneath the silver lining.

To this day, I do not know exactly what went wrong. Our last real conversation was quite interesting, to say the least. You see, her husband (then-boyfriend) was (and I suppose still is) a very jealous guy. He demanded that I stop calling her — and, believe me, I tried. One night, she told me that I just had to stop calling. Our conversation ended with me making a promise (that I knew I couldn’t and didn’t want to keep): she would never hear from me again.

The problem was, I lied. I tried calling her a few more times to apologize, but she’d always put the phone down. She changed her phone number — and I dare wonder if she, too, has changed.

These days, I’m tired. I’m tired of living as if she were still around to hear my stories. I’m tired of catching glimpses of her — reading her into tragic literature, and watching her in movies. I’m tired of feeling sorry and not being forgiven. Most of all, I am afraid that inasmuch as I lived for her when she was around, I still live because of her. I have changed a lot since our last conversation: I have shorter hair, I’ve lost so much weight, etc. It scares me to think the life that I call now is but a postscript to all that.

Why now and why this? I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because I refuse to make her that one story. Maybe I need this as a promise to myself that she will no longer haunt my mind. Hell, maybe I’m even hoping that she will read this and see herself, and forgive me. Whatever it is, I do know that, as a writer, what does not kill you — though it can maim or break you, at times — you can at least write about .

This is me alive, scathed and yes, writing.

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