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Walking in the rain, in the flood

I walked through a couple of meters of knee-high floodwaters the other day. Fortunately, I was wearing flip-flops (thick ones, thank goodness) and a short dress. I was scared for a while, but only because I was alone, it was way past midnight, and I remembered I'd scratched a scab somewhere on my right thigh and a word I hadn't thought of since college came to mind: leptospirosis.

I waited for a group of people to wade ahead of me, comforting myself with the thought that if I fell into an open drain, they'd notice and get help. But they walked too fast, and when a couple of cars passed through the flood, causing some waves to come crashing at my legs, I panicked and stopped on higher ground, hoping another group would come for me to follow.

I waited for a while, but nobody else came. When I checked the time, it was already close to 2 am. Some men pushing a stalled car called out to me and told me to walk right on ahead, the waters weren't deep. But they were too far, and I was temporarily paralyzed by my fear.

I shrugged it off and told myself: I'm a big girl now, and I control my destiny, and my destiny does not involve falling into open manholes or drains, dammit. It doesn't involve getting sick because I walked in dirty water. And it doesn't involve being alone for the rest of my life, either!

So I walked on, and walked part of the way home, where I realized it wasn't really the meaning of the word "leptospirosis" that made me worry; rather, it was remembering it's context and knowing that, once upon my lifetime, I had a hand to hold while wading through floodwaters. Remembering that, I was made aware of not having one at the moment, and the thought of being alone scared me.

Strangely, it was going deeper into that memory that also comforted me.

Most of my college friends would know why I'd say it was a "color of the wheat fields" moment. Really, I think it's lovely that when I walk through flood, I can be scared on the surface, but deep inside, I can still find an ember of a beautiful memory of love, of friendship that warms me.

(Then I remembered a poem I received years ago that was written about that moment, a poem I'd lost when I lost Hotmail. Thank God for Yahoo Messenger. I got another copy from the great poet himself!)

Tulad nuon sa EspaƱa, sa ganitong gabi, sa ganito karaming tubig
Jaime Jesus Borlagdan
Kay Dat

Kung meron man akong hinanakit
sa pagbagsak ng langit, maliban sa tubig
ay ang iyong pagkapit na wala ngayon

sa braso ko na nuo'y nanliit na baka
bumigay o mabali sa higpit at lapit
ng iyong init, ang iyong balat
sa aking balat, ang paa natin
walang ingay
sa ilalim ng tubig.

Mula Mabuhay, hanggang Lacson
inihatid natin ang isa't isa
(kahit tayo'y dalawa) sa isang simula
na magmula nang matapos natin ang baha
ay nawalan na ng hangganan
ang pagdugtong ng ating mga lansangan.

Sa isang pag-ulan ibinuhol tayo
sa kasal ng pagtampisaw sa sanaw
sa isa't isa tayo humawak para di maitangay
ng paglimot sa imburnal at lagusan.
Ipinasya nating itigil muna ang pagdaloy
ng panahon at paglaruan ang naipong sandali
hanggang lunurin tayo nito sa malabong tubig
At tayo'y nalunod, oo, at ginusto nating
huwag huminga, huwag umahon.

Salamat at nagtiwala kang di ko hahayaang
madapa ka sa nakalubog na daan. Salamat
at di mo ako iniwang nangangapa
ng mahahawakan

tulad ngayon
tulad ngayon.

Agosto 5, 2000, Sulu Sta. Cruz Manila

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