Postcard from Quezon City

And the boy, unwilling to go to work the next day, wakes up on a Sunday morning to gather himself on his own nook in the apartment’s small laundry terrace that overlooks the neighbors’ rustic walls and roofs. On the platform, he places a sheet of the comics spread from yesterday’s paper and sits on it in the most comfortable fashion beside a tumbler of steaming black coffee. He fiddles with a book in hand and, due to the lack of a bookmark, searches for the pages he left off before he slept last night. As he continues enjoying life by reading, the boy notices that in one of the novel’s later chapters, the story’s perspective would shift to examine themes of anxiety, middle-life crises, regret, and of elusive power play; and he, by a strike of uneven perception, realizes that all of this is seemingly incidental. That one cloudy day he would find himself sitting in a dingy space, sipping coffee from a ridiculously overpriced tumbler, reading a book quite expensive with due respect to his monthly salary, and suddenly feeling shitty about dreams and plans that have gone awry.

He feels like he was being clobbered by half of what he presumed as reality. The boy would dwell again to his usual thoughts on contentment, money, modest pretense, guilt, and the pursuit of happiness. Sooner or later, he thinks, he would need to buy work clothes and shoes and unnecessary things a few notches less than fancy—but none of these things he would purchase with real, unadulterated satisfaction because this skirmish lifestyle he chooses to keep up with the space he’s in, could be something that is not actually designed for him. As an English teacher, he feels like a breathing human version of a misplaced modifier: that which should be situated on the opposite side of a sentence, or could be scraped off altogether. He remembers one class discussion when someone quoted Shakespeare by saying that the world is an oyster; and presently, the boy honestly thinks that apparently, not everyone could use that excerpt. Not him, at the very least. It appears to him that all his life, he was just indulging into a thesis-antithesis-synthesis line of argument with himself where nobody loses or wins.

The boy surmises this moment in the terrace as corny, too romanticised, as if it were a cliché music video material for the Cranberries. So to add validation to the increasingly dramatic Sunday morning experience, he turns on the radio to listen to a British pop-folk song for which he’s sure is enjoyed by only the very few; then the song ends, and is subsequently followed by a detergent commercial that featured a tacky jingle sung by badgering voice-overs. Finally the boy smiles and leaves the terrace where he habitually develops and demolishes his shallow understanding of success and culture.


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