The world is a big balloon
The world is a big balloon with everything stretching on the surface and nothing inside except a growing mass of emptiness. At the very end there will be a small explosion to mark another small end in a limitless expanse of small endings. But this is only a conversation among children. They talked tonight about things like the universe out there with its stars not quite as many as the number of neurons inside our brains. So that they concluded: There must be a universe out there as big as the universe inside us, somewhere.
But as we are all only children much laden with theories not quite as significant as the fact we are together and just talking about the first things that come to our minds, what we talk about is not quite as important as that we are here, this night, together for real. And we are celebrating a togetherness with those who have gone before us. For instance, the grandparents whom the children never met unless in stories still told among uncles and aunts.
The annual visit to their plots at the cemeteries have been made. Flowers placed in the appropriate concrete crosses, candles lighted and a few words to mark the faith they are still with us watching. We have no proof, of course, but what does it take for the children to believe? Nothing much.
Just a few short prayers and a brief introductory remark. Elias, here is your Lolo and Lola. They died before you were born. But if your Lola ever knew you, I’m sure she would have liked you. Especially the fact that you prattle just so. You have a prattling tongue while hers was silent most of the time. You express your feelings verbally without any inhibition. Easy for you to say, I love you; While she herself, never really spoke those words. She was more inclined to cook for us a good meal when she felt good about us. But that was her. You are yourself, more huggable. Never lose that.
Your Lolo was even worse than her for not saying, “I love you.” to anyone; even his own wife. He was more inclined to make light of these things. It was simply the culture back then. They had been through mean times. He was not inclined to softness. Hardness was his way of survival. But if he were here now he would have hugged you even so. You are Elias, the huggable. The one who prattles sometimes with a studied Malaysian accent learned from watching Asian TV.
You are the youngest of your family confronting on “all souls day” your oldest remembered ancestors. And watching you, one cannot help wondering what you must feel about life and death, whether anything at all scares you about these things. Does anything really get into your spirit, your brain, your mind?
At the cemetery plot you climbed the banyan tree. Your older sister, Linya, told of how the Buddha sat under this sort of tree and found enlightenment. Your father put in his own few centavos worth recounting how Maya gave birth to Prince Siddhartha hanging from a tree such as this, the dakit. All you worried about was how you climbed up the tree without any clue at all how to come down.
The local boys demonstrated to you how easy it was to jump down from where you were. But then you said you were bigger than them and so therefore by that fact might hurt yourself jumping down. And so you applied the first rule of finding your way after getting lost, which might have been a quote from the book “Alice in Wonderland.” Do the first thing you did last and the last thing you did first. Which was how you got down from the tree. Backwards.
And so for this essay dedicated to you, we give you the right for the beginning and end. And it might have something to say about life and death or the beginning and end of little things. Or perhaps not. And so it ends:
The world is a big balloon!
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