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papa osmubal
oscar balajadia i. one-sentence event 1

"Give me a simple proof that God created time," said Juanito, the town's bum, belching cigarette smoke from his mouth, billowing in the air, forming hieroglyph no one could decrypt.

ii. one-sentence event 2

"Why do you need to ask me why I live like this?" asked Juanito, the town's bum, turning around, half of him yellow with the moonlight, his entirety a tall blaze, his face burning with answers.

iii. one-sentence event 3

"Sunday and everyone is wearing their halo," said Juanito, the town's bum, shaking his head, putting his leather jacket on, stepping on the cigarette butt he had just flicked to the ground to extinguish, his boots shining with the sunlight, zooming awat in a rush of energy on his Harley, embrocating the churchgoers with dust and his mocking smile.

iv. angel boxer

Mike Tyson is a changed man. He's venturing into his latest comeback fight as a kinder, gentler soul. Take a few minutes to chat with him and you'll discover he's not the savage that he's constantly portrayed... —Tim Graham for ESPN, prior to Mike Tyson-Williams Heavyweight non-title bout on July 30, 2004.

Mike Tyson, ladies and gentlemen, is now a cherub, although his face remains the same, with just a slight modification: a Maori tattoo, on the left side. You can, however, kiss him at your own risk. As almost all know, he will not eat children anymore and he will not crash bones to slurp the warm marrow, although his fangs still have the memory of blood and severed ear. Evander Holyfield, a boxer for Christ and a good family man, was made an unwilling black Van Gogh, galloping in the ring like a shaman desperately doing his dance for the gods to send rain and healing. (Does Evander Holyfield's silence mean he is in intense preparation for his first solo art exhibition in Paris or is he conditioning his other ear against another bite? Two is a lifetime record.) This time Mike Tyson will not, according to news reports or unfounded speculations, touch the skin of his teeth to skin of another human being. But do not think, ladies and gentlemen, that Mike Tyson, the Iron, has had a sex change. Guys like Mike Tyson will always disagree with the likes of Michael Jackson. The ring emcee may have a harsher and more masculine voice than Mike Tyson, but remember, ladies and gentlemen, Mike Tyson is a man, still a man, an unpredictable man. Within months, he might be ordained a deacon or a minister. Or he can be reconsidered honorary citizen of Shanghai or be a full-time talk show co-host to Diego Maradona in Argentina , as they have one thing in common that all people know. Their rapport shows to people that doping can be a religion. This is boxing, this is sport, this is life, and no one can really know what will happen next.

v. vegetarian

(San Ma Lo or Avenida Almeida Ribeiro, Macao, 1999)

Here is the best Chinese vegetarian restaurant in town. The cooks, world-class in their own right, or so the signboard boasts in distorted English, were trained in one of the strictest monasteries on the outskirts of Tibet. The constant on the menu is the vegetarian sausage, which captures the hearts of eaters and passersby alike. An old man nearby, himself a practicing vegetarian, nodded and smiled when I complimented the natural savor of the sausage: Chan hai, nei ti sou cheong hou hou mei (These sausages are very delicious.) Maybe he did not quite get my Cantonese, but a raised thumb sent the message across. Meals sate hunger and, with deeper thought, do not entertain wisdom: I walked out after what I personally call "religious meal," wondering how they knew the taste and texture of real meat. One morning, too, I chanced upon the restaurant owner buying yi bin chuk (fish congee) and fan cheong chuk (pig intestine congee) where I usually take early breakfast.

vi. at a bus station on Coloane Island , Macau

Scratching one's forehead and yawning are the most meaningful things to do while waiting for the bus. Without notice, buses here suddenly reroute to where they can pick up more money. This is how life is lived here and this is how things are here. A while ago, I thought I heard a bus approaching when, I realized, it was just the wind doing what it always does to the trees. I always ask myself if that sound is the naughty and haughty laughter of the wind when it displays its might or the angry complaint of the trees. I just don't know. I don't even know why I think of this at all, when I can scratch my forehead and yawn. Still, not a single bus comes. I have been standing here for ages. No souls are around. I am beginning to speak the language of the wind and of the trees. Then an old woman dragging herself slowly on her weak and creaking legs comes by. Now I have somebody here with me to wait for the bus, I murmur to myself; deep within me is the brightest and sweetest smile, although my face does not physically show it. She slowly inches forward, toward me. She stops right in front of me, then grabs her handkerchief and wipes her face dry. It is summer and the sun at this time of year is unforgiving. She side-glances at me for a short while without saying a word, not even a slight smile. I want to smile at her, but for an unknown reason I can't. She folds her hanky and puts it back in her pocket. She then proceeds, walking. After a few steps she stops, looks back, and then slips her veined hand in her pocket, doubl-checking that she had not dropped her handkerchief. Knowing it is there, she goes forth. Her shadow is a long rod lying on the road. I watch her figure slowly disappear into the horizon along with the sun. No sound around, the wind is now dead and mute. The ticking of my clock hounds and haunts, getting louder and louder every second.

vii. I am not a beggar

The supposition that a beggar is poor is all crap. A beggar has as much as I have. I am not a pastor or a priest, and I will never be one because... simply because I believe the Bible is... simply the Bible is... never mind. I dislike Mother Theresa as much as I do baked carrots. Proselytizing is a crime. One kills someone changing the latter's opinions: Unless a man is born again, he will not blah, blah, blah, etcetera, etcetera. Forget that Mount Sinai stuff: Blessed are the poor blah, blah, blah. I do not intend to multiply fish and bread, or turn water into wine. A beggar has as much as I have---the beggar has more. In the morning, I prepare and eat breakfast in a jiffy. After slipping out the door, I lose memory of everything behind me. I do not know how the taste of scrambled egg differs from that of a whole yolk. Breakfast means reading a newspaper while drinking latté. Watching TV is not fun, it just has to be done before bed. And what is love? It stings when my girlfriend whispers she loves me while fixing my tie. It stings when my boss says he cares for his workers. One snake knows the hiss of another. The sunup? The sun rises to start the day. The sundown? I know the sun sets after a day's work. The sun has nothing to do with the heart, so kill all the poets! Everything is just ritual. Because I am not a beggar. Because I am not a bird, or a fox, or a rat, or a flower, or a grass. I am a slave to time---I am subject to wear and tear.


[About the author. Papa Osmubal is Oscar Balajadia of Magalang (Well, don't get fooled by that name), now a Macau resident (Sorry, where?) and married to a Chinese local (How? How come? Why?). He has been a Catholic seminarian (OK, he once opened a book at an exam in Latin and Romance Languages---but who in frigging hell did not?), a Catholic missionary (Oh, the rosary is the answer to our country's economic problems and to your alcoholism and addiction to nicotine!), a bookstore staffer (Yes, sir, listen here, we know it is urgent, so your book is on its way from Guangzhou and will be here in 8 months!), a librarian (Oh, it's Friday the 13th and I am not putting 666 as Dewey call number on this bloody book!), and a teaching assistant (OK, pal, I know you prepared for the exams so I will check and mark them!). He is currently a teacher (yawn) and has an M.A. in English Studies (yawn even more, nod off, and then snore) from the University of Macau (sorry again, where?).]

-Posted: 7:42 AM 6/26/08 | More of this author on eK!
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