eK! is electronic Kabalen, a web-exclusive Kapampangan journal of ideas

papa osmubal
oscar balajadia [THANKS TO editors-cum-publishers Stacy Taylor and Laurie O'Hare, in whose now-defunct magazine called Chick Flicks, these short shorts (flash fictions) first felt the love and touch of human eye and heart. That was when these flash fictions were so very young, with much uncertain feel, clumsy touch, and confused faces, and yes, with much weaker wings to fly higher. They bring me back to my happy days as a regular fiction writer at Chick Flicks —perhaps those were my happiest days as a writer of short shorts.]

i.

the blind


He was born blind, and the world he knew was the world his palms literally knew. A medical breakthrough and hard work on the part of a doctor gave him a chance to see. He was happy; the doctor was proud of his accomplishment. The blind thanked everybody who helped him in many different ways, small and big.

He was in his room when he saw a bunch of colorful flowers given by his many visitors. Were they flowers? He confirmed. He closed his eyes and meticulously smelt them. What fragrance! Yes, they were flowers. And by touch and smell he actually knew their respective names. He drew his face close to the flowers and softly whispered to himself, "Flowers... yes, these are flowers." And he opened his eyes. They were full of tears, and his face was veiled with a smile one could only see in the purity and innocence of a tyke. A glass was sitting next to the flowers. "That's a glass," blurted the attending nurse, who was exceedingly happy for her patient. A glass? How could he possibly not know it? He closed his eyes and felt it carefully with his palms. Yes, it was a glass. Then a man introduced himself, "I am John, your good old buddy. See? Yes, it's me—John. You hear my voice? I am John, your old buddy!" He closed his eyes and felt John's face with his palms.

Yes, it was John. His old pal, John. John. John. John. The name reverberated in his heart and mind.

Then he heaved a heavy sigh and said, "What is the use of sight, when all I have to do is close my eyes just to see things? What is the use of hearing, when even if I have my eyes closed I can hear and recognize sounds?" He whispered something else to John, and John nodded and closed his eyes. John's eyes were full of tears and sadness as he stood to talk to the doctor and the nurse in private.

II.

names in the dark


He sat by the window. Half of his face was yellow with the ray of the moon. The lights were off, and one may presume he was all alone. The entire room was deaf and dumb. The burning tip of his cigarette was a worried eye in the dark. The smoke was a ghost that was rapidly appearing and disappearing after each well-studied and detailed puff. He was looking outside. His thoughts were lost in the murk. Or was he even thinking of anything?

"What is your name?" he asked, braving to speak in a voice so low so as not to break the sanctity of silence.

"If I say Ji Woo, people will think I am just making it up," the other voice in the dark room answered softly and lowly. "Last night, one called me Ye Ji just a few minutes after I introduced myself," she said after a timid and shy, but brief, giggle. "Names don't have meaning to people anymore, do they?" she said.

He stood and fixed his clothes. After lighting one more cigarette, he opened the door carefully. Very carefully as he tried, but the door still creaked. "Here," he said, handling her a sum of money. "And... what is yours?" she asked.

"Pyong Gil," he said, "call me Pyong Gil."

"Yours is the most honest and most innocent voice I have ever heard in my entire life," she said. "It sounds much like my mother's. Not like my dad's. Not like the people's I meet here at night like this."

He looked at her before quietly slipping outside. Then his figure slowly disappeared in the dark.

He left the door open. It would remain open for the rest of the night to wait for another figure to come in from the dark, to keep the ray of the moon creeping in.


[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: 11:13 AM 10/26/09 | More of this author on eK!
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