Sunday, July 21, 2002

Into the Darkness

It's dark and cold and you can see nothing but black and lines of white along the wall. Dust is all over the floor and there are piles of boxes, books, and paper everywhere. Insects of all kinds lurk in the corners and it's not surprising if one lands near you. No, I have not described to you my attic or basement. What I have recounted to you is my room.

When I was around five or six, my family relocated to Greenhills from San Juan. I found this strange since when we were still living in San Juan, I'd go to Greenhills for my preschool while when we were already at Greenhills, I'd go to Xavier School, which was near our old house in San Juan.

One of the best reasons for relocating was the fact that we each got to have our own rooms. Back in the "old house" as I'd call it, there were only three rooms reserved for us: one for my baby sister, one for my brother, and one for my parents. Here in the new house, rooms were not a problem. We even had enough space to have a guest room.

My room back then seemed quite enormous to me. The wall paper was white all over. The same could be said for the cabinets and the closets. In the center of the room was a queen-sized bed, a sofa, and a television. I'd usually jump from my bed to the sofa and back again. There was also a long desk with file drawers, all of which were connected to one side of the wall. A shelf would stand in the left portion of the room, showcasing not books but toys which I had acquired so far: robots, dinosaurs, and other cars. What was also a quirk was that my room had two other doors, one which led to my brother's room and the other to my parent's room.

Despite me having a room, I seldom slept in it, especially as I grew older. I'd usually spend my evenings at my parent's room, along with my sister. We'd all fit in the king-size bed, which also happened to be facing the large television set. I do remember sleeping in my room though, and at one time, I had a large mosquito net over the bed so that I couldn't be bitten by the insects.

Of course it would soon all be taken away from me. A few years later after moving in, my grandmother acquired cancer and the doctor said she had three months to live. Since her condition was critical, father wanted to give her the best living conditions. She was brought to our house to live. I was taken out of my room and forced to sleep with my parents every night. Soon, I was sharing rooms with a lot of people: my brother, my grandmother, and my parents. My toys remained in the room while my clothes and toiletries went to my brother's room. Some of my books were put into my parent's room where I'd read them there before I sleep.

My grandmother lived with us for three years before she died. I remember my mother complaining to her friends that she was supposed to be with us for only three months yet it extended to three years. Never underestimate the will of a person to live. I remember during my grandmother's birthday when me and my sister knocked on the door, entered, and gave grandma some sampaguitas. It was hung beside her bed where everyone could see it. Two days later, I came by and saw that it was already rotten. It was soon removed.

When grandmother died, my grandfather and auntie would move in. The two would be switching between our house and my uncle's house, which was located in Alabang. For the first half of the month, grandfather would be living in my room. For the second half, it would be auntie. This would go on for five to six years and soon, it was only my grandfather who was living with us.

And then in May of 2001, grandfather suffered a heart attack. He died, causing grief to the family. When I entered my room then, it was quite different. My shelves were no longer stacked with toys. There were a lot of picture frames in the room. There was even new furniture. The place also smelled different. The bathroom was also filled with boxes, a storehouse rather than a sanitary locale.

The room was refurnished for a few months. My mom wanted to redo the entire place. She asked me what kind of wallpaper I wanted. I told her black. She complained and told me to choose another color or theme. I still told her I wanted black. She found it weird.

"Why bother asking me if you're just not going to agree to my decision? It is going to be my room, after all." I said.

Since they couldn't find a wallpaper that was entirely black, I had to settle for one with a black background and narrow white bars (think of it resembling a jail). My family was stupefied that I chose such a scheme. My brother was laughing at me and even showed his guests at how ridiculous it seemed.

By the time I moved into the room, things had changed again. Not only was the wallpaper different from when I was a child but the bed was gone. Instead, I just had the couch with a different cover. There was a big space in the middle which gave me room to maneuver. I restructured the contents of my shelves and soon had my books lined up.

I had my windows sealed with tape since insects were coming in through them. I was only partially successful as some creatures still manage to get it despite my best efforts. I had the boxes removed from the bathroom and made it livable again. Still, there were cracks in the sink and an army of ants would come out in the night. I had to learn to shut the lid of my toothpaste unless I wanted them to be contaminated by ants.

A month or so later, my parents would complain that my room was disorganized and dirty. I told them not to bother me since it was, after all, my room and that it was their fault it was disorganized in the first place. You see when I still had the room when I was a child, I was already requesting shelves from my parents. At the time, they'd just laugh and not take it seriously. Now, when I told them I needed new shelves, they immediately bought me one. Soon, my room was more organized than usual.

My friends who came into my room had several reactions. One thought that it was cool. Another felt that the room was too hot. Others became dizzy, and some claimed that the walls were moving.

For all the dirtiness in my room, I can be proud of my bookshelf. It's lined with books that many people would envy. Rows and rows of books would fill the space, and these books were not something I inherited from my parents. Instead, they were bought with my own money throughout the years.

I really like the room now. It "feels" like me. My parents complain about it, just like everything else about my life. My friends find it fascinating and eccentric, just like me. As for me, I've never felt more comfortable, or more unique.