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As a student of Karl Marx, I espouse his DM (dialectical materialism). This principle debunks age-old metaphysics- baseless customs and superstition including belief in ghosts.
Five years ago, I med Jed, I was serving as the Luzon chair of our national organization. He was a Kaddua, the Ilocano term for comrade, meaning he also studied Marxism like me. He was a part of a dedicated group based in Ilocos Sur organizing Northern Luzon.
Jed invited me to Vigan to give a talk about Campus Journalism. When I went back to Manila, he started showing his romantic feelings for me through text messages. It wasn’t hard for me to like him since we were rooting for the same ideology. He constantly sent text messages asking how my day was, how I should persevere despite personal struggles that we face when we decide to become full-time activists. He became my silver lining during gray-cloud days, so to speak. We lost contact after I left the organization because of a breakup I wasn’t able to handle.
Then last year, he sent an e-mail and added me in his Friendster account. He said he saw the poems that I regularly post on a yahoogroup. This February, he texted me and told me that he’s going to Manila. I asked him if we could meet up. He said he might not be able to meet up with me because it will just be a short visit. I asked Jed how he’s been. That’s when he revealed the reason for his visit. “Check up ko sa oncologist ko. Tapos kunin ko third cycle ko ng chemo. Mahal nga eh!” he replied candidly. I was so surprised and worried. He told me that he got an operation recently. “Gall bladder tas a portion of my colon…” he said in his text message. He was quick to plead not to mention his situation to our friends in the organization.” Though ang alam nila ay gall bladder lang. Buti buhay pa ako. ”
When I received a text that he already arrived in Manila, I asked him when he’s going to be free so I could visit him. He didn’t reply. On labor day, I met up with my former colleagues in Liwasang Bonifacio where they were gathering before the rallyists move to Mendiola later that afternoon. Jed’s collective-his “colleague” inIlocos Sur- disclosed how he suffered from his illness. I made a mental note to call Jed on his cellphone because I haven’t received any text from him in weeks. When I arrived home, I was so tired it slipped my mind. I dreamed about him. We were standing on what I surmised was water. Jed was like a few meters from me. When I saw him, I called one his name. But he was petrified, staring at me with a weary face. He shifted away and away from me, and I continued calling his name, whimpering. He disappeared from my sight. I woke up in tears. A few days after the rally, I got an e-mail: Jed had passed away. I was in shock. I tried to call him on his cell but it wasn’t in service anymore. I took a one-day leave and caught the 10 p.m. bus in Cubao going to Vigan. My heart was filled with remorse. I sat beside the window and looked at the passing shadows of houses and farms. I was trying to remember how he looked like. Five years was long enough to scratch a few faded memories. I arrived in Vigan at 5 a.m. When I arrived at Jed’s house, I saw his coffin placed in the salla, surrounded by flowers. I felt hesitant to go near my kaddua’s coffin. I haven’t gotten proper sleep from the trip and the scent of burning candles on each side of his coffin made me weak. ”
Go ahead,” Jed’s collective goaded. I was afraid Jed might smile at me. I heard a lot of stories about corpses smiling when their lost beloved comes to their funeral. Jed’s face was dark because of the therapy he received for his cancer. His makeup stood out on his face. He lost weight. But he was more handsome then. Inside the glass, I saw his whole body. His collective pointed his hands to me: the right side seemed so alive while the left was withered. It was because of the intravenous medicine that was pumped into his system when he lost strength to swallow anything. After lunch, I said goodbye to his mother who just came back from Saudi. She was so appreciate of me even though we just met that day. She held my hand and weeped. I told her I needed to be in the office the next day.
I looked at Jed’s coffin the last time and I was certain he smiled at me. That wasn’t how his face looked when I first glanced at him that morning. I silently prayed for his soul and whispered I hope he was happy I went to see him. I arrived in Manila at 1 a.m. Short of rest, I went to work. When I came back from work in the afternoon, my 80-year-old lola asked me who came home with me. I was baffled. I went home alone that afternoon. When I prodded her about it, my lola said she saw a man tailing me when I climbed up the stairs going to my room. I had quickly thought of Jed. One time, I was alone watching DVD. I started smelling candle fumes. Maybe it was Jed reminding me that he is just around.