KADDUA

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By: Marlenmao

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.

 

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