Last Post (Probably) Before Getting on the Plane

Self looked up tickets to Manila in September.  The reason she focuses on September is:  that is when the last class she has agreed to teach ends.

Then, she has to be back in San Francisco by Oct. 1.  Since September is many months away, the tickets were pretty cheap, cheaper than the ones she bought in December and January.  But she decided to wait until she got home before purchasing.

She feels, somehow, tricked:  she is still reading Sepharad.  It is the one and only book she has read in the last couple of weeks.

Here is the author, on a “foggy, misty afternoon in New York, standing at the fence of a tiny cemetery locked between the high walls of buildings.”  Here he is, paying homage to “the immemorial catalogue of Spanish diasporas.”

He recounts how he discovered, on one internet page, “in white letters on a black background, a list of Sephardim the Germans departed from the Island of Rhodes to Auschwitz.  You would have to read them one by one, aloud, as if reciting a strict and impossible prayer, to understand that not one of these names can be reduced to a number in an atrocious statistic.”

Self is particularly struck by this last statement.  She remembers the yearly ritual at the 9/11 site:  the names of the victims being read aloud.

On the other hand, self has seen a moving documentary on Ampatuan, where the number of murdered serves as a stark and eloquent title:  “The 58.”

The author of Sepharad is preparing to leave a place where he has been happy:  “The least gesture,” he thinks, “casts the shadow of farewell.”

He focuses on his daily ritual:

Later I turn on the radio as I fix breakfast, but despite the announcer this is not a day like any other, and my routine of getting the coffee can from its precise place in the cupboard and the carton of milk from the refrigerator is false, like the ease with which I open the drawer with the spoons or turn the knob for the gas or put the filter in the coffeepot.  False because tomorrow afternoon we will be two ghosts in this place, unknown and invisible to the new renter, whom we will not see and for whom we will leave an envelope with the concierge that contains the key to the apartment.

Self thinks of her room in L’Fisher Chalet:  Room 2030.  For weeks she lived, breathed, ate, and read in that room.  She pored over maps of Negros Occidental.  She read The Visayan Daily Star.  She texted.

She thinks of Don Salvador Benedicto and Bailon Fastfood.  She remembers the masses in the San Sebastian Cathedral, and afterwards walking to SM City in the Reclamation Area.

She hates to contemplate what is left of her garden.

And Gracie!  Poor, valiant Gracie!  Who the vet was so worried might not make it to the end of January, whose side had a wound that opened up when self carried her to the backyard one day, whose fur rubbed off on self’s jeans.

Self has spent a small fortune to save Gracie.  The amount of money it will cost to keep Gracie alive and well presses on her.  Hubby refuses to help, but also refuses to contemplate other options.  Could she get some money from the sugar?  Would it help Gracie to live through another year?  Is that what she went to Bacolod for?

Self feels she is someone real in Bacolod.  She will never be a ghost, as long as she can return.

She sometimes feels like a ghost in Redwood City.  In Manila, today, with all her family seated around her in the Chinese restaurant in Greenbelt 5, she didn’t feel herself.  She only felt fully herself when she spoke to Dear Cuz, sitting beside her.  Then she was able to get a grip.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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