Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Story & The Song (Or One Queer Encounter in The Cordilleras)

It was a vacation that was planned to be unplanned and I was soaking up the spaces of each free second. I was quite unabashed about hogging the balcony table that overlooked the splendid mountains. My notebook, pristine and white, was opened and awaiting the first word. My pen was held upright and poised at the edge of a potential good story. Oh, I was getting there. I was reaching out for the first word, pushing my imagination beyond the porous boundaries of time, almost there when...

the gruff voice spoke and ruined it all for me.

"Are you a writer?" a Caucasian man asked. His voice must have it's own bass-enhancer -- it was booming. Accented. Familiar.

Annoyed by the distraction, I gave him a tight smile. "Sir, I just write."

I thought that was enough to push him off. Another aspiring writer --- we're everywhere. I turned back to my notebook and scribbled the first words: "Since time..."Then I stopped when I realized the man was actually leaning in and reading what I was writing! I sat up straight in a good imitation of a PMA cadet and expressed my annoyance in full. "Excuse me, sir?!"

"What's it about?" he asked again, not noticing (or ignoring) my obvious disgruntlement. "Adventure? Love? Murder?"

"I..." I was ready to ricochet a cheeky remark but checked myself because he was obviously a nosy grandfather who thinks all the world's his progeny. But the half-second pause was also enough to remind myself that, I do not have the first idea what the story is about. "I don't know...yet. I - I'm just starting."

This seemed to have gotten his approval. "Then it's going to be the best kind of story! The best stories are always.. always! Always those about the unknown." He nodded and waved at my pen. "Go on, carry on. Write it down." He said it as if he meant to watch me as I write the full length of the story.

"Uhm, I work best when I'm alone, sir."

He pooh-ed at that. Then he sighed and shrugged as if giving in. "Writers always do."

I nodded. "I think it just gives them time to think."

The man grinned. "Yes, that and then some..." He gave me a conspiratorial wink. "It's because you consult your muses in solitude, right? Tell me, are you Irish?"

I was taken aback. There was no hint of Irish-ness in my features. I was pug-nosed, dark, brown-eyed and all. "My great grandfather was. By the name of Gilleagan. How do you know that?" I answered, seriously curious.

"Because you young lady, possess the classic Irish malady of having a story-sundered soul. What's your name now?"

I became wary for a nanosecond and he must have sensed it. He started to guffaw and clap his hands. He might as well have been watching PT Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth for all his amusement.

"Look at me, I'm no faery. I will not claim your soul upon learning your name. Your surname then, if you are more comfortable with that!" He stopped tumbling over his seat but continued to chuckle. I felt silly.

"It's Burgos, sir."

"Clearly Spanish! The song-filled soliluquy!" He shook his head, eyes twinkling. "A Filipina with Irish and Spanish lineage. A warrior with a story in her soul and a song in her heart. That's the good part."

"Oh? Is there a bad part?"

"The story-sundered soul knows no rest until the story is told. You are enchanted by them all -- small stories, epic stories, tall stories, fat or thin. But always keeping an eye on a story that will reflect the story you have inside of you." He looked at me for validation. I shrugged, unsure.

"Okay, let me tell you more then. Some nights, I am sure, you are driven to insanity with the need to write but not a drop of precious word can be milked from your bemused pen... And it shatters you! It tears you apart!"

He was getting closer to home, I have to admit.

"Then some days, the song-filled soliloquy urges you to fill your room with song, with rhyme and melody but complete and utter inability barricades the way... Oh, i would hate to be you on those days, on those nights."

The story and the song. Both unwritten. My spirits spiraled down. I hate being myself on nights like those too. On days like this...

"Oh, now, you keep writing. You find that song too. Being Irish is almost being psychic. You'll find it just by sensing it, I tell you. Well. You have to find it, or your whole life's going to be miserable." He huffed and stood up. Finally. "Best to leave you to your writing now. Goodbyes and many times over... hello and goodbye." Then he left me musing about my fate.

The story and the song.

How can happiness be found only through the path of such a thin pen-drawn line? The misery of the storyteller and the bard remains.

Best to start writing then.

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