Wednesday, February 23, 2005


February 14, 2005: Valentine’s Day

Tonight I speak of sadness. The way it has shaped the way I am speaks so much of how it has been present all my life. Sadness is the prelude to loneliness. It is when I feel sad that loneliness begins to eat at me. I remember the first time I felt truly sad. I was about nine years old. It has not stopped raining for five days. I cannot play and go to the mountains. The ground is soaking wet and miniature rivers are forming in the unpaved road in front of our house. There is something about the rain that touches me. There is a certain violence and at the same time gentility in the way it strikes the ground. As I sit on our windowsill watching how water seems to turn pebbles shining like gems, I am struck by the utter wretchedness the pebble must feel. To be so helpless out in the open, with no shelter from the driving rain, in my young mind I pity the small pebble. Then amazingly, I saw a lone ant slowly winding its way towards the pebble. It climbs up, seems to look both ways, then slowly climbs down. The question, “Are they talking?” comes unbidden in my mind. I remember that in the utter desolation I felt because of the rain I began to question the natural purpose of things. Questions like, “Do pebbles get lonely? Did the ant quarrel with a friend? How did the rain feel falling on the ground? Does it hurt?” race through my mind. Inexplicable sadness engulfs me for I do not know the answer to those questions. Moreover, I cannot ask anyone. My parents are busy and I only see them at night. The questions are also beyond the intellectual capacity of my yaya who is glued to the afternoon radio drama. I think about God but even he seems to be silent. Perhaps he thinks the questions too childish or too obvious to be answered. I gaze up at the dark sky as thunder rolls and I feel angry. At the rain for being so cruel, at the pebble for not striking back, at my yaya for being so selfish, and at my parents for not being there when I am sad. I did not cry, I did not shout nor curse. Yet I know the moment my soul begins to understand sadness. Sadness happens when I cannot do what I want to do. It happens when I am being treated unfairly and cannot strike back, and it happens when the person you need the most is not at your side. So at a young age the rain teaches me sadness. Everytime it rains I become sad and I can gaze at the pebbles forever. The pitter-patter of the rain is like a heartbreaking soundtrack. It is the time when I cannot even escape into my daily daydreams. I cannot even muster the excitement of climbing the mountain alone when the sun shines again. I am stuck. Like the pebble, I just let sadness engulf me. For a moment that seems like eternity I wallow in the rain. In this moment of sadness I feel so alone. Not even my dreams make sense anymore. For the rain has totally exposed me. I am helpless. There’s nothing I can do but wait for it to stop. And even when the rain finally stops, sadness has made its mark on my soul.