Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Christmas lanterns in our hearts

The time to recycle those dusty capiz lanterns is here. The time to remember the dead is over. It's that time of year again to celebrate life. For many, it's that time of year to forget the challenges that we encounter daily the rest of the year.

The first surprise of the season came on Halloween. My Sri Lankan roommate two decades ago arrived in the country for a visit. We last saw each other when his hair was still black and when I still weighed 110 lbs. It has been a long time indeed.

The two hours we shared anecdotes about our life were not enough. It was not even enough to finish the mud pie at the newly opened Bubba Gump restaurant at Trinoma. We still remember those days when the only place we could go to on weekends was SM North Edsa.

Rohan lived in a remote village in Sri Lanka, “where there was no chapel, no convent, no place to stay,” after his ordination to the priesthood in 1992. There were no regrets, however, he said.

I believe him. There was still that glow in his eyes, a look that one can only find in a child’s innocent stare or in a holy man’s gaze that penetrates one’s soul, a look that I might once had when I still went to mass daily and wore a sotana on Sundays.

Rohan brought me a shirt – a gift from his country. The best gift, however, was the slap on the back that I used to hate when we were still together almost 20 years ago. I still hate it when he does it. I still have to punch him, as I used to do, to get even.

One thing I realized was we didn’t even talk that much as we shared a dinner of shrimps. There seems to be no need for talk, for stories. It seems we’ve never really parted ways. It seems only yesterday when we last teased each other about the future. We didn’t know then what would happen to us. We still don’t know now what awaits us.

We went our separate ways many years ago as we did after a dinner of shrimps and after posing for pictures outside the restaurant and in front of a man-made spring inside the Trinoma several days ago. We will go and live our separate lives. We will pursue whatever dreams we have. One thing that’s certain though is that we will continue to be brothers. And it’s always Christmas when we meet.

There might be no need to recycle old capiz lanterns anymore to remember Christmas. The thought of a brother that never forgets, a loved one that remains true to oneself, even a dream that never fades, are lanterns that live in one’s heart, where Christmas is always celebrated every day of the year.