Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Romanticist


All That Jazz

Michiko Je M. Bito-on

I pulled my pen away, watching the uneven squiggles of my handwriting blemish the white expanse of the bond paper. I itched wanting to throw the unsightly writing , anticipating the raised brow I’d get from my teacher upon submission. I consoled myself, knowing content-wise, the critique paper was stellar only it was presented as a product of many sleepless nights and multi-tasking. In front of me sprawled a textbook and beside it a cup of cold champorado, half consumed. On my left was my cellphone blaring songs by Up Dharma Down and on my right was my jotter pad, an unassuming wad of paper recording the inner workings of my brain.

The last thing I wrote on the pad read, “The body owns a wisdom even the mind cannot comprehend. Perhaps, contrary to the belief that the flesh is weak, it may hold so much as the power to vent out emotions held in for far too long.”

Sight. It is not very often I get the chance to watch his broad shoulders up-close. Sometimes when he stands behind me, it’s the shadows in front of me that I watch—how our small difference in height almost creates one figure on the wall—somehow signalling my intense longing for the person. There are times though when approaching him becomes necessary. During these moments, I talk business while my eyes gaze lingeringly at his thick, glossy, ebony hair or his fingers typing away at his laptop. In even rarer moments, I steal quick glances at his unkempt visage long enough to prove a point but never too lengthy to reveal the secret I hide.

Sound. What exactly do I call the one who inspires? There must exist such a word and it must have a ring to it like the melody of his voice. He speaks with undertones only he could understand and the raspy words stay in my head like a familiar song. It takes the attention of my ears to hear him occasionally cracking his knuckles or shifting his weight on his chair. I smile to hear the slight variation of his breathing as he ponders about the matters he writes. It is as though he’s an old soul when he talks, and when he does, I stop all I do and listen to all he has to offer.

Smell. Without looking, it is easy to recognize him sitting beside me. It is his scent, the scent of clean laundry with hints of cigarette smoke and paperback books which I had grown accustomed to in the times a stay near him. Strangely enough, I wear perfume everyday that smells of sweet pea flowers and not once have I found myself revolting at the unlikely combination. It is in these moments I unknowingly find myself shooting a half-lidded gaze out the window while the assortment of fragrances bring back memories only I will ever know.

Touch. The simple brush of arm against arm, a pat on the back or a high five speaks more than what one could write on paper. To this day, I am awestruck at finding someone who understands the reverence of physical connection like I do. It was not merely the giddy sensations that run from fingertips to head that I felt when he once clasped my hand, it was the sincere intent of consolation, admiration and confidence that he selflessly offered to me when I needed it most. It almost felt too much—the passion I had withheld was almost bursting at the seams—had we not in time, let each other’s hand go.

I know I must surrender soon with the torturous state I have kept my heart in. Even so, I shall not confess with words of undying love to my innamorato like some sloppy critique paper. The flesh knows more than poetry and sentences, after all. I shoved my belongings back in my bag as I rose up to leave for my next class when he walked into the room with a polite smile on his lips, asking if I saw a book he left lying around. I was near the door when he finished asking his question. “Dear, check the drawers”, I looked over my shoulder and grinned back at him.


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