Friday, June 14, 2024

Living the Torpe Life



By Junelie Anthony Velonta                 


To my dearest Darlene,


The wind whispers and I am ever lonely. I’ve never ceased to remember you, even right now when my heart bleeds its last. Every time I close my eyes, I remember your beauty and, with it, the fact that you are gone. You may never return, but I pray to the heavens that you will, as I recall how sweet and loving you were, and how painful it was when I lost you. I may dabble in my own fantasy, and I may choose to live in it, but every breath I take reminds me of the reality that is you. I may stop longing for your voice, your ever loving voice, but every drop of tear I shed imposes on me the fact that you are there, somewhere, living in your paradise without me.


Have you ever looked at someone and, finding a liking to him/her, you just say “Why hope? I don’t have a chance anyway?” Have you ever admired someone who barely notices you, and not mustering enough courage within, you just look from a distance and smile to yourself whenever he/she is happy? Have you ever been devoted to someone that you have written the best literary pieces with all your effort, only to be kept hidden or, more often than not, buried together with your deepest secrets? Have you ever loved only to become afraid?

Many songs fit the lives of those in love or those that are broken-hearted, but too few are sung for the people who tend to love implicitly: the torpe. The torpe takes the most common forms, from the caring best friend to the unknown stranger. Their stories are heartbreaking tragedies in their own right and their feelings are best written in poems.


How painful is it to just watch

And rot with all your feelings intact?

But you just can’t look away

Because it would hurt even more


Unnoticed and sometimes completely left out, they are unsung heroes who do the littlest and sometimes unnoticeable things that could make anyone smile. They have the devotion and loyalty to serve and expect nothing in return save a lady or man fully blooming with their most sincere smile. They watch, lovingly and endlessly, even if it means they would hurt themselves just to see the happiness of their lives. They are, perhaps, the most unmoved by the swaying of time as their emotions flow into various forms of art which is music to the ears of the universe. They don’t look away, even when forced to, as they have mastered the pain as much as Chopin played in his Nocturne Opus 9 Number 2. Their heart moves through each note of fate as if it were their own.


How hurt can you be?

When you just blend with the background

Unnoticed and unimportant

As your heart bleeds from its deep wounds


Music sways the lives of many; even the unnoticed pianist in a grandiose restaurant has made music that has been the catalyst of great pieces of literature. The pianist himself is unimportant to the ears of many and very few recognize his existence until his music climaxes and slowly turns to a fade. Few applaud, but has the pianist even applauded himself? He plays music to fulfill the hearts of others, but has he satiated himself? Many write anonymous letters but none of them as charming and as loving than that of the works of the unknown writer, which in Filipino we jeeringly call torpe. These torpe wish to remain anonymous as a result of both will and fate. They say life is unfair, but none is as unfair to have the letter you’ve written associated to someone who is the dream boy or girl of the one you’ve devoted your talent to. These dream partners have the attributes that, sometimes, you could never even hope to have. Sometimes, you just have no other choice than to bleed.


How painstaking could it be?

To look away, only to look again

And be an ever watchful stranger

Who’s unsung and never approached


Not many people live to stay the night in the streets; some beg for a living and some have grown old and died. Imagine yourself late at night in a donut shop and right across you see a dark alleyway full of what you may call the most useless materials in the whole of the city. After you consumed half of your coffee, you see two silhouettes: that of a labor-bent old man and his grandson, both unfortunately living in the streets. Minutes later you see that the old man is blind and tired; he may not live to see the morning, worse, you have no idea how many days ago he’s had his last meal. You see the security guard is unmoved by this and so are the rest of the few people inside the shop. Will you care to give or buy them donuts, or will you be unmoved like the rest of the people? You have become the watchful stranger, and they were never approached, not until you stood up to buy them an amount of food that is equivalent of your remaining 35 pesos. You ran and hastily but most sincerely gave them the food. They are flabbergasted but grateful. You walk away and you feel the tears involuntarily flowing down your cheeks. You return the next morning but did not find the two strangers, though you see an empty plastic bag, clean and robbed of even the smallest crumbs. You cry as your heart overflowed with joy. Much like the anonymous romantic, you took great pains to provide avenues for your affection. No one else sees the phantom lover, but his every step is heroism in his own right; sacrificing what may be his for the sake of another. You were a hero, and only the likes of you will understand.

How dead can you be

When you have bled your heart out

And shed all your tears

Only to see that she is gone


When all comes to the worse, when he or she has to leave and one is left alone, are their efforts thrown to the void of forgetfulness? Sometimes, the awful truth of forgetting gets the better of most. For the torpe, this is the moment of his or her death in the eyes of the subject who has never known the identity of the ever-loyal phantom. This is the moment when all hope has purportedly left the scene, and all that’s left are misery, sorrow, and regret. The torpe has probably spent 30 minutes in the shower, crying it all out, or standing in the rain, hoping it would relieve them of their sadness. At this time of a torpe’s life, you may find him or her in the boulevard on a Sunday noon, whispering to the wind, hoping their most cherished might hear it in some form of miracle. Sometimes, one just has to rely on miracles.

The torpe life may not be the life led by many, and it may be the subject of criticism of most. Some would say that no one is truly torpe for the person they really love, but sometimes we just have to know their side of the story before we jeeringly label them as cowards. Knowing how the phantom and anonymous admirers live may be the first step knowing why there is such a person called TORPE.~



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