Ue o muite arukou (I look up when I’m walking)
Namida ga kobore nainoyouni (To stop my tears from falling)
Omoidasu harunohi (Remembering the spring)
Hitoribotchi no yoru (On this lonely night)*
* * *
I remember it like it was yesterday, although it happened all of three years ago. A flash of lightning, a clap of thunder, and from a short distance away, the violent patter of hailstones. I took off my glasses and put them in the inside pocket of my trench coat. Never mind that awful episode of vertigo that I went through back then, as my cane slipped and slithered along the pavement as the hail pelted me from everywhere. A minute later, the ice warmed up and turned to rain. I continued walking along drenched; a broken man with a walking stick, punishing himself for a heart he never meant to break.
I looked up to the skies and felt the familiar sting of salty tears in my eyes, like I was literally and figuratively rubbing salt on my own wounds. By the time I got to the woods, the needles from the pine trees were dense enough to act as a decent shade. Dense enough for my dense self to take my phone out of my pocket and read that text message over and over again…
“Kung inipon ko lahat ng luha ko sa iyo, babaha.”
With that, the rain stopped. The puddles near my rain-soaked boots showed a glimmer of sunshine from up above. I propped myself up with the cane, and went on my way. My wet hair hung over my face, the long locks concealing my eyes reddened from the tears I’ve tried to hide. There was nothing to do but move on, slowly but surely, knowing that the summer’s worst rain was over.
I’ve always hated summer rains.
What I ever did to break her heart was something I never really knew. Indifference, perhaps, or downright stupidity; it was as if a fault was born with me to begin with. A sort of original sin. I think that’s the problem when you have common friends, when you live in such a small place, when you have each other’s number. I’ve kept tabs on the number of times we talked, and how long we have talked. The longest were those text messages that went over and over to the dead of the night, quarrelling over what I felt, what she felt, and how much longer I would stay awake to fight over a love that was never there in the first place.
What was there? A couple of minutes under the shade of a tree, a few minutes alone at the office, a few seconds at school where even her most cheerful beaming hi’s and hello’s would be met with a quick, almost paranoic glance. There was nothing there except pink teddy bears and gifts of roses, or mumbled lectures to help her with schoolwork. There was nothing there except that, at the stroke of midnight, she’d text back: “Leave me alone, I don’t want to talk to you anymore. Go away.”
So I went away, and granted her the only wish and expectation she had of me. Until everyone else told me I broke her heart out of some stupid mistake: that she was there for me when I needed her, but I always turned her away, thinking I could deal with it on my own. While I did, I only managed to break every vein in her heart when I said it. Someone had to tell me what I told her just once in my life:
“Leave me alone, I don’t want to talk to you anymore. Go away.”
Give yourself a chance, she kept on repeating. It was as if it was a timely, consistent reminder that I’ll only end up punishing myself if I kept convincing myself that I love her. Perhaps it’s because I never held her hand, that the closest thing we ever had save for text messages were hurried dinners with friends, embraces exchanged on Christmas and Valentine’s Day. I had to back off when I was told she had a boyfriend, maybe because it was too long and too tiring for her to wait for me to pull off something so perfect… something worth remembering. She could have been that chance, yet I screwed that one chance up.
I think that she has probably forgotten about all that now, if she’s reminded of those memories of summer. I doubt if she still has a faint recollection of how much was given up in a fight for a love that’s not meant – that was never meant – to be. I think she’ll remember me more of a close friend and occasional confidant than as – at least at one point in our lives – the significant other who wasn’t, the boyfriend who never was. The kind of “accept-me-for-who-I-am” guy who, even in the name of love, simply won’t change.
Three years later, we have moved on with our lives. There really is no other reason for me to write this other than bad memories brought about by summer rains. There’s nothing to talk about except chismis, or interesting things going on, how has it been all these years. The only exception is that it never has to happen during summer, and it never has to happen while it rains. Until then, I guess it’s dewa sono uchi ni.
I guess there’s a reason why I’ll always hate summer rains.
Shiwase wa kumo wo ueni (Happiness lies above the clouds)
Shiwase wa sora wo ueni… (Happiness lies across the sky…)
Kanashimi wa hosino kageni (Sadness hides behind the stars)
Kanashimi wa tsukino kageni. (Sadness lurks in the shadow of the Moon.)
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* – From “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto