Thursday, January 19, 2012

The morbid gift and the religious leap

A thought popped in to my head.

So understandably, I groaned. Because I knew then I wouldn't get any sleep. I was trying to steal a nap before the next class, you see. To compensate my diminishing nighttime sleeping hours.

So I weighed it in, remembering that the only way to get rid of an earworm is to sing it through, to complete the whole song. And then I decided to just go ahead and follow the thought-thread.
The thought was this: if I were a gift-giving person, what kind of gift would I gift a good friend whose birthday was coming? To this, my brain responded: gift card! Practical, plus, the recipient can get what she really think she wanted, irrespective of her need.

But then there's me being vain, I wanted my gift to bear the superlative: I wanted it to be the most memorable gift she received, a most treasured present. I wanted a gift that remind her of our friendship, of secrets trusted, of ideas and courage seeded.

Damned if I could think of one. And certainly gift card wouldn't cut it.

Oh, what's that? I then vaguely recalled a recently read article which elaborated why gifting electronic for christmas is only a little more than kitschy, and the best gift is often one that opens the door to new experience. A skydiving lesson, or a dancing club membership, the article proffered*.

Now we're talking. But, still, what?

At this point I was aware that that day I have skipped Intermediate Kanji class for the... sixth time? Might as well drop it for the rest of the semester. The last time I went, I ended up browsing on my iPod and wound up in a genetic mapping. Give them your sample, and your genomic information will be sequenced. For an economical price of $100 only! And you can gift it too!

Hey, gift.

Hmmmmmaybe it would be a cool gift, opening the door to know yourself further. Knowing disease risk is almost always a good thing anyway. Ah, to hell with gift, I wanted that for myself. I'd know the risks running in my family and be healthier--not unlike Pandu's avoidance of sugars in his iced teas, perhaps.

But if I'm dying, doesn't diabetes sounds boring? I mean, yaaaawn. It afflicts millions, with no personalization. I mean if we're talking cancer, there are at least a plethora of variety that cancer brings. If you're so unlucky to get a prostate cancer, at least the colonoscopy experience should give you a couple minutes' worth of stand up comic material.

Maybe my death will be gastrointestinal. Hm, that sounds like death with a dash of personality. Afterall, I am known to polish off a jar of sambel terasi abc just in one and a half day. I think I take after my father in this regard.

What was his causa mortis? I remember him being hospitalized, and I think it was something.. related to his digestive system..? Yeah I guess if your parent died when you're young, no one really bothered to explain the cause to you. Maybe I should ask my sister, see if she remembers anything.

Death. Gone and gone. To no return, because really, what proof we have for afterlife? Or even an immortal immaterial soul? Best to have your goodbyes well and proper then. And leave no regret of words left unsaid.

And I.. never said goodbye to my grandfather. I was a thousand miles away. I could do nothing in Manila.

But it's not like I'd know what to say. I am ashamed to have to admit when he was alive under my mother's care I often flinched when I had to help her clean up his bedding. I gagged at the stale urine air. I recoiled when I had to help clothing him. Those are the reason why mom is my personal hero: she took care of him well. Certainly she sighed at times, for she was only human. But she is still awesome**, my mom.

Oddly, I then found myself seeing my grandfather in a new light: I sympathize with him. The last time I went home a month before that, there had been hushed talk of how should he be buried? My grandmother who passed away six years before was buried in Catholic custom, because she was Catholic, going to mass everyweek and the whole stuff. My grandfather, on the other hand, was once a muazzin, so I was told. However, in his final years after the stroke paralysed his right side, he was no longer a practicing muslim. That alone is not surprising, really, as being a practically non-practicing muslim is par for the course for pretty much everyone. So long as you fast at Ramadhan, go to Friday prayer, and celebrate Eid, you're as muslim as the majority. Good job at being religious! Still, efforts from my aunt to make my grandfather re-acquainted with Quran was basically fruitless. And she took it with not a little visible frustration.

Of course I was on the side who worried about the welfare of his eternal soul, I had not yet abandoned religion at that time. Didn't even crossed my mind.

Maybe I'm about to put on a similar shoes my grandfather had put on. And knowing that in the end, it's not what matters.

Fuck, it's 1.15 already? I'm going to be late for the next class.

* maybe they don't exactly suggested that, but you get the gist.
** awesome as in awe-inspiring. not awesome as in "awesome, i'll see you at seven for KFC." Unless the chicken legs are tap dancing on a table, they are not really awesome.

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