|36 Grappling With The
particularly like driving the car through the long, long corniche of the Red Sea. The
over-developed seaside, with its well-manicured boulevard and sand playgrounds and all its
weird sculptures and monuments and high-rise buildings dotting its length like ancient,
giant stones guarding the waves, gives me a calm that is almost as hallowed as those in
the Holy Mosques at Makkah and Madina....
Some days, I park the car beside the
boulevard, step out of my sandals into the pavement and, away from the hurly-burly of the
city, I climb down to the big rocks, to touch the cold sea with my bare feet and feel the
edges of a continent permeate into my bones, sinews and fibers.
It was in one of these moments, while
staring out into the sea, the wind and the sky, that I felt the stirring of my bronchitis
again, and I started toying with another egg of an idea.
What if, at 41, I become the first to
publish a book among my siblings? My brother Mehol surely will not mind.
In between its covers, I can print all the
back issues of BUGS & BYTES, my personal letters to the world, and, in one swat, smack
the world with them. I can write a prologue to it. An epilogue as well.
I can even offer a modest salutation to
the coming millennium by way of a cerebral or celestial (or whatever that you critics will
call it later) short story.
Never mind the fact that the last short
story I wrote for Focus Philippines, way back in 1980, was half numerical formula and half
alphabets. I vaguely recall that I named that story Pages, and in parting, I had
sworn then that I would not write fiction again until I could write as good as Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
After almost 20 years, have I evolved
I always knew I had a fighting chance to
become like Vonnegut. We both have the Jr. at the end of our names. That was a
good starting point.
At the office conference table in my OFW
workplace, I would often softly but firmly intone to the rest of our management team, Feedback,
feedback, gentlemen, is the
breakfast of champions. The rest of the management team would look at me and
flash their management smile and nod their management nod. Having worked with this
management team for the last ten years, I knew for a fact that nobody around the table had
read, or even knew of, Vonnegut, so it was either I was being taken up seriously or I was
not being heard at all.
When I finally decided on publishing this
book, my first resolution was: no more size 7 fonts and no more half-A4 pages. This will
be in bigger prints.
Thus the title: BUGS &
BYTES, In Bigger Prints!
It is borne out of compunction for the
inconveniences of all my readers who complained about the difficulty of reading the small
prints. Fortunately, there were only a few of them my readers, that is, and by
deductive reasoning, the complainers.
Some of their letters brought tears to my
eyes. They were done in smaller prints.
In the case of Francisco Arcellana's
letter, his fine words and lofty title redeemed his shaky chirography: Professor,
Emeritus, Francisco, Arcellana, Professor, Emeritus, hmmm.
I still remember the day I held that
letter in my hand the first time. I felt like I was being confronted by a Greek colossus,
half of his bronze body emerging out of the Red Sea, one hand reaching out for the
thunderbolts and the rumbling eggs in the clouds. Having grabbed them, the Colossus
started to aim the giant eggs at me. I cringed on the sofa. My wife noticed my
discomfiture and advised me to slow down on my coffee.
"Ill be okay", I told her.
I am, after all, your New, Overseas, Filipino, Moro, Hero from Jeddah, Tapul, Island.