MY GOOD friend was FB Live-singing Bacharach in quarantine time, and by God, what fresh air off our claustrophobia these days. I chanced on Bacharach through covers, a late-comer of sorts. My picky phase in music, let’s say, was ambushed by “We Are The World” and that Puerto Rican boy band who swore they’re going back to the Philippines. Tito readers, please explain.
But my good friend Nelson gave us his mellifluous gruff in “Don’t Make Me Over.” The cool suave packed a Rod Stewart and a Louis Armstrong, although he could strong-arm both at any given time. In a piano bar somewhere in Mars, Nelson could be easily crooning with Dione Warwick, and it’d be a far lovelier planet.
I don’t know about the rest of the world, probably locked down by Ms. Everything or seizing their due 15 minutes of world fame via Tiktok. Hold people still, and they’ll pop out as wild as ever in mutant forms. People are born to defy confinement; psychologists call it the “’no’ complex.”
These days, though, and not to sound privileged, we’re tucked in bunkers and forced to scroll for hours on end screens and monitors. Covid-19 is also subtly devouring our living hours as interesting humans.
Over dinner, I have to indulge my mom with her cyclic inquiries about what’s going on. I have since taken the habit of scouring for news to update the mom with. She has no patience for television.
And then she asked what could possibly be happening to some people under movement restriction. Not that she sought my reply. It was probably just an appeal to conscience, to make us think the plateful in our reach was wishful thinking somewhere else.
“We’re spending taxes on those who are not paying taxes,” someone on the dinner table said. I could almost feel the dried morsel on my plate screaming the social justice notion of “Those who have less in life should have more in law,” but the stiff squid was likely the chill type. “Poor because lazy,” the fellow added.
But I understood what the lowly pusit ached to say. The simplicity made it painful. The trajectory of people’s dreams could only go as far as their work contracts go, in most cases six months. You see, it’s Endo (end of contract), that social cancer that festers on people’s ambitions and creates skeptics who distrust hard work because anyway they’re stuck in a vicious cycle.
The ones you call “pasaway” are only a handful. The thick of the polis is as quiet as the dried squid on my plate. If you look up “amelioration” in the dictionary, you’d know it means “improvement,” “to make something better,” claims that are extremely untrue on the ground. The cash aid does not really “ameliorate,” it merely keeps people afloat, like air vests in a shipwreck.
Dinner done, and from the Bluetooth speaker, my good friend was pulling another Bacharach. Ah, yes, “Say A Little Prayer.”
Crawling back to bunker, I took out a book. The one where these solid words were embedded: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”