today, after a long and tiring day at work, my aunt took a break (this was 7pm already), walked over to my table and sat herself down looking utterly exhausted. sensing a good opportunity to distract her, i casually opened up a topic for her to think about. that benign poke of mine led us to talk about almost everything under the sun, from business to world economics to office gossip to family matters. owing probably to the fact that i was not the type to let good conversation pass by, she had always been fond of talking to me. truly, even if she is buried in paperwork and have phones ringing off the hook, she would still make time to talk to me, even just briefly to tell me something totally unrelated like what LV bag she's planning to get or how to serve fresh salmon. though i may not help as much at the office yet due to my relative inexperience, i am glad that i somehow is of some assistance, even if not directly.
i excused myself to use the toilet while we were in the middle of discussing how to start a new business. as i got back, she was already back at her desk, buried in documents again. 730pm... time to go home, i told myself. i bid her goodbye, as well as my uncle who was at that time in the warehouse preparing for shipments to go out that night as well as the next morning. this is their routine 6 days a week, morning till night.... i see the fatigue in their eyes sometimes, but still they work feverishly. though my aunt is more than willing to slacken and relax a bit, my uncle having an ingrained sense of staying dutiful to his clients, can't seem to release his hold of offering his best to his loyal patrons. thus as i drive off and leave them, and get home and maybe as i ready myself for bed... i am sure they are still awake working.
driving home tonight felt unusual. i was originally intending to go to timog and maybe try and get a massage, something i have not done in this country before. i have to admit, i felt rather nervous to do so since the thought of having a total stranger kneading my naked flesh felt utterly sinful, even if i knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that no hanky panky business would occur. massage parlors have had this tarnished reputation and it does concern me what people might think if i am seen going in and coming out from one. though my concerns weighed much in my head, neither of them became the reason why i finally decided to head towards manila instead of getting my muscles tenderized... i couldn't bear spending money anymore. though it was uncomfortable to be stiff and sore, i realized, it's harder to be broke.
* * * * *
the streets of QC were dark and empty at around 8pm, on route to tondo. very obvious the reason why. there were only a handful of brave establishments that were open then, generously allowing their light to flood into the darkened streets and provide breaks of life to the seemingly deadened path going home. it could have been the lonely road that prompted my melancholy, the empty streets reminding me of my present existence. in the silence of my travel, my phone quiet, my drive steady, i found myself pondering about my solitude again, asking if this is really all that i have left, all that i have to live for? i don't really understand what happened that made me suddenly feel what i felt, but despite the unsavory turn of my day, it was a peaceful drive nonetheless. i thought of people and wondered how they were doing. i tried to examine my heart and see how it was coping. i revisited memories and many items in my past, back when my life was simple, and wished if it were only possible to have maintained that kind of living. i also wished i could just stop, park my car at the road, get off, and walk these dark empty streets, thinking that by just stepping into these desolate urban corridors, that i have made it less lonely. indeed, the presence of one is more than enough.