Friday, May 17, 2013

messages from the deep

Weeks back, I woke to a strange dream. Well, not necessarily. I roused from sleep since my bladder commanded me to flush out its content. All that I had transported to the real world was the dream.

It’s debatable. Anyone drinking efavirenz will surely recognize that vivid dreams run rampant as it is a side effect. But does efavirenz direct the dreams we manufacture in the dead of the night? I beg to differ. This dream isn't that vivid as well. It carries though metaphysical symbols that I know I have to unravel to take the meaning out of its sugarcoated layer.

I’m lying in bed in a dark, bluish room. (As in the nature of dreams, scenes could be very outlandish.) The room isn't painted blue. We've all experienced those fiery red sunsets once in a while, right? Right. It’s like that. But, the rays of the sun falling on the room are blue and a heavy curtain seems to block off much of the sunlight, that it’s both dark and bluish.

I’m in the bed but I’m wide awake. To my right, I see my hand maneuvering and arranging old, worn-out, dilapidated toys, whose paint has already peeled off due to age. I'm sitting them beside each other as one would do when he’s done playing his toys. The scene kept on repeating: the same toys, the same set, but the toys become more and more brand new as one repetition rewinds and plays again.

Then, the john called. I wanted to write down on a sheet of paper “toys” to remind myself about it but I was still groggy. Then again, the scene is so striking I knew I could recall it again even if the Sandman is still dragging me back to his lair.

I took to Google what it could be and it returned a result, and I quote:

To see or play with broken toys in your dream suggest that you are trying to make the best out of a negative situation.  (Source:

What luck! I never thought that my subconscious could point me to definitive point of my life. For starters, living with HIV isn't something that's all fancy. But I guess, with the droppings of heaven, divine interventions, and untiring prayers lifted to Padre Pio, I guess I'm being told to push on and turn the tables in my favor in spite of this—let’s give it to them as they won't understand us—damned life.

Moons back, I dreamt of someone cutting my hair. Again, I relied on Google (what authority!) to shed light on the otherwise metaphorical message. I quote once more:

If you dream your hair is being cut by someone else it is likely you are only now formulating what it is you need to do, what actions need to be taken, and you are still in the process of coming to terms with the change that needs to be made. (Source:

I'll be stingy with details. For now, the waiting is yet to be over, but the light is coming in no matter how heavy the curtain is.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

joseon's son

Sweat trickles across
your forehead
and the map at your back
reached the borders
of your sinewy column.

One step, two paces,
gray shirt, Sir.
Your powdery scent wafts.
Your eyeglasses—
Inebriating stranger.

To the Korean guy inside the gym who is physically alluring in 5-3-6-4-7 metered lines. I've had this on draft since January, I think, a month before I stopped gym. There is a bigger, more purposeful road ahead. Poetry will not be abandoned though; he's my lifelong inamorato, the third of the ménage à trois.

untitled #0505

This is a new feat. Deep in the middle of the night, during the ticking of wee hours, I wrote a decent poetry even if efavirenz is raping my nervous system. I feel drunk. I feel woozy. I feel high; but the words flow like tap.

No, not like tap. I still have to search for them. But searching for the words does not take long as I can feel them rough on my fingertips. With eyes closed, the words palpitate and jump into syllabicated thoughts. Syllabicated thoughts stacked into one verse. A verse rested on another. Until the thought came full circle, interwoven.

Efavirenz is screwing my head better than alcohol does. Well, I don't drink too much alcohol in the first place. I've never thought that that chrome-colored pill would commandeer Lady Muse and order her to sit in front of me as I write. I have to stop. I am talking gibberish. This is midnight madness.

P.S. Kids, don't try this at home.

Thinking about it the morning after, I think if you should try it, kids, do it in the comforts of your home.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

only old age

The only acceptable way for her to die is due to old age.

Thursday night. I’m feeling a bit restless and so was she. I called her out, opened both of my hands palms up and looked at her with wide eyes, shaking my head a bit; she knew the signal. Like an automaton, she pranced around the floor and searched for her Yamashita’s treasure.

She had a new ball; a toy, which was long deprived of her, that she could still vividly recall when someone asks her where it is despite it already disposed of.

“Ball!” I ordered her. She paced half-running, with her ball on her mouth, knowing next what will happen. She dropped the ball at my feet. Next thing, she was already jumping up and down.

One, two, and with a flick of my hand, I threw it across the room. She ran for it and came back triumphantly with her toy in her snout. To and fro, we repeated thrice the only exercise she got for the day.

In those fleeting moments of canine love, never did I mind the sharp claws of her front paws. Scratches and deep impressions were her souvenirs on my knees when we were playing catch; but I didn’t mind. Until she showed her bestial side and nearly snapped at my mom’s hand once when her nails were being clipped, her nails on our legs don’t hurt. The clipper was inutile from then on.

By the fourth time that I shook the ball, she didn’t respond. She just heaved and panted. A second later, she lowered down and simply stared at me with her head resting on her furry paws.

Six years of age. Time is fast. I let the ball rolled off my hand. She just followed the piece of rubber with her uninterested stare. “Ang tanda mo na,” I said.

Just when I was about to stand from my seat, I noticed a puncture on my knee. A blood was in sight.

I got up, headed for the cupboard, took out the bag of cotton balls and alcohol, and proceeded to sit on the kitchen tiles.

“Hold it for three seconds.” Then I checked the wound once more. Pat. Pat. Pat. Two more.

My sister entered by my right from the backyard. I flashed at her the cotton ball with my cleansed blood on it. As if to scare her, I slowly inched the cotton towards her shoulder, while with a gravelly voice, saying: “H-I-V-eeeeeeeeee!” Yes. I could be that gago and tarantado. Haha!

As expected, my sister brushed it aside. People around the house have long accepted what happened. Her question: “What happened?” So, I answered. Then the unexpected.

She grabbed the bag of cotton ball, took out two then squeezed out a generous amount of the disinfectant. She then motioned at my younger brother to raise our pooch by cupping his hands into the darling canine’s limbs and lift her. My sister then proceeded to wipe the dog’s front paws.

Our dog has an idiosyncrasy though. She doesn’t like anyone touching her paws. Overbearing primadonna. So my mom stood by my brother’s side and sweet-talked the little brown overweight pooch by coyly calling her name. The trick worked.

After a few wipes here and there, she was finally let down. My blood was disinfected from her paw.

What if my sister came a second late and she decided to lick her paws? Did she ever know the danger she was about to face?

And the virus I carried is scientifically called “Human.” Will it affect her canine constitution should she acquire it, anyway?

If Fate had it that I unintentionally passed onto her this invisible pirates in my blood, would she die? A slow, mortifying death? A quick one? What will it make of my conscience?

Fate decided otherwise. And as if the goddess of Bitches suddenly got wind of the ruckus, she instructed our dog to go unashamedly ungrateful over the life-saving favor done to her as she walked towards the back of the rice dispenser.

Her half disappeared. The brown thing then started to scratch the floor in her usual doggy way. She was mining a treasure no human vision can see. She dug deeper, nosier, faster. When she was done, she got out, looked at me in a manner that’s awkwardly compassionate. Her eyes spoke of an assurance that she understood that the mortal method of alcohol-wiping wasn’t enough for their genus, that she had to do her part to lessen the risk; and ultimately, that it was all right if she had to put on the extra labor of stripping away whatever bits of virus that might have had clung on her claws.

“That was some good reinforcement,” I told myself.

My failure to act as quick-wittedly as my sister hit me in a way. But I do love her. Really. I love her to incredible pieces such that I pray that the only thing that can come between her and the doggies’ version of Heaviside Layer is old age.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

conquered past?

Just how much would you want yourself to be? Would you run the risk of doing something good and great, but shelling out your serostatus to the world (and when I say "world" I mean the public at large and not just the PLHIV world)? Or would you rather keep out of the HIV radar and be complacent about your life?

The ambitious marginalia on the papers lying on the drawing table finally make sense. Should I continue to follow through, hopefully I'd be gearing up by 2014. The thing is, I don't think if my plan is a great idea since it's not going to be an easy one. It's not going to be a walk in the park or sunshiny days with the bees and butterflies.

And should things turn for the better, I don't even know if handling this life with HIV will be for the best. I know I am thinking ahead of the situation and grappling with the most pessimistic possibility my mind could ever conjure.

If situation will call for it, I may just actually throw my pithy middle finger in the air, tell them that I'm HIV positive and for all the crap they want to give, they can send it through freight in glittering gift wrap down the garbage hill.

I've been discussing this with my brother and he told me a nugget of wisdom—that sometimes, you have to let go of the greatest thing that scares you to liberate yourself from the pain which you thought you've already conquered.

Which makes me think, how did Magic Johnson reveal himself? And just why didn't Freddie Mercury do it early on in his life? Where do we draw the line between liberation and privacy? Is it an issue of personal atonement or self-preservation? What will we miss and what will we sacrifice?

I've been medicating myself with those peachy photo quotes flooding one's Facebook's news feed. You know, those prettily fonted quotes with an ethereal splash of pastel colors, saying that "you got to go through the worst to be the best" or "never let your past hinder where your future leads" or "the road to self-actualization has never been paved without worry." In a sense, they help.

But talk is cheap though. Things are easier said than done.

I've digressed too much. What is clear though is that, along the road of being a human, of existence, of living and hopefully trying to make a difference, just how much one could give and sacrifice?

And the stakes are even higher for a person with HIV. What will you protect: your dreams and the possibility of helping others, never mind if they know that you have the condition? Or your privacy and the skeleton inside your closet and the lost chance to be someone of difference?

Just how much will you aspire for?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

yingzhou district

There is a circulating photo on Facebook, whose caption reads as:

‎6-Year-Old HIV-Positive Boy
Forced to Live Alone in Rural Southwest, China

The life of a six year old, anywhere in the world should be filled with bubbles and love and comfort and caring. For poor Ah Long, an HIV carrier from Guangxi Province, China, life is difficult and extremely lonely.

Both his parents died of AIDS and the poor child is too much on his own, doing his own washing, cooking and studying. His 84-year-old grandmother has planted vegetables for him and visits frequently. She cooks for him, for him, but will not live with the child.

Everyone else in his world, including the nearby primary school has rejected him. His only friend and companion is a dog named Lao Hei.

The Welfare department has also declined to take responsibility for the little boy and the monthly allowance of 70 yuan (about $US 10) he gets form the civil bureau is nowhere near enough.

The stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in China is powerful and it is totally responsible for this poor child’s neglect.

Since the 1980s, the disease has spread from the gay population and drug users to the general population, but there is still a total lack of education, understanding and a pervasive denial that fuels the fires of hatred and discrimination.

There is hope for Ah Long as after his story as published in Chinese newspapers one couple announced publicly that they would adopt the boy.

To date, however, this is yet to happen.

Many Chinese believe that AIDS only infects immoral people.

How could a six-year-old boy be immoral?

Leaving a six year old to fend for himself; many others would consider that immoral.

This is not my first time to encounter a gripping snippet on what if feels like to be a child stricken with HIV in China.

If you are up to a heart-wrenching, then again moving and highly-acclaimed documentary, watch The Blood of Yingzhou District. This is the only documentary that up until now, I haven't finished as it weighs on me the heaviness, nay devastation, of ostracism and stigma. In some ways, I am still blessed and fortunate enough to have an understanding God, family, relatives and friends who saw right through me.