I wake up to the sight of many lifeless eyes, staring down at me.
Startled, I try to make sense of what I’m looking at, tracing a pair of eyeballs back to a purple giraffe face with its tongue hanging out. Just a stuffed toy, thank god.
They surround me on all sides. Next to my pillow, there’s a white, child-sized stuffed bear, its fur speckled with dust.
It’s then that I remember this isn’t my room, but a female cousin’s.
We’re at their place in Tondo, celebrating Christmas with the aunties from my mom’s side. It’s an annual tradition: every Dec. 25, we make the long drive to our grandma’s house, where she and her daughters proceed to stuff us with as much food as they can, readying us for hibernation.
While we sleep off our food coma, mom would catch up with her sisters, gossiping about work, politics, our devious housemaids, and her favorite topic: us, her children.
My ears would prick whenever I would hear my name mentioned. Most of it is embellished. Like I would go home late from overtime, and you won’t hear a peep out of her. But in front of her sisters, she would construct a story about how I was gallivanting with my girlfriend (“He’s always coming home late from his dates. I told him he should prioritize work, once in a while!”). One time, I came home wearing a new pair of pants, the first I bought in three years (my other pants were so old and crisp that they can stand by themselves when propped up). She nodded in approval and that was that.
Come Christmas, I am suddenly painted as a big-time spender who burns cash faster than I make it (“When will these kids learn that saving is it’s own reward?”).
Usually, I would politely enter the room and correct the story. But this time, I’m in no mood to do so. Instead, I retreated to a cousin’s room and proceeded to reflect on the year that was.
I read somewhere that if 2014 was a book, you have to make sure that the last chapter is worth reading.
I don’t know what genre my novel falls into, but the last few pages have been a bit bleak, coming from a recent break-up with a long-time girlfriend and experiencing a standstill in my career.
It’s like one of those stories where the protagonist fails in his mission and must suffer through the consequences, all the way to the end. The last twenty pages chronicles him just trying to rise from the shit-storm that resulted from his actions (incidentally, this is the kind of source material Peter Jackson needs to create a four-part trilogy. Just look at the last Hobbit movie).
Maybe I should have heeded that TV Feng Shui artist’s advice, when she said that 2014 would be a bad year for the Dragon. At least I could’ve prepared myself better. Maybe next year, I’ll be the right animal to attract cosmic luck.
2015 is almost here. And yet most of us are just starting to make sense of what just happened.