In Memoriam (Abes, 1996)
It being valentines day today, I decided to unearth that long lost column in a regional newspaper which I wrote in 1996 for my very dear friend Abes. As I wrote in a previous blog, my assistant at the office asked me last week what to do with a whole bag of clippings of previous columns. I have forgotten about these clippings and thought I already lost them. But well, the clippings surfaced and now I do not know what to do with them.
Requiem for Abes
WE can all feel bad about losing money to a thief, or belongings to a fire. We can all feel bad about losing a bet, or an election. Losing is always a painful experience no matter what perhaps because it makes us come to terms with the fact that in this world nothing is finite, that everything eventually comes to an end. Losing jolts us to the very sad reality that in this world, there are certain things that we can not hold a claim to forever, that everything is fleeting and temporary.
The painful thing about losing someone is that very often it comes unexpectedly, suddenly. Unless one is born a loser, losing is not something one wants to aspire or prepare for so that when it happens, one always feels that wrenching pain in the gut as if something that is a large part of us has been ripped off unceremoniously.
We feel bad about losing because in a very real sense, we simply do not lose a material thing, or a warm body. We also lose a part of ourselves. Every single possession, every experience, every single person we love or who has touched our lives - they all occupy a space in our lives. And when they are torn from us, there remains nothing but space, sometimes a wound - that is very difficult to get over.
I lost someone very dear to me recently. His name was Abes and he was my best friend. He was one of those very rare people who was born a "giver." You know, the type who would give away the shirt on his back to anyone who needs it more. He was always giving something away - things, favors, his time, his energy. He worked at the PAL cargo department, and everytime someone he knows would arrive, he would always be there to assist, even if he had been specifically told not to do so.
I am not just eulogizing - I know we have this tendency to attribute all sorts of tributes to a dead person. But this piece could only be written five weeks after his death because well, I could not do it earlier and because I did not want to indulge in oversentimentality even if as my best friend he truly deserves it.
The painful thing about losing Abes was that we lost him quite suddenly and under extremely tragic circumstances. He was a victim of man's inhumanity, of extreme viciousness and cruelty. He was a victim of a foul play; perhaps a frustrated hold up attempt, perhaps a vicious game, perhaps a vendetta. Perhaps. Nobody actually knows what happened. His wounded body was simply found one morning in a grassy knoll in the heart of Quezon City. No leads, no witnesses, nothing.
One day he was a warm, affable person. The next day he was a cold body inside a box. Just like that. It did not matter anymore that the man was barely 30 years old, that he had a bright future ahead of him at PAL, that he had just bought a house for himself and his family, that he had parents and siblings and friends whose lives would never ever be the same again without him.
The questions scream for answers. How could anyone snuff someone else's life in just a few slashes of a knife? What kind of a person offers a deaf ear to someone's plea for life? Why would anyone want to hurt someone who did not have within himself the ability to inflict harm on another human being? What kind of society is it that breeds criminals, that allows killers to hunt the streets at night for easy victims?
As in the movies, the questions merely shatter the stillness of the night. There are no answers forthcoming. At least not yet. His death is being investigated by the NBI. I do not want to think that my best friend - he with the generous and trusting heart- would end up as just another statistic in the police files.
But frankly, and sadly, there is not much to go by. He had no known enemies. There was simply no reason for him to get killed other than the fact that he was on the same road that night with someone with unspeakable evil in his heart. In the end, it is simply between him and god.
In the meantime, we grope in the dark trying to find our way around this world without Abes anymore. It is like walking up the day after the dentist pulled a molar - you go through the day trying to find the tooth where it used to be and feeling very uncomfortable in the process. In time we will all get used to the absence. The loneliness will become a part of us; perhaps no longer as painful, but it will be there. Meanwhile, we grieve for a dear friend and for everything that could be and could have been.
Goodbye my dear friend. Sleep tight.
I wrote this piece in 1996. Nothing came out of the investigation. Today, I still find myself thinking about Abes sometimes and missing him awfully. I still use a greeting for Abes as a password for some files. I truly do not want to forget him ever.