Sleep doesn’t come easy
My neighbor, well-heeled from a family legacy rooted in political fortunes, owns a stable of vehicles. I’m hardly one to cavil at his right to own luxury SUVs and a few top-of-the line sedans. But let me tell you what this beef is all about.
All his rolling conveyances are fitted with ear-splitting devices that the drivers use to announce their arrival. I’m still catching up on a much-delayed sleep when a stream of infernal honks rouses me from my slumber. If the resident guard happens to be at the gatehouse, I shrug off the vexation with a muttered curse and go back to sleep.
But when the poor sentinel is somewhere else (reposed in the maid’s quarters at the manor’s far end) as usually happens, my best-laid plan to catch precious sleep goes awry. The jerk behind the wheel presses the horn plate with the demonical speed of a teenage ninja flicking the console of a Nintendo game. I, thus, become the instant collateral damage (my place sits cheek-by-jowl to the neighborhood eminence.)
Gatekeeper, still with functional middle ear, finally hears the call of duty and dashes out to swing the portals open to King Toot.
I don’t know how my Job-like patience holds out, but I’m about ready to pull the pin of my imaginary grenade and dispatch the despoilers of my peace to kingdom come. In smithereens, for sure.
Sleep doesn’t come easy after that breach of good neighborliness, if at all. There’s more vexation to come as I discover that my niece has left a note saying she has borrowed my car for much of her morning’s concerns. Trying to feel on top of the situation, I decided to have no qualms taking the public transport to my appointment.
I hail the first jeepney that comes along for I have hardly any time to lose. With the dexterity of the heroic rescuers who burrowed through the rubble in the Negros Oriental earthquake in search of victims, I easily find a seat directly behind the driver.
In hell again
I realize I’m in hell again. The jeepney is ablare with the strains of “One Moment in Time” bleating out of Whitney Houston’s lungs so mightily my limb muscles twitch to its beat. Loud may be an understatement, deafening is right on the button. But I choose to bring it on and describe the jeepney ride as eardrum-perforating, cerebrum— macerating and, not too far-fetched, amok-inducing.
Am I sharing the trauma with others? I look down the rows and instantly discover that I’m unabashedly the odd man out.
Some are humming with Miss Houston (this was half a year before her bereavement), others softly whistling with the tune, a few are thumping their feet to the beat. Don’t ask me how I told the driver to stop at my destination. But I remember later feeling a soreness on my palm’s backside that must have come from pounding at the jeepney’s ceiling.
Now is not the best time for national self-bashing, awash as we are in corruption probes, calamities and official chicanery. But I guess it won’t harm the national pride to be told that noise—a terrible, infuriating and debilitating blight to our civilized pretensions—is a way of life that needs to go.
Noise, like trash and dynamite fishing, is rightly adjudged an ecological threat to our peace, privacy and not least, our sanity. Unfortunately, few seem bothered by the cantankerous chatter, the boisterous bagatelle and the raucous racket that surround our waking, and in my case, slumbering hours. It is noise that preempts the cadence and choreography to the lives we lead.
One moment in time
I have a friend of fascinating knowledge and boundless passions. After four years of expatriated solace, she’s back hacking it out in the corporate world with a fair measure of success. After an enslaving week of breakfast meetings, presentations, signing stacks of checks and documents, all she looks forward to is a weekend of serenity among her plants and tree-shaded garden.
It’s her one moment in time that gives her the strength and the grace to face the coming week’s daunting chores. Like her, we shall discover that in tranquility, there is a world of truth and beauty. When we banish the noise that trespasses our peaceful routines and rhythms, we shall be able to hear Whitney Houston’s songs the way they were meant to be heard and sung—softly, gently and with a streak of gentle malice.
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