MAYA [CHAPTER 1: RIGOR MORTIS]

For the next chapter pages (and why I have started with this scene already), CLICK HERE.

LAST SCENE OF CHAPTER ONE: RIGOR MORTIS

SHE could have stayed that way, transfixed with memories of a long time gone, if not for a blood-curling scream that brought Maya back to the present. On instinct, her body sent her running towards the source before she could even think. Force of habit, she would later realize.

Maya’s feet brought her to a group of modern-day nomads who gathered around a wailing woman near the shore.

“Maurooo!!!” the woman cried out, cradling a lifeless man in her arms, shaking him as if trying to wake the dead. Maya wondered if he was killed right there, or killed somewhere else and later washed ashore. “Mauro, don’t leave us! What will become of us? What will become of our children?!!” the woman wailed on.

“What happened?” Maya asked the thin, gangly old man standing beside her, fighting the urge to sniff. He badly needed a bath. Then again, so did most of them around her.

“We don’t know yet. We just…” he started then stopped upon glancing at her, mild surprise registering on his face. She could tell he was wondering why an obvious ‘outsider’ like Maya would venture to such a dangerous place as theirs, a young and vulnerable girl at that.

But she was not interested in what he thought, only in what he possibly knew that could help her. “Yes?” she urged the old man to continue.

“Oh. Uh…We just got here and found him like that already, dead.”

“Would you have any idea why?”

He gave her a curious look then shrugged. “My child, this is Breakwater. In case you have not noticed, here, anything can happen any day, everyday. Bad things. This man? He might as well have been murdered before our eyes, but nobody—apart from his friends here and family—nobody would really care. Nobody cares about people like us. We’re dirt. Nobody cares about dirt, except to wipe it off.”

It was nothing Maya had not heard before and she would have uttered a sympathetic reply, but she was more interested in the corpse at the moment. Squeezing through other spectators, she was able to get closer to it. As expected, the body was already rigid and a bit bloated. Maya was disappointed to find that Mauro, indeed, was killed somewhere else and dumped into the water. It was harder to inspect that way. Murders were always harder to solve because water could not only wash bodies ashore. It could wash evidence away as well and speed up decomposition.

She looked closer. Judging by the level of decomposition, “Rigor mortis set in just days ago. He has been dead for two, maybe three days…” she thought out loud and said to no one in particular. People looked at her quizzically that Maya remembered where she was and offered a simple explanation that was half-true. “I, uh, work for the authorities so, you know, I know things like this.”

 “Oh?” the old man she spoke to earlier asked from behind. “Like SOCO?”

Barely had she answered, “Yes, like SOCO,” that everyone—save from him, the woman, and the dead—scurried away. Obviously, authorities were not welcome there, if not avoided.

He squinted his eyes at her. “You look awfully young. What are you, eighteen, twen—? ”

“—ty-five. I’m baby-faced, yes, it’s possible. I was in that SOCO show on TV one time, I guess you did not see that. Who was that guy again with the distinct guttural voice? I forget.”

“So…is that why you’re here? They sent you?”

“No. I simply happened to walk by and heard the scream, so here I am.” At least that one’s true.

“Ah, yes, that is correct. We have just found him. Anita,” the old man pointed at the crying woman who was reduced to weeping by now, “was just wondering where Mauro had gone. He was supposed to be back last Saturday after scraping rust off a ship for two months. Then someone screamed and, well, here we are…What a pity. He was a good man, always tried to earn a decent living. Not easy as around here…”

She did not let the old man’s thoughts trail off. “Has it—uh—he any marks on his body?” Her query was greeted with a confused expression. “Marks. Like, uh, bruises, or stab wounds, maybe? Anything that may explain how he died or how he was…killed…”

Parts of Mauro’s clothes were torn or with holes in different places. They could be due to blows inflicted on him before he died, or simply due to sea creatures that ate at his clothes and body (a notion Maya did not especially like entertaining in her head). Letter C, she pushed in her mind. His clothes got caught up with sharp, inanimate, floating objects, that’s it. Take those unsavory thoughts off your head!

“His heart.” It was Anita who answered in-between her weeping. She could have been pretty but at the moment, grief and agony were written all over her face. “His heart was carved out.”

The old man gasped in horror. “Diyos ko!” He did try to regain his composure. “You said you are like the SOCO people, right? Maybe you can…check his…” he half-suggested, as if wishing he had not suggested it at all.

But that was exactly what Maya had in mind. She kneeled down and asked permission. “May I?” Anita answered with a nod, mutely loosening her hold on Mauro’s upper body, allowing Maya to see the large, gaping hole on his shirt. True enough, his heart was not where it was supposed to be. “Did Mang Mauro have any enemies that could have done this?”

Anita shook her head. “I don’t know of anyone who would be angry enough to do this. I don’t think he had enemies, not really. He was a good man who hardly argued with anyone…Still, there are those who treat people here badly, so maybe…”

“Who? Can you give me their names?”

Anita did not answer and studied Maya instead, seeming to be weighing her options: to tell or not to tell. Indeed, that would be Maya’s question, too, if she lived amongst these nomads. They were always at the mercy of those in power, at least those who had power over poor, desolate souls like them.

“Let me guess,” she directed the question back to the old man, “the police?”

He stared at her for a while then with hesitation in his voice, “T-They own this place, what can we do? They…But you are not like them…?”

Maya gave him a small, reassuring smile to appease him. “You have nothing to worry about me, that I can tell you.” They, however, have a lot to answer to me, they should start worrying already.

Of course, they still looked at her with extreme doubt. She would.

Maya turned her attention back to Anita. “If you will accept, I have a suggestion.”

****************************************************************

 

*Rigor mortis– stiffening of the muscles when a person or animal dies

*SOCO. – Scene of the Crime Operatives

*“Diyos ko!”“My God!”

*Manginformal Filipino term synonymous to “Mister”

NEXT: MAYA [CHAPTER 2: DEAD AIR, Scene 1] 

 

The Blog for Mental Health Campaign

So I was reading Freshly Pressed stuff when I happened on Alice‘s interesting blog. Then going through her posts, I came upon a particularly important one: Blog for Mental Health 2013.

As she says there, “I don’t just blog about mental illness.  More like you can just kinda tell I’m nuts by reading what I write.  That’s another thing people don’t realize.  So many artists, writers, and other creative people suffer from this stuff.  I’m not sure what the connection is, but I do know that if we don’t hold out a life line, we’re going to lose some of our most gifted people, and the world will be less than.”

Here, she talks about A Canvas of the Minds, a blog with amazing campaign that has bloggers writing for people suffering from mental illness, most of them, if not all, sufferers themselves.

Blog for Mental Health 2013 campaign

This year’s badge for the Blog for Mental Health Campaign posted in the A Canvas Of The Minds blog. Copyright © Ruby Tuesday, Tallulah “Lulu” Stark and A Canvas Of The Minds

I think this is a very worthy endeavor so in my own way, I am sharing this information to you. Why don’t you read Alice’s post first then go visit the campaign’s official blog? Maybe you’ll find kindred spirits there 🙂

Resolutions for That Necessary Lifestyle Change

“In hindsight, I don’t think I did anything that substantial last year. If anything, I may have been a worse person. However, what I like about new years are the opportunities to turn a new leaf.” I should say, I did turn quite a new leaf. I think I’ve become a better person. You see? That is why New Year’s Resolutions can be helpful. People just say that they don’t have any because promises are always broken anyway. I think that is just the escapist’s P.O.V. What is wrong with trying to be a better person? At least you try. And the first step you do is to PLAN.

Back in New Year 2009, I wrote this in my Multiply blog regarding how 2008 was for me personally. I must say, this one, big-planning thing has worked out for me. But though I always liked coming up with my New Year’s Resolutions, for some reason, I unintentionally stopped by the time 2010 came into all our lives. I do have a guess why except it doesn’t really matter now, does it?

Here I am again, getting back in the Resolutions game. Why not? Like I always say, what is wrong with trying to be a better person? Isn’t that what resolutions are about? I don’t want to think of myself as a quitter; resolutions are not for quitters. You try and try until you solve a problem or issue. You resolve. You don’t resolve what’s already solved, just like you don’t fix what is not broken.

A Better Me in 2013...Copyright © J.Gi Federizo

A Better Me in 2013!!!

Okay, so what to fix in 2013? Here’s what I call “Resolutions for That Necessary Lifestyle Change”.

1. Less bad temper, more understanding, less bossy attitude. Good for the heart. Good for my heart as well as others’. These three kind of come together, for me, at least. I am less bossy now except there’s that tendency at times that I have to watch out for. Work-wise, it’s not so much of a problem. But it could be things that suddenly change my mood or catch me in a bad one, usually when others are cruel to me, others, even animals. Losing one’s cool is sooo not cool. Well, try and try and try and if I fail, try again!

2. Less unhealthy foods. Translates to (a) less fat so less red meat and eating at least white meat as alternative, (b) more fruits, veggies and fibers, (c) minimal sugar, and (d) avoidance of carcinogens as much as possible. I am winning this battle little by little so why stop?

3. More stretching and exercise! I’ve been so out-of-shape lately due to a lifestyle that was mostly beyond my control. But now I can gain back the control. More stretching and exercise when I wake up in the morning. I haven’t been doing this much since work went back the regular route in September 2012. And the reason I haven’t done this much is because I am always hurrying for work in the first place! So I guess, this is synonymous to “Fix your body clock”.

4. More sports. Yup, like going back to Muay Thai and/or continuing with the Ninjutsu class IF the teacher decides to continue the class. The problem is, I am always torn between practicing my first martial art and taking up other MAs, especially the Filipino Martial Art (FMA) a.k.a. Arnis a.k.a. Kali. It’s not like I have all the time and means (and age) in the world to do all of these. This is so typical of me, always the late bloomer…My first sport really was volleyball, but I hardly know how to actually continue with that. While badminton, well, the office went on weekly badminton sessions last year, but the drive got stale. There are talks of reviving it so we’ll see.

5. More writing. This is my first love. However, just like in most relationships, it sometimes is a roller-coaster ride except the slower speed seems to dominate. Well, I have been trying with spurts of inspiration. In fact, I have been trying too hard to inspire myself lately that made me literally sick. So what I’m trying to do now is take it on a regular speed. Well, something like that, you get the drift (do people still say drift like that???).

6. More reading. To broaden my horizon and sharpen my intellect. Gotta re-fuel the brain somehow. I have been trying these recent years to do this. There’s been some minimal improvement. I do think I can do much better than that. That’s why when I couldn’t go online last night and couldn’t sleep because I wasn’t feeling well, I actually spent the time finishing a book. There are lots of unfinished books in my shelves and even lots that have been unread for years! So this year, I’m gonna change that, so join me in crossing fingers.

7. Proper budgeting. Recent events have made this too much of a challenge. But that’s no excuse. So here’s to scrimping coupled with lots of prayers.

8. More humility. I will always remember what I wrote in my previous post.

9. More kindness. Let me be not humble right now to say I have become more kind and hope to become more so. Being kind involves Resolution #1. It means putting yourself in others’ shoes. There’s also kindness in tough love, when you’re sure that not giving in to somebody else’s wants is for his/her own good. There’s also such a thing as self-kindness — doing what benefits yourself. Do not mistake it as selfishness. It means we ought to know if something is good for us or not. We have logic. We should know when what we do is simply out of being self-centered.

10. Regain my ‘original nature’. This one is a bit harder to explain. Just leave it to me, guys.

So! Any plans for some cool changes in yourself this year? It’s never too late and it’s never wrong to be a Better You. Trust me :“He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty” (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching). Oh, and by the way, to our Chinese friends, Advance…

Chinese New Year Greeting...Copyright © J.Gi Federizo

Chinese New Year’s Day on February 9!!!

 

2012 in Retrospect and What I Learned from It

Well, it’s been almost a month after the new year started.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Greeting you guys a prosperous 2013 had not left my mind from Day 1. It was just that aside from that, I didn’t know what exactly to say. I didn’t want to delve on how lonely it was to spend the holidays without my parents. Lonely was not the way to go if I wanted to be on a rearing-for-a-much-better-year mode. And I’m still shy talking about finally changing my Facebook relationship status from single to you-know-what (see? I can’t even say it without blushing even with no one looking). This decision sat waiting for a long time for reasons I need not divulge, but we’re actually already on our way near our first year as a couple. I am just happy he was there to brighten up my holidays and steer me away from sad thoughts.

The year 2012, in retrospect and on a more personal basis, was The Best and Worst Year, so far, although I am not exactly waiting for anything much worse than The Worst. Why The Worst, I need not clarify. It’s so crystal clear.

Why The Best? Let’s focus on that.

This is an image from WordPress

2012 taught me the value of contentment because as one quote shared and re-shared on Facebook said, you will never know the real value of money until you run out of it, or something like that, only better worded. I have always known that, but 2012 really made sure I understood completely.

2012 taught me humility. I had to be humble enough to realize I needed help, to ask for it, to accept it even when I didn’t ask.

2012 told me that sometimes, you have to let go of pride. It is especially relevant if doing so will serve a higher purpose.

2012 made me kinder to people and to myself. I have become more understanding of others’ shortcomings as well as mine. I have become more accepting that it has brought me people and things that I am now thankful for.

2012 has made me accept tribulations as challenges worth facing. To emerge triumphant means learning to be more courageous and mature. Nothing teaches like experience.

This is not to say I have become perfect. Nobody becomes perfect in a year. In fact, nobody becomes perfect EVER. What I’ve learned, I still re-learn everyday. I still always remind myself 2012’s teaching especially when I am getting lost. When we get lost, isn’t it best to find our way back to where we started?

2012 started a New MeIt was not the end of the world. So 2013,

come on and bring it on!!!