Kullat Nunu

At first I thought a rat did it.

I found out one morning that my passport, which I carefully kept in one of my bedroom drawers, was damp. I suspected some rat must have found its way inside and pissed on my passport. Gross. Against my better judgment, however, I took a sniff of the slightly moist passport, well aware that leptospirosis is often transmitted through rat urine. I’ve read in the news of a leptospirosis outbreak after a terrible flood. The survivors likely caught the disease after wading in floodwaters contaminated with rat urine. Not sure if you can acquire leptospirosis through inhalation though but leptospirosis or no, sniffing the still damp passport, I admit, was disgusting. I did it anyway to confirm my suspicion.

The passport smelled fishy. Like a day at the beach long past. Or more precisely, like some seaweed or seahorse you discover in the pocket of your swim shorts after a day at the beach. Odd.

******

“Once in a few years, a watery planet orbiting around Kullat Nunu would overlap with ours,” my grandma once told me while we were having a dinner of spaghetti bolognese one evening. She spoke as if she was reciting some fact, like the shape of the Earth is an oblate spheroid. Or that a molecule of water has two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen.

“And how, exactly, does that happen?”

“Oh, I don’t know.” She grabbed a table napkin and smeared one of its edges with a drop of tomato sauce. “Suppose this is our world…” She, then, marked the opposite edge. “…and this is that world. A fold in the space-time occurs thus bringing both worlds together,” she explained, folding the napkin in half and bringing both edges together.

I looked at her and smiled. I mean, how would you react to a statement like that? My grandma is well advanced in years and that strange rambling was probably brought about by dementia or somesuch.

******

I dreamed of a song. It was a beautiful song yet alien. The words, incoherent. It was as if it was both there and not there at the same time. As the song went on, it became more sibilant until I was jolted out of sleep by the sound of water trickling from inside my room. I got out of bed and realized that a puddle was forming on the floor. With haste, I turned the lights on and, to my bewilderment, saw that water was pouring out from one of my drawers. I pulled the drawer open and as I did so, there was a massive gush of cold, dark, briny water. My room was completely submerged in a matter of seconds.

Panic rising, I swam towards the door and tried to yank it open but it wouldn’t budge under the weight of all that water. I grabbed a chair and attempted to break the glass windows but it wasn’t of any use either.

This couldn’t possibly be happening, I thought. This couldn’t possibly be happening! I tried to convince myself that it was a dream. That I would soon wake up, sweating yet safe in my bed. But I was almost out of breath and in desperation, I searched for any way out.

Then, I heard the song once again. That otherworldly song. And this time, for some reasons, I understood. It spoke of a distant world in blue, a world all enveloped in water. It spoke of schools of bioluminescent creatures, both great and small, too strange and splendid for me to imagine. It spoke of civilizations rising and falling in the murky depths.

I closed my eyes as I remained floating, my lungs filling with water, and my mind filling with that siren song…

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crowns

they walked home
wearing
their crowns
reflecting
the streetlamps,
the headlights,
the stares
of strangers
they did not care
the street,
the night,
the world
was theirs
to rule until
they reach their
homes
discard
their crowns,
but not the fact
that briefly
they were
queens.

キラキラ

I like to think of them
as motes aloft
in afternoon
sunbeams
and not
silica and lime,
shed skin,
and soot.

I like to think of them
as alive:
pixies in dance
disenthralled
by wind and wheels
from sluggish trance,
some torpor spell.
They bathe
the city
in golden
splashes.

2015: My year in books

Here’s the list of books that I’ve read for 2015 (in the order that I read them):

  1. Hamlet (William Shakespeare)
  2. Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson)
  3. The Well of Ascension (Brandon Sanderson)
  4. The Hero of Ages (Brandon Sanderson)
  5. The Way of Kings (Brandon Sanderson)
  6. Words of Radiance (Brandon Sanderson)
  7. Clariel (Garth Nix)
  8. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (Haruki Murakami)
  9. The Eye of the World (Robert Jordan)
  10. The Great Hunt (Robert Jordan)
  11. The Dragon Reborn (Robert Jordan)
  12. Tales From Earthsea (Ursula K. Le Guin)
  13. Einstein’s Dreams (Alan Lightman)
  14. Titus Groan (Mervyn Peake)
  15. Gulp (Mary Roach)

I resolved to read fifty books for 2015 but I never got close to reading even half of it. I put the blame on Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I knew (from reviews) they were bad but I gave it a try just so I could read those that Brandon Sanderson wrote. In the end, I read up to the third book only because the books were really bad (it was a LOTR-wannabe, with neurotic characters and unnecessary plot twists). All the reading exhausted me so I decided to take a break. That, and then one of my other hobbies, drawing, began to occupy me instead.

Some months after that, I picked up Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan. It was beautiful, no doubt, but it was also weighty. Reading it was akin to plodding through the tortuous passages within Gormeghast itself. It was only a few weeks ago that I actually managed to finish it.

Anyhow, my favorites from among those I read would be:

  • Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson)
  • The Hero of Ages (Brandon Sanderson)
  • The Way of Kings (Brandon Sanderson)
  • Words of Radiance (Brandon Sanderson)

This year, I am once again taking the challenge of reading fifty books. Huzzah! I do hope I will be able to accomplish it or at least come close.

you

a shadow, a rustle,
a flutter, a crack
in the doorway.

in that tiny space,
you dance
visible
only to those who seek,
audible
only to those who listens.

in that tiny space,
the cosmos
the sublime
the infinite
you

2014: My year in books

Last year, I became friends with a guy who also enjoys reading. He introduced me to Goodreads which is a social cataloging website for booklovers. So I created an account and I participated in the yearly reading challenge. I resolved to read 25 books for 2014. Here’s the list of books that I’ve read (in the order that I read them):

  1. Prince of Thorns (Mark Lawrence)
  2. King of Thorns (Mark Lawrence)
  3. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
  4. The Orphan Master’s Son (Adam Johnson)
  5. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
  6. Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen)
  7. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Alexander McCall Smith)
  8. Tears of the Giraffe (Alexander McCall Smith)
  9. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
  10. Kafka on the Shore (Haruki Murakami)
  11. Emperor of Thorns (Mark Lawrence)
  12. Strange Tales (Rudyard Kipling)
  13. Till We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis)
  14. Abstract City (Christoph Niemann)
  15. 100 Years From Now (Steve Murrell)
  16. The Next Generation Leader (Andy Stanley)
  17. The Wandering Fire (Guy Gavriel Kay)
  18. The Darkest Road (Guy Gavriel Kay)
  19. The Great Gatsby (F.Scott Fitzgerald)

As you can see, I only listed 19 books. I have actually read 25 (perhaps a little more) but I didn’t include the others because I didn’t own a copy of those books.

My favorites from among those I read last year would be:

  • The Orphan Master’s Son (Adam Johnson)
  • Till We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis)
  • The Great Gatsby (F.Scott Fitzgerald)

For this year, I am challenging myself to read fifty books. That would be like four books a month or a book every week. And to start the year, I am reading William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. So, here’s to another year of reading!

Here’s to twelve years of blogging

I was creating a different blog and then I thought of changing this blog’s appearance. So I did and then the perfectionist part of me decided to update every entry to make sure they were all consistent in style, such as using the ellipsis character instead of three dots or using the em dash instead of triple en dashes and the like.

I’ve realized that my blog is already around twelve years old! I started blogging in 2002 using GeoCities. I moved to WordPress (long before YaHoo! scrapped GeoCities) but I migrated the posts here. I have made the old posts private but I decided just recently to make some of them visible again.

This blog used to be an online journal of sorts, an account of some mundane and some significant events of my life, with musings on various subjects here and there. At some point, the updates became intermittent and it was partly because I felt there wasn’t anything remarkable to write about. I guess, for the most part, it was because I have found different avenues to express myself. Eventually, this blog transformed into a platform for my artistic and poetic undertakings.

I have also noticed that through the years my blogroll has shrunk. Most of my friends’ blogs have remained un-updated for years. Some have simply disappeared. And yet there are a few that persist. I have developed a respect for bloggers, who, through all the years, have continued to write, to chronicle the minutiae, to ramble about random topics, despite the potential absence of readers.

After all, as Rebecca Solnit, in her book The Faraway Nearby, wrote:

Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone. Or rather writing is saying to the no one who may eventually be the reader those things one has no someone to whom to say them.

This blog is my “conversation with the absent, the faraway, the not-yet-born, the unknown and the long-gone” and hopefully, will remain so. Well, here’s to twelve years of blogging!

Coleoptera

hands clasped, as habit,
he’d wiggle his fingers:
a beetle unravelling
fragile wings
to flight

and off he flies,
hurtling through space
and stars and time
to lands known only
in his mind