THERE’S nothing quite like the sun filling up one’s room to make even a mass murderer believe in starting anew.
Waking up awhile ago, I had this eureka moment. Today is the 29th day I have been eating slaughtered pigs.
If she could hear me, my mother would consider my choice of adjective a bit self-indulgent. Right now, she and I are glumly sharing a slice of tuna ham, she to clean up her act before her January check-up and I, to sop up the trail of lard revealing my crimes.
But if I were to strictly follow the code of standards binding all journalists to unalloyed truth, I should even further point out that my mother and I have not desisted at all from our rampage of the past days.
After all, this tuna, once a free citizen swimming in God’s glinting sea, was tricked and captured, drowned in flavored brine, and processed beyond recognition to land on our plate, a greaseless peace offering for my mother’s doctor’s late lamented diet instructions and in my case, my remorseless mass-murdering sensibilities.
Why does the placatory taste always like sawdust?
Let me make that into freshly shaved sawdust, garlanded with curls of premeditation and a sprig of malice. For I do admit that months before the December countdown even began, I already hid behind four layers of tomes my boys’ much-watched copy of Babe: The Movie.
Is there anything more seriously skewered than my schizophrenia? One moment, I am vigorously wiping at my leaking tear ducts while cheering on the porker-who-wouldn’t-fit, saved from being turned into a cured leg of ham by a phenomenal gift of empathy and shepherding abilities.
The next moment, I am offering my plate to a man with a knife, following my explicit instructions to break off ribs, scoop out some lemongrass-scented stomach, and carve out triangles of skin and fat-marbled meat from a victim who never knew me or entertained a single evil thought against my family.
(About to leave the lechon table, I spot a long-missed cousin and make small talk, guessing how many so-and-so months to breed a specimen that will fetch so-and-so thousands during the merry spitting months. All the while, the subject of our conversation can do nothing but bite its scorched tongue, stuffed halfway down its throat by a holiday apple.)
Perhaps like that of the bludgeoner Raskolnikov in Dostoyevksy’s Crime and Punishment, clogged consciences deliver the noisiest, most useless soliloquies. Or is the holiday chitchat just too loud for me to hear the erratic skipping of my overworked heart?
I am inclined to blame the hallucination-inducing lures of lemongrass and star anise (the secret ingredients of centuries of lechon makers) for somehow dulling my sense of outrage. It was not the pricking of conscience but curiosity that made me take careful count of the pale carcasses awaiting their turn at the charcoal pit of this popular lechon maker along Basak Road in Lapu-Lapu. The day before Christmas topped the mark: 30 of Those-Formerly-Known-As-Pigs ready for delivery by noon, with another 40 ready for demolition by 4 p.m. (In contrast, business was slow for the lechon maker’s next-door neighbor, a funeral parlor.)
In contrast, scores of freezers in many groceries in the city had a marked vacuum where used to be the legs of ham and balls of extenders-disguised-as-ham. With all these unavenged souls floating around, will the balance in the cosmos somehow not be upset?
I had my answer when I woke up today. There will always be a morning after to greet even mass murderers. We are One is the cosmic justice restoring balance.
I have no choice but to listen when it is my 42-year-old knees speaking with a twinge here, and an ache there, almost as if phantom snouts were nibbling, unseen.
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*Publish in Sun.Star Cebu’s Dec. 30, 2007