Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Remembering Buruwisan

It was a chilly August morning. It took me a bit of a while to realize that we were on a mountain. It is always chilly on the mountains. The music of the stream nearby reassured me we weren't in the city. As I peered through the tent vestibule, I saw my father perched upon a promontory, his chin on his knees, and staring probably at the water below or probably at the space between. He believes space is perceivable by the naked eye. He says we were born with it and we experience it every day so we take it for granted just like our own saliva, which we think is tasteless just because we taste it every day. Occasionally he would be frozen steady, gazing at the horizon obscured by foliage that shifted from purple to blue to dark green. I wondered what was on his mind at that moment. Was it mom again, or another subject for a book? He always has a subject to write. But he’s never finished any book. He would, at times, tell me bits and pieces of them though. He says those subjects are too profound to be contained in just a set of words. He treats those things as if they were sentient beings that deserve to be respected. He maintains that if you can’t perfectly put into words the ideas contained in a single event in the universe, better not verbalize it.

He turned and saw me approaching. His smile seemed to pierce me as if he was reading every detail written in my soul. I sat beside him and tried to feel what he was feeling at that moment. That’s how we always started our conversations. He believes that sometimes, it is in those moments of silence that ideas are best communicated. I tried to find the profundity of that moment assuming it was what he was doing. He always told me to do what others are doing before asking them what they are doing. But I couldn’t find anything specially profound about the sight of the running stream beside the promontory and gathering its full force before dropping into a powerful cascade off the cliff. He knew I was wondering. And then his stare guided my eyes to the single tree between the rock we were sitting on and the cliff off which the stream turns itself into a mighty waterfall. His eyes were fixed on that tree. And with a smile he said, “This reminds me”. My heightened curiosity was again trapped in another moment of silence. Knowing I was still puzzled, he continued saying, “Forty years ago on a stormy August 13, a very good friend, Jeff showed me this place. Right then and here too, my unforgettable friendship with the Kuligligs was forged.”

It was the first time he mentioned those names to me. I didn’t know for sure who they were but as he was telling me all his subsequent adventures and conquests with them, I saw my father as a boy again whose face mirrored youth full of vigor with many years ahead of him, worry-free of any physical troubles and running, bouncing and jumping off cliffs and waterfalls. But he’s old and gray now. Although he can still climb mountains his weary eyes tell me there are things he wished he could still do. At the same time, behind those tired eyes, I sense the pride and joy he felt over accomplishing those things and meeting those people who now only reside in his memory. Then he fell silent again. And he looked at me and said, “I wonder if they still remember Buruwisan?.”
Buruwisan Falls in 2006

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