Mildi – A Vader-Like Sorrow

This is a tale centered not around a series of elaborate events that escalate to a climax but rather it hinges on a couple of syllables: Mil-di. The first syllable is a descent into the underworld of sorrow and grief and the second syllable is a flight back to the soulful skies of joy and elation. Mil is a subterranean descent into the harsh realities of existence—di is the breath above water, the spring of hope in the beauty of existence, the abode of the mischievous child shielded from the world in her guarded chamber. I know of a man who is endlessly lost inside the world carved out by this disyllabic valley.

There is something in this man’s defeated eyes—some heavy regret that has wrecked his entire being. No smile, no chuckle, not so much as a happy look. He looks like a man who visits a certain grave every day to relive plain torture. He is someone beneath a human being now—some apparition barely functioning, smothered by a great grief he cannot voice to any other soul—any soul that is except for “his Mildi”, who as far as I can tell is as much of an apparition as himself. That’s the only name on his lips. His face always seems to be in an endless loop of reliving a moment he wants to grasp but can’t. I hear his pleas of help from God. Whenever I happen to strike up a conversation with him, I catch this look of restrained agony every so often, a look crying out for help, a look that considers confiding in me before deciding to shoulder its heartbreak all by itself like always. He must have made some terrible choice that weighs on his heart in this miserable fashion. He doesn’t even walk properly—it always looks like he is dragging himself forward with his shoulders always directed toward the floor, lumbering forward to the next stop on his way to death.

Once he leaves his apartment for his daily excursion, I’m able to break in and get my hands on that parchment that he keeps working on all day and all night long, the parchment over which he groans endlessly. It reads:

Is this God’s challenge—granting her endless forgetfulness and granting me endless recollection? Jeepney versus the auto-rickshaw. Mahal kita versus meri mohabbat.        

Mildi walked past my bench and saw only a stranger again. That my heart shot down a gulp of nausea goes without saying; those eyes donning unfamiliarity pull at my insides like a rotating drill. Alas, I wanted to spring up and wrap my arms around her without losing a second as if the warmth of my hug would restore those long-lost warm memories whom I have nurtured all alone these past few years. I wanted to gaze at those owl-like eyes and restore conviction in the truth of my love through the strength of my warm smile. Yet, I regretfully knew better—I knew far too well that she would launch into a volley of insults, that she would attempt to condemn to death my affection with her self-styled gavel. But will I stop? I do not know who I am or whether I am anything at all if I remain a non-entity to my Mildi.  I sit around adoring her voice—the engine-like hum of her R’s. Even the harshest condemnation in her voice sounds like a melodious tantrum—it has the paradoxical ability to offend and rejuvenate.

That an owl-eyed girl could be my undoing seems almost comical and yet here I am in the grips of a profound sorrow. I miss her, long for her, pine for her, and yet she has blissful forgetfulness nudging her forward without a care in the world. What do I have? Nothing but my dear sorrow. I hope my sorrow has funneled away the river of her sorrows; I hope she smiles, chuckles, laughs, and smiles. Smile on, my heart and my soul. Let me long till the end of my days. Let me just remember the semicircular protrusion under your eyes.

 These days, every smile of mine is a bold-faced lie. Behind every smile the muscles controlling my face silently spasm in agony. I feel like Darth Vader marching into Padme’s grave with heavy steps and in that darkly lit chamber, I feel myself standing before and staring at an illuminated mosaic of my Mildi. Like Vader, I take off the mask of my indifference and let my agony out like a leashed puppy free to roam around.

She is my paralysis, my lifelong damnation—she is my soul, my maniacal heart. How was I to know that a human being could establish a monopoly over adorability—that a bunch of owl-like eyes could drink away every ounce of adoration my soul has to offer and then replenish it endlessly. Oh, I am surely mad! Oh, my dear Mildi—you must understand that I have tried feeding this phrase “move on” to my soul endless times almost like a medicinal syrup. And you know what happens? It spits it out almost immediately and resolves to torture me even more vehemently. My Chicken Adobo, mahal na mahal kita. I am exiled, I know. No reminders needed. Let this banished man mumble along. My memories of you stick in my throat very often. I need to see them as petals to disarm those thorns. Your adorability and your playfulness are the elixir my heart thirsts for. You will see eternal sorrow in my eyes if you ever encounter them. I am a soul without a home, so let me wear our recollections as a scarf.

Memories are thorns that demand to be seen as petals to be disarmed. Mahal kita, you Mildi of mine. Let me be the spokesperson for the best in me rather than the condemned criminal for the worst in me. Smile at me. Please. Just one smile—one playful expression to disarm my ticking heart. Don’t our memories deserve better? We both will perish but these memories will continue to exist and echo throughout the world in some faint corner. Please wave at me from afar with a smile and a playful expression, and I will die happily.

Perhaps this sorrow is a mercy. Perhaps I am to die a thousand times out of sorrow so that the final taste of death will not taste as bitter. My soul, forgive me for my indiscretions and overlook my mistakes. Continue to smile and smile and smile … I miss my little Mildi.

Your frowns will kill me—your indifference will snuff my existence out. You have my soul.

I sigh heavily, wondering how a man could be so mad.

Who is this Mildi? How did he meet this Mildi of his? How did she claim his soul?

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