Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Curse That is Tita

Call me Tita. I wasn’t born special. The weather wasn’t unusually hot nor was there a terrible storm when I arrived in this planet. My head wasn’t especially big either. I came out in a maternity hospital where a thousand mommies give birth to a thousand babies everyday.

I wasn’t born pretty, too. My skin color did not pass the standards of beauty. Even Papa had to double check if I was theirs. As it turns out, I was too dark to become one of them.

Mama had a way of reminding me of their first impression of me. She would call me names referring to black minorities. She did it even on a good day.

I knew I would not have a fair share of the spotlight looking the way I did. So I tried being funny. You don’t have to be pretty to be funny. It’s hard though—making people laugh when, sometimes, you are crying deep inside.

I wore hand-me-downs for quite a while. Until I noticed and posed a protest—a hunger strike to be exact. I could hardly talk then. Needless to say, I learned to fight for equal rights even before I learned to pronounce my words correctly.

Since I never tried to be pretty, I never wore a gown. Well, once, maybe, during my preschool graduation. I had on a white itchy gown. I guess that’s how gowns go. The prettier they are, the itchier they get. I never had a coming out party. As the fates would have it, the year when I turned 18 coincided with the year our mini-empire-that-never-was fell. It didn’t matter. Otherwise, the heavens would roll into laughter if I started pretending I was pretty.

I grew up with plenty of friends but not all of them were there forever. But I’m used to it. People come and go. Sometimes they come. Often times they go. I don’t care what they say. You don’t have to count on other people, especially not family. As long as you have yourself, you’re fine.

I never had lovers. I was Mama’s youngest daughter and tradition dictates that I take care of her with every last breath. I wonder if it’s her breath or mine. Whoever’s breath it is, it meant that I wasn’t allowed to marry. Having been sentenced of being single for eternity, I saw no point of entertaining romance. Maybe some of us are just not meant to love.

The wheels spun. Everyone moved on with their lives. Mama’s all wrinkly but I stayed the way I was—her youngest daughter. Dark. Unpretty. Single.

Sometimes I worry. Mama has me but who do I have? Who will stay with me when I am all wrinkly just like Mama?

A dark cloud hovers over my head when I think of those thoughts. But I can’t do anything about it. I can pronounce my words right but I can no longer pose a protest. I can no longer fight for equal rights. I got rid of the hand-me-downs but not being Mama’s youngest daughter.

Then I had a dream. I wasn’t Mama’s youngest daughter. I wasn’t dark. I was pretty. I wore a white gown that looked better than the one I wore during my preschool graduation. Everyone adored me. And far across the room was a man who waited for me. He adored me more than others. I paced towards him. But the more I walked to his direction, the farther the distance between us was. And then my white gown that looked better than the one I wore during my preschool graduation started to itch. I felt my skin burning. My fair face, arms and legs turned dark—toasted. Everyone laughed at me. I didn’t know what to do.

I knew it was just a nightmare.

Because when I woke up, I was Mama’s youngest daughter again. Dark. Unpretty. Single. The wheel will continue to spin and I will stay the way I was.

Not everyone will laugh, especially not me. And most of the time I wouldn’t know what to do.

And every time I wake up, I will know that it is just a nightmare.

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