Charlene P. Salaysay

Their murmurs are getting loud. A static noise kept seeping through my ears—annoying. Their movements came in a blur, time-lapsed but seemed slowed down at the same time. It was sickening, their elated smiles and untuned laughters—disgusting. I don’t understand.

I pushed back the curtain a little to the side and took a closer look thinking I was just mistaken or maybe jealous. And I refuse to convince myself that it was the latter, because it’s not or maybe I was hoping it’s not.

I was looking intently through the scrawny curtain hanging desperately on the window. Its fabric smells like mileage—bygone by days and pecked with freckles of stain which mom insists “its because the family’s untidy,” but I bet she was slipping herself out of fault again after years of laundrying with a dirt-cheap bar soap she bargained for six coins. The very same bar soap she used for the dishes, for the bath, and anywhere that suits its bubbles. 

I peeped through again the small spaces in the window, a habit I caught from my mom who spends the whole day scrimping through the tiniest hole of this semi-concrete mangled house to eavesdrop through the walls of the households next door, to gossip what our neighbours have in their plates that we don’t have and what music they were dancing to that our family just cannot do. Them. Laughs. Echoes. Shut up. I cursed. 

I draw back from the window sitting beside my study desk just the right time to check my accounts bombarded with notifications that have nothing to do with me but still finds its way to poke fun at my inferiority. Marianne added four new photos. Janelli posted a new status. Moisesah shared her story. Alfia tweeted a minute ago, and so on.

Sighs. But still, clicks. The arrow cursor glitched from that blinking I to a spiraling O. Sighs. I guess it’s acting up againôþthis scrapped up netbook, held by scotch tapes to keep the innards intact, which I inherited from my sister that she inherited from my cousin six years ago. I guess I have to wait again for it to function or maybe it’s stopping me not to pinch myself again with the word envy. I eventually got the hang of itôþof waiting that everything just functions well.

The hour-long waiting redirected me to a new tab. As I scrolled down, I was greeted with sweet joyous smiles of family pictures under the sparkling pine tree of life. There were boxes of gifts, lanes of fancy-looking desserts that I bet I have never seen let alone eaten, a family dressed in a motif of a fashion-trend outfits that I guess would have cost them only a bucketful of coins but a leaves of blue cash to us which my family never held for months now. And gifts again, and the tree. I glance back and forth from the pictures to this house who got nothing near decorations let alone the gifts and the tree. Again.

They were full of life just like the tree and I started to rationalize that having no such tree of life at our house could have meant our family’s living a screwed up life. Their faces on the photos were filled with euphoria which I should have gladly reciprocated, but I found myself disappointed because I just can’t bring myself to do so. Because seeing them fortunate and ecstatic brings the urge to question myself and my existence. It makes me doubt the odds of why I am not able to wear those badges of glorious life with me as much as them in those pictures. Because their smile means despair to me. And this despair means creeping my dejected soul with misery. And this misery, swallows my emotions, caves me into a pit that never would have they come across with, because they just live stable and full under a gingerbread house of candies while here I am cooped up to a cabin in a wood left hungry.

An aggressive smash from the outside pulled me back to my senses. A drunken man swayed its way across the threshold, crashing through the doors. It was father. I can tell without turning my back. I can tell from the strong scent of alcohol whiffing through my nose, reacting with every molecule of oxygen trying to get by in this cramped up living and/or dining area, filling up every nook and cranny here and there. It was father. I can tell from the weight of the steps, heavy, unsteady, wobbly as much as the burden he was always wearing on his back. It was father dancing like a free man in the middle of this cold night yet his uneven laughters cannot hide the depths of the worries he always had hard time sleeping away every single night. It was father escaping reality. It was the family ignoring the reality that father can no longer hold back our messed up reality. And, it was me avoiding my father’s exhausted and sunken eyes as much as possible to avoid the unfortunate reality of mine that is questionably far different than anyone else’s.

I’ve always wanted to avoid everything but this household always had that chance to slap me back to my reality, reality that It was the same thing again. The same old Christmas I had back when I was 15 that I dreamt to light a candle for a one creamy cake topped with frosting but had a loaf bread filled with peanut butter instead that I had to pretend to be the most appetizing thing there is. Back when I was 16 when I wished for a cell phone I never had until now. When I was 17 and looking forward for at least a peaceful eve but ended up with this tension and fear of this lashing alcoholic man turning our house and our family upside down. Up to when I was 18 and the years after when I wished my siblings would have at least come running outside with me when I cheered in awe after the lights pranced in the sky. But instead, ended up going back alone again in that solemn house of a dancing drunken man, peeping old lady, a bunch of killjoy siblings scrunched up in their rooms, and dim lights turned off not long ago telling me to just doze off the night away.

A long sizzle and a single boom from outside caught my attention and got my eyes fixated on the vast ocean above and that ghost living beyond that horizon-unseen but always prevailing. Bemused by the fireworks flashing this grim household, I passively heard my parents squabbling over the not-so-uncommon arguments they frequently argue to. I couldn’t figure out anything from their redundant debate except the part when my not-so-religious father preached over my mother’s defiant eyes and said “You, being like that, upsets God. We should praise and pray to God for Him to do anything we ask and give us everything we want. Act like a daughter of God,” father said jokingly to mess up with mom.

I’ve dawdled over that last two lines and this book I’m reading for the nth time that said, “Percy Jackson, son of Zeus.”. God. Zeus. Daughter. This is where it begins. A daughter of Zeus. I whispered this under my breath twice then thrice and many tries. Epiphany slipped through my parched hope that for all my existence, thirsts for a life of comfort, of luxury, of aesthetic path. All the while, I craved a taste of tasty pastries, dreamt of branded clothes and shoes, new-released gadgets, and a free pass around the world.

Then suddenly I’d be riding a yacht in Manhattan, or on the two-storey bus of London, or just a sweet fresh bicycle ride along the roads of Denmark. Then I’d be somewhere in a suite in Italy with my hands tiptoed to a hot teacup, or a famous bakery in France munching over the softness of a bunchful of bread, or a cafe along the streets of Seoul taking a shot of Ice Americano coffee. Then I’d be sitting in the rooms of prestigious schools that I want. Then I’d be posting a bunch of photos of me and my paintings to my IG or Twitter account a day and the days after with a caption I got from a series of adventures I had.

There I thought that if Zeus exists, He’d do all these for me, He’d grant all my reverie. Because He can do anything, He’s almighty. And with His might, I’ll be able to teleport from this wretched house to the peak of the world because He’d walk me across the oceans or part the waters to a pathway. He’d give me all the wealth I want to support my life, to sustain my education, to make me experience how it feels to be living just like anyone else, to make me feel what euphoria is. If Zeus exists, He’d get my soul out from this invincible abyss of desolation. He’d pull me out from this poverty-stricken mess I am duped with. He would save me. And if Zeus actually exists, then I wanna be His daughter.

Because being His daughter means I’ll have it all. Because being His beloved daughter means I’ll have the freedom, the money, and life. And having no money in this world makes you nothing but small. And being tagged as nothing means you can’t do anything at all. Ang being unable to do anything that others can do just fine would just want you to feel like dying after all. And these are all me. The nothing-but-small, the can’t-do-anything-at-all, and one who feels like dying at all.

If Zeus just exists, then I wanna be His daughter. But, I guess He does not. Because if He does, I should have never been wondering over the letters of euphoria. I should not have been lost wandering in an abyss of desolation. I would not end up as a spiteful soul who’s no longer definable in the name of salvation. If Zeus was really my Almighty Father, then I would not have felt like the one whom grief, misery, and despair, gave birth to. Because if Zeus, my Father, does exist, He would never abandon me, His beloved daughter.

But, I was mistaken, because maybe it was me who always did abandon Him. Because in our lives, we all have that Zeus whose existence was just something we made up during our most desperate and loneliest times and whose existence was just something we bury during our happiest and blessed times. Because He only exists when we desperately want to see Him, and does not exist when we no longer need his existence. We only recognize His existence whenever life throws tantrums and not when life offers smiles. His existence was just something we made up when we’re caught in our reverie, when we want an easy route of escape from reality. His existence was just something we made up to put all the blame and and our faults to Him because we can never bring ourselves to admit that all we can do was to escape rather than facing life, that all we can do was to play victim of the unfair system of life. Instead of taking a step to live our lives to the fullest, all we can do is to complain and contemplate. That’s why, we only claim to be His daughter whenever we want something from Him, when we want Him to act like an Almighty Father, then we abandon Him once we get everything and live better.

I thought that being His daughter was asking for Him to give me the life of comfort. I was wrong. Being His daughter was to trust his process and plan that He will be providing me the life He promised me, it may not be a luxurious life but a happy and blessed one. Not now but in the most unexpected times. Being His daughter is to not doubt life when adversities impedes comfort but to live every inch of our lives sincerely. Being His daughter is to appreciate our lives as much as we appreciate His existence, and that’s finally why and how I and we should want to be His daughter.

Photo credits: Illustration art by Shelby Gooden, Retrieved from