An unsolicited advice from a total stranger

Sunday. 6pm. The corrugated roofs tremble whenever the wind blows. I expect a blackout later tonight. In the meantime, I am inside the apartment lying on a mat with the dogs Chichi and Max. Max is a new addition and the story of how and why I got him is a sad one. For the first time in my life, I have many stories to tell but I’m always too sabog to write them down. Earlier while I was walking to my mother’s house an old man came up to me and said: “Wag kang matakot. Wag kang mahiya. Ayusin mo yung likod mo. Wag ganyan.” He was basically telling me to be brave and to shoulder on with dignity. Then he smiled at me and walked away. “Parang ganito,” he said, aping Robin Padilla's walk. I always get unsolicited advice from total strangers. It’s probably because I am always sulking. I am constantly being asked if I’m okay and, yes, most of the time I am not. Slowly the apartment is being enveloped in darkness. The dogs continue to sleep. I drink coffee and light a cigarette one after the other. Later I will feed the dogs and clean the house. By midnight, I bring out the beer or gin or whatever I have for that day (it has been my routine ever since the boyfriend left) and try to drink myself to sleep. But sometimes the loneliness can be overpowering that I stay up until the sun is up. But yes, as the stranger reminded me this afternoon, don’t be afraid and walk with dignity, not shame.

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