One Damsel at a Time
I once asked a friend if I should get my revenge on someone. All he told me was, “Don’t. Karma will get back at him for you.”
This friend of mine was an enigma. He looked like an open book. He was friends with everyone. He doled out his friendship like those pretty model ladies handing out fliers for the store they were working for. But I think nobody really knew him. Not even me.
He believed in karma. He used to tell me that before he did something he thought was bad he would think “Karma!” and not do it. It worked most of the time. He was a good boy in everyone’s eyes.
He lived in the city but didn’t really know the streets well. He had his usual routes on the jeepney, but the heart of the city was a mystery to him. His mother wouldn’t let him go alone into the concrete labyrinth that was Cebu City but little did she know that he was an explorer of the streets. He fed his curiosity with a talent for getting lost and calling his friends on the phone to rescue him.
I met him at a time [when I thought the leaves would never turn green again] where I was young and naive and didn’t know any better. He sat beside me in class and talked to me like we knew each other since we were kids. He talked to me about Marc, and Jose, and Louisa like I was friends with them too. I thought he was annoying but over time, I warmed to him — something I regret. Everyday I walked into class, I would gravitate to him. Color was suddenly starting to leak in from the seams. I would listen to his stories all day about his crushes, his dreams, the chores his mother would force him to do, the video game he’s playing, the Youtuber he wanted to show me, all the while I didn’t tell him a single thing about me.
Soon, like the jealous friend I was, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one he was treating this way. He had friends all over the campus from the merry little freshmen to the intimidating upperclassmen. I always wondered if he ever tired of keeping each one of his friends in check. Now, I wonder if he was truly friends with us at all [an update from 5 years later — he wasn’t].
He may have talked to us about the way he felt when How I Met Your Mother ended, but he never asked us how we felt. I didn’t mind though [at the time, and now I do and it’s the most annoying thing]. I savored the things he would tell me and stayed in my own laconic pit of silence. I was happy listening to all his stories, of the time he got lost in Colon and had to call Aaron who lived in the neighborhood to help him back to Ayala and of the time he almost fell off the moving bangka during a island hopping trip with his family. After some time, I even deluded myself that he enjoyed my listening silence as much as I enjoyed his stories. Maybe he did. I know he didn’t.
Aside from having an excessive — but universally welcomed — talkativeness, he was also undeniably oblivious. I wasn’t the only one that had slowly fallen for him. Girls had constantly thrown themselves at him but he never noticed. He thought they were just being friendly. He only had eyes for one girl, and it wasn’t me. [an update from 5 years later — he loves the attention. He seeks validation for his existence from others and it’s almost pitiful. He wears this outgoing, exuberant facade and it’s disgusting to see]
[When I met him, my life opened up. I met new people, gained new friends. I haven’t regretted a single moment. We may not end up together but he isn’t the only boy in the world.] Cheesus, this part can just throw itself away in the trash can.
[He knew I wanted to be a writer. He asked me once to be immortalized on paper by my hand. He wanted to be a hero, rescuing damsels from evil overlords plotting to rule the world one pretty lady at a time. And he was. He was my hero. One damsel at a time.] This part can go jump in a bin as well.
He talks to me about karma and yet, we sin all the same. After all these years together, as less than friends and more than strangers, I’m starting to feel that the wrong was meeting him and the karma is the dynamic of our relationship. I’m sick of looking up to him and I’m sick of always being let down. My sense of self-worth has been thrown out the window by my own hands and I want it back. He’s a wonderful human — the sun maybe — but I’m sorry, I do not want to be burned. You’re not my hero. And I refuse to be your damsel.