Darkroom

We listened to the protracted speech on the radio. One of the professors from the faculty said that maybe things would be easier now that the government is really serious about cleaning after the mess. I didn’t say anything about the remark for my disagreement may be viewed as cynicism I feared.  In the first light we reached the circle where the police and the protesters met. At noon, the red flags were etched high against the blue sky and when the meeting ended, the colors were swallowed by the enclosed cup of darkness. Nothing stood out, but the cries and the chanting went on until it rained hard and everyone decided to go home– it was like a terrible joke.

There was a hint of resignation and a silent flavor of discontent across the room when we got back. The senior photographer has decided to proceed directly to the darkroom leaving everybody behind to ready the films to be developed and motioned at me that I should follow to calibrate the story. It wasn’t a question if I was eager to comply, so I excused myself out and went after him.

The pictures started to take shape in the water like images appearing from a tender, abandoned memory. They were vivid, and bold, and yet seemed peaceful. I envied the craftsmanship and his eye.  I asked him what it was he was hoping to get out from all of these, and he responded gently with a satisfied expression while clipping the papers to the lines “stories, just stories.”

In the courtyard through the crooked shadows of the trees I strode along to decompress before getting back to writing until the bell from the parish had rung. I was about half done with my second draft, just a few minor edits based on the featured photo we selected that night. I thought I should be able to finish before midnight, and maybe, there’d be enough time to swing by for some Chinese.

There was a girl in the main hall of the center building holding a lit candle walking with another woman, probably a year or two older. Their dresses were modest, they had grace, and their movements were subtle as if gliding on the waxed floors. They appeared to be heading to the direction of the church, yet it’s quite late but who am I to know.  She resembled someone taken from the photograph or it could just be dark that I might have imagined it– I guess I was just exhausted, I wasn’t sure.  There were a lot of things that I do not know I realized, and thought that life has a way of putting you in a very humbling place. This was my version of that, I figured I should capture it, record it, and digest as much as I could.  When they passed by me, courteous nods were exchanged. Their veils obscured the details of their faces but the sincerity brimmed through nonetheless. “There is still beauty in the dark, ‘di ba Ser?” A voice from the security guard loomed from behind. Apparently everyone from that place was infected by a rare philosophical disease. I turned to the source of this unsolicited commentary, and moved on to the main gate and lighted a cigarette.

And I wondered on, thinking about what we talked about in the darkroom. Two blocks away from the building there was an annoying honking in a traffic jam. There were kids loitering at the public sidewalks, and helicopters hovering too. I retrieved my week’s pay from my shirt pocket, unfolded the cheque and scooted to where it is brighter.

I heard my stomach give out a hallowed snarl and there was a sour taste that lingered in my mouth.

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