They let her in quietly. She looked older than the last time he had seen her. This young woman whom he had always admired from afar, the wife and now widow of his good friend, the Supremo.
He barely recognized her when they brought her in. She was gaunt and pale and her eyes have lost their mischievous glint. Her hands shook often and when she spoke, the lilt in her voice was gone.
“Julio…” The young widow begun.
He nodded. He wanted to get out of there, to turn away from the heartbreaking sight. He thought of all the melodies he once wrote for her, the strains of lost love and wistful memories.
“Oriang…how are you? I am sorry for what happened to your son…and to the Supremo…”
She was quiet and for a moment, he thought she might cry.
“Up in the mountains, we would think of your music…the songs of the revolution, powerful, and full of hope. We hoped well for this country…”
“There is still hope…” He assured her but she cut him off.
“This revolution has killed my son and my husband. What is there for me to hope for, Julio?”
He did not question her grief. It was all she had left.
“Play for me, Julio. Just like when we were younger.” She said softly, breaking the silence.
And he did. He played the piano for her with all the fervor and pent-up longing he had kept hidden from her for years. With each note, Julio prayed it was his music that would keep the hope burning in Oriang’s heart.
Some people, when I asked them what their dreams are and what they hoped to accomplish in the next few years, they would say they want to own a house or buy a new car or travel the world. Things that are possible with hard work, perseverance, and lots and lots of luck.
I have only one dream. And while it also involves money to some extent, mine is far more intangible and for the past seven years, a dream that would probably remain… a dream until death, mine or his.
When I was younger, I never dreamed of grand things. For me, it was always something simple. I dreamed of a family like those in big portraits I would often see displayed on other people’s living rooms. Whenever I would visit homes of my relatives, I would always secretly look at their family pictures and would sometimes wonder if I stared at it long enough, I, too, would have one of my own when I grow up.
I had none of those fancy cars or mansions with swimming pools kind of dreams even then. Just a simple family portrait which when you come to think of is a summary of my whole sordid life: I will always be a sad and broken little girl fixated on Great Image photo shoots. Once during an incredibly stupid time, I admitted this failed dream and my obsession with family photographs with an ex. He laughed and even made a mockery of me by telling me his real dream was to become a ninja. Yes, I have never been a wise judge of character especially when it comes to relationships. But that’s another story, of course.
Since I am now older and wiser, I guess, I buried that dream along with several other stuff I no longer have use for: old toothbrushes, socks with missing pairs, etc. For me, it was no longer relevant. First because although I was close to having one myself, things started to get awry at the last minute and then it was gone pffffttt. Second, was because, sometimes a dream gets a bit silly when one reaches her 30’s. This was the probably the reason the ninja joke was mentioned in the first place. A subtle reminder that I should move on.
But these are dreams we are talking about here. And we are allowed to have dreams at any age. But as we ourselves change, so do our dreams. Sometimes it gets bigger, or for some people it becomes more sedate, simpler. As I grew up, this dream of mine changed too. Well, it morphed actually.
Whereas I dreamed of the whole family shebang in my younger years, I now hope for a different one. The irony of it all is that I want to break up one now, my own, if it has even been called a family at all.
I want my own life now. Away from the shadow of a marriage that I barely even remember. I want to write my name next to the surname of my father when filling out government forms. I want to tick single on my status without deceiving myself and others. I want to be able to take my daughter anywhere in the world without having to haggle for a signature. I want my own life back the same way that he already has.
Yes, and now thousands of miles away from home, this dream continues to haunt me. A wish that someday i would be able to fulfill even when the one with the family picture didn’t.