By the tragedy of other people, we get to realize our comic lives: light, airy, and one that we have no right to complain.
The missus always says: you always complain and you do not count your blessings. Live light, let light live in you.
Ha, the sermon.
And so today, with this piece, I will not complain.
I will sing peans to one thing dear to me each day: coffee.
I have had so many blessings and I have not been counting.
The missus is right in reminding me in the strongest terms possible of these blessings.
Like children who are brilliant.
And smart they can easily outsmart their parents many times over.
And it is true.
But if you have gone through so much in life, complaint is as real as taking a cup of the worst coffee in the world to perk up your day.
Or to alter your way of looking at things: the instant coffee whatever is its name.
You realize that in the midst of deprivation, the stomach can remain choosy, at best.
Ano ka, mangarap ka nang matayog, like my daughter.
She takes only Starbucks coffee, and only Starbucks coffee. She likes to sip it lazily at Marquinton down in Sumulong.
Was she a princess displaced by the Kastilas in that little queendom in Mariquina in times past?
She does not realize, of course, that Starbucks in the US of A, like the one at Katipunan Avenue, is a plain tambayan.
You realize that like your daughter, you want one of the best also for yourself.
Many times you just deny yourself that wild craving before you have to count the few dollas in your palm.
But admit it: you like your freshly brewed coffee from a corner Starbucks on Carson and Normandie on Sundays with your book on hand and that omnipresent writer's dirty journal.
Or on a better doughnut store down the road, with the tinderas speaking Cambodian English or English pronounced in a Cambodian way.
You go past Normandie to the 91 Freeway and you get the high smelling all the aroma of the world as if the highlands of Columbia or Benguet or Bukidnon or Isabela have all been transported here to make your day.
O aroma, aroma. Are you the Hills Brothers coffee on this long stretch in Normandie?
O coffee--you make my world luminous, you make my life light, so luminous and so light I can go on hoping forever, hoping for the best lotto combo to come so I can hit it right and go from there doing all these corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry, take care of the sick, give home to the homeless, give money to the penniless, hope to the hopeless, dream to the dreamless, poetry to those who live bland lives, poety to those who do not know how to be passionate with life, poetry to those who do not know the meaning of music to drive away the evil intents and purposes of men and women, and aroma to those who do not want any caffeine in their bloodstream.
I like the Lion brand, the Hawaiian kind coming from some place in Maui or Hilo.
I like it hazelnut.
Or the Bukidnon or Malaybalay mountain variety, harvested from the prayers of the Trappist.
The Benguet mountain coffee speaks of stars and moons and suns and wind and fire and earth and magnet and magic.
Like the one they harvest in Isabela, beyond the villages hamletted during the martial law regime.
Let me find the way to taking you in one gulp and taking you some more.
What is it in the mind of the ancients who discovered you?
What is it that they saw?
What is it that the early medics and the pretenders to medicine called you a drug like the cocoa?
You make me luminous.
You make me light.
Luminous and light--and then I go take the road to face the new day.
The new challenge.
The new hill to climb.
The new sea to navigate.
The new night to confront.
And the dawn to welcome.
And I have you.
Like a prayer.
Like a prayer for grace.
No matter, I have you.
A. S. Agcaoili
May 25, 2006