You are being warned: This is a third mental version of the same piece.
As versions come, they end up in the league of the folkloric, and no version is ever the same as the others, whether the first, the in-between, or the last.
I tell you: this piece has been written from memory three times over.
This is the third time being committed on the pages of my blog, hoping that maintenance work will soon be over and that this piece is going to get published.
For twice, I had it published.
No luck, both getting lost somewhere in cyberspace.
Before you hit the view button, right after editing so your firstborn will not mock you for publishing a half-started/half-finished blog, the whole piece disappears as if some Houdini is playing some tricks on you.
So, like Toer and others who wrote mentally, with Toer writing mentally from his prison cell and with fellow inmates as his first-ever horde of critics and universal and particular readers, I rewrote this piece mentally, with the page of this blog as my mute witness and mute reader and mute critic.
I hope, of course, that the firstborn will get to read this, deconstruct it, and deny the validy of caffeine as an antioxidant to make the body and mind agile.
It is about the exile of coffee, the Colombian coffee, the one bean that perks up your sorrowful day, makes you drive away the evil thoughts of forgetting your dream of becoming one great Filipino novelist, ahem, ahem, and just do your present lowly job so you can expect, surely, a meager wage at the end of the day, but which job you have promised yourself you will get to write about the eternal mercies of the spirit of God to all migrants and immigrants.
And that book you have promised yourself to write will have all your stories you gather each night that you go home to rest your tired bones and body, your tired mind and will.
This is a real field work, you remind yourself of your jobs in the past and this job now, even as you strategize your next move to tell all the relevant stories of being 'a lagalag,' the way your esteemed professor, Bien Lumbera, has called you.
You like that word from your guru, the term appropriate, and you promised yourself you will use that, that word 'lagalag,' to call your next book on migrant, exilic, diasporic, and immigrant life.
All those words and the realities in them will be in this term, that beautiful term, 'lagalag.'
From your heart and soul, you thank your guru for that word that points to a world filled with wit and wisdom precisely because you have resided in that world, domiciled in its dark rooms, and have, by the blessing of the life forces, come out alive to tell of the miraculous powers of pursuing your dream of finding America in the heart.
You prepare to brew the Colombian coffee every Columbian coffee grower has wanted to exile to Norte America for the dollars each cup promises, the currency of the Norte Americano more than the money from the Columbian mountains where cocaine is also grown, or so the reports say.
You go through the motions.
You open the can of the Colombian coffee, wishing that the beans, ground and granulated, are still there, that they have not crossed the border between giving off that morning brew aroma or denying the same of the person in need of perking up because today, today, the morning is deprived of sunlight as the weather forecaster has said so two days ago.
The person in dire need of the aromatherapeutic possibilities of the exiled Columbian coffee is no other than you.
You throw away the remnants of the old brew: the ground beans spent of their strength, mercilessly in their post-brew languor, and that paper strainer that had to be replaced as well.
The water you get from the gallon you bought at a quarter per gallon from the vendo, having become one of those who think that the tap water from the city's pipes do not add up to what the mineral water promises.
Or so you think.
You remember that that is the way they think now in the home county.
In your last visit, the gallons come every other day, in their bluish faux color of immaculateness or calm or none at all.
The mineral water comes as an added bill, capitalizing in an opportunistic entrepreneurial way on the fear of parents for the dreaded microorganisms that come from people's waste and that get into the water pipelines corroded by time and neglect and corruption of maintenance money.
You remind yourself of your sworn duty that you will have to see through your children as they come unto their own.
You need the coffee to make you bold with your resolve to perform that duty, that exiled Colombian coffee whose aroma you like best, the same aroma you think comes off from all forms of exile whether people or power, whether money or mind, whether dreams or desires.
You take your fill by filling up your mug with those words on its side: Opportunities and winners.
You think of the bright days ahead looming large and light.
A. S. Agcaoili
June 8/9, 2006