Looking back, I could say we were never really close as cousins. You came by our house quite often then, and being younger than you were, I enjoyed things you didn't. You had your own, weird world that I had trouble penetrating in. You were meek and mysterious, I was observant and loud. You read books while I played under the sun. You asked me a lot of questions I never had answers to. You lived in a world surrounded by books, constant txt messages, intelligence and endless streams of tv shows, while I sat behind your back reading English books, playing with my siblings, eating what was left over the fridge or just plainly ignoring you. I was that person. I had always found myself the lesser guy between us two. You were intelligent, I was average. You always had questions to ask, I never had answers. You were ready for the world, I was naive. We were cousins, but we never were the best of friends.
The moment you finally talked to me in an unusual fashion was when the time I asked you to take that ride with me going to the city. I was there, behind the wheel, and you lounged comfortably beside me, speaking in a language new to me. You stripped me off my ignorance and silence. You dared me to talk. And so I did. And it was one of the most intelligent conversations I had for years. And I never thought it would happen in a one-hour car ride. It was sheer madness how you confronted me, yet pure brilliance the way you made me do the same. That happened a couple of days before you went back to Manila. And I thought that was it. I thought our conversations had come to an end. I never cared, nor did you.
Until last night. You talked to me again.
I am in a state of denial. I deny that my brother is going through a rough time. I deny that I am directly involved. I deny that I have to act. But again, you stripped me off my naivety. I faced you naked, with words coming out of my mind like bullets in a firing squad. And I never had the courage to stop.
Kuya, I had been longing to find that someone who I could talk these things to; who could understand the situation I am in and not say it's okay, because it is not. I wanted to find someone who would be as worried as I am, who is not ashamed to say that things will be going haywire because of its spontaneity, who will tell me that it is courageous to cry and be sad. You took me out of my oblivion and made me say the words I never had to courage to admit to. And for once, I sighed with relief. The problem may not addressed in the way I wanted it to be, but you being there last night made me sleep splendidly.
Last Saturday, Mama and I went to Church together and I felt some tension in the air. I had never prayed harder my entire life. I was close to tears, and when I opened my eyes, God was before me. Mama was there. And somehow, I felt peace.
Thanks, Kuya. You are my first hero this year.