but i pondered hard how i will manage after learning the status.
what will i do? where do i start? and what will i even ask?
Y and i have probably seen each other in extremely rare occasions after graduation, more than a decade ago (damn, time flies). mostly, during blockmates' weddings, reunions and a spontaneous trip in tagaytay for lunch. but thanks to social media and perhaps our bond, its always as if it was just last week. so we never had any awkward moments when we are together.
"Y!," i exclaimed but Y did not respond. i knew Y heard me. but somehow Y refused or perhaps did not have the strength to look back.
as I approached Y, my head was telling me: lift the conversation up. enter with high energy. strike a joke. make it casual. as much as possible, let Y feel its just another day.
"musta ang malandi?" (how's the flirt?)
I swore I saw the sudden change in Y's expression. by that time I am not sure whether or not I offended Y. yes, sometimes I say the most stupid things. but eventually both of us just laughed at it like the old times.
"grabe siya (you are harsh)." Y answered back.
"tara, dinner tayo! (come on, lets have dinner)" I said which Y obliged.
Y remained silent the entire time we were walking towards the restaurant; unmindful of the incoming wave of pedestrians and makati employees rushing home.
with a lowered head, Y was just staring straight right past through the sidewalk. perhaps, hoping to see and pick up anything along the way to at least start a conversation.
when we were in college, Y have always portrayed to be straight, had a number of straight relationships, been a varsity player throughout our college stay, and though Y have a number of gay peers, Y have always preferred to be surrounded with straight friends.
it was only the later part of our senior year, when Y told me that Y is also attracted with the same sex. and if Y did not admit it, i myself may have never knew.
eventually after college, Y discreetly pursued same-sex relationships and managed to remain straight in front of family, friends and even workmates. Y was so good at it that sometimes, i laughed on how clueless people were. so Y was determined to keep it that way even after knowing being HIV positive.
hence, it felt like hell when Y learned about it.
Y still remained silent even when our food arrived,
bothered, i recalled being very restless. nagging Y for confirmation of everything that was running inside my head. until i remembered a smart person once told me, that in order for you to smell the sweetest scent of a flower, you just have to wait for it to bloom.
obviously, i was stupid enough to bombard Y with so many unnecessary questions such as: do you already figure out how you get it? did you have any unprotected sex before? when was the last time you had sex? it pains me even now recalling it.
now, i realize that these questions no longer matter as they dwell from the past and do not promise any positive help for Y in the future. i realize that instead of accepting, I was actually unconsciously judging Y based on my narrowminded stigma i have with the virus.
but eventually, the conversation just naturally kicked in. then i learned that what was important that moment was just to listen. no cutting, no asking. no anything. as i will never imagine the thought process and courage Y had to take just to say what Y wanted to say. because at the end of the day, the only question that will matter is a question to myself; simply about what I can do now to people like Y who may be needing me the most.
for hours, we spent silent conversations with ourselves without realizing how late it became.
I decided to invite Y to stay over after seeing tears and uncertainties fell over my couch. i thought that it was not the best idea for Y to be alone that night. but Y insisted to go home.
when Y assured me that it will be alright, I walked Y out of the door with heavy steps. funny, how I can still vividly remember the sound of the door when Y closed it shut as if it was telling me something.
then after a few minutes, i suddenly heard hard knocks on my door. i immediately rush downstairs and opened it. it was Y, with teary eyes and breaking voice.
"I just cannot stop shaking."