It was one of those summer vacations in Iloilo. I was six and sick and grumpy. My whole family had left me at home and went to join the Holy Week tradition in Guimbal called the Bari-Bari. Everyone would be there and my six-year-old heart ached at the injustice of being left behind while everyone else was having fun.
My Lola and I were seated outside the house, beside the banana tree. I was muttering under my breath, still angry, while she sat beside me, annoyingly unflappable in her calmness. Look up, she then said, pointing towards the sky. I lifted my head and saw the magnificent array of stars studding the ink-black blanket of night. Some twinkled furiously; some just glowed on and on, bright and blinding, as though certain of its majesty. Look at what? I asked my grandmother, still trying to be sullen and difficult.
At that, she whispered. And she was pointing to the dullest, tiniest star in the sky, barely visible to the naked eye. Tired sad star. It sings to sick children, she said. Because that’s the power God gave it. God gave it the special power to sing to sick children, and no one else can hear the melody but them. Close your eyes, she prodded me. And I did.
I do not know how it happened, it could be because my fever was so high, or it could be my grandmother singing under her breath, but I remember that I heard the faintest faintest trill of a faraway voice. The star was singing and as far as I was concerned, it was singing to me. I was special and important.
I looked up at the sky tonight and remembered that story. Amidst the zigzag of electric wires, I looked for my tired faithful sad star who would sing for me. I shut myself from the sound of the city and waited. Sing, star, sing. Nothing came. And then I felt — not sadness no, perhaps, a feeling more active than sadness. A welling sense of panic. Over things slipping away. The once-retrievable becoming irretrievable; and the irretrievable taunting from afar. Sing, damn star, sing. Sing for the weathered parts of me, for all the bones that creak and the joints that falter and the organs that malfunction and the wounds I’ve picked.
Sing dear star, for every thing inside of me that bleeds and hurts.
But this time nothing came. There was still only silence. Interminable silence.