On falling

12 Sep

It’s on afternoons like this—when deadlines are looming overhead (don’t they always) and I’m having my first joyless cup of tea, thinking, “So, what’s next?”—that I get assailed with a familiar kind of restlessness.

And then something like this comes up in the news. I do not know this woman, which affords me a sense of detachment even as I read about her sudden death. All I know is that she’s my age, and that she fell from a building a stone’s throw away from where I am right now.

And so my restlessness is replaced with curiosity. Over my joyless cup of tea, I wonder: what prompted her to jump? All of a sudden, I recall a poem one of my professors in college wrote for Maningning Miclat upon the young poet’s death in 2000 (Miclat jumped to her death, from the fifth floor of the FEU building–the one in Recto–where she was teaching). The poem is entitled “The So Magisterial Truth of Your Fall,” and I could only recall snatches of it–a line or two, but I no longer remember what the “truth” was.


Last night, I was watching History Channel’s documentary on the 9/11 ten years ago and what struck me more than the commercial planes running head-on into those towers (probably because I’ve seen it so many times) is how people recounted the sharp, crisp sound they heard, over and over, after the planes hit the towers–the sound is akin to gunshots. They soon realized that it’s the sound of human bodies–of people who leaped to their deaths from over a hundred storeys up–crashing onto the pavement.


One of the stories I discussed in my Literature classes before was Dino Buzzati’s “The Falling Girl.” The story is about Marta, 19 years old, and in such a hurry to have the “inauguration of her life” (a ball on the ground floor), that she jumped off the peak of a skyscraper.

And so it occurs to me that this business of falling (or jumping) is a very personal matter–like in many other aspects in life, we are driven by our passions which only we could truly understand. Choosing to fall will never cease to be a mystery, because after all is said and done, we (the living) are still left chasing possibilities, grasping uncertainties, fighting against our cluelessness.


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