London in Love

(Of Spectres): In Love in London

the United Kingdom Marga Ortigas Places Prose

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“The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts.”
          – Italo Calvino

Temporally, six months have passed.  Spatially, a dimension. The soul is in regions unfathomed – till now.  And yet, not.  I am away from Manila — and that’s all I know.

I have been asked to tell you what it’s been like — I can’t.

I can try, but every attempt will prove futile.  I can speak, but my silence will say more.  I will write, but (know that) words are masters of deception, and space is the only occasion for truth.

So, how do I lie to you and tell you what it’s been like?

Unfortunately, easy.  Too easy. I take this pen and deface the sacred blank with mute symbols even my family cannot decipher.  I can never share with them in blots and squiggles or electronic codes the flight that has been life in London.

I can tell you what you want and put together endless prose of technicolour and cinema, with close-ups of pigeons in Trafalgar Square, and a zoom-in to the tired proud face of Big Ben.

I can try to play you the symphony that trickles out of Covent Garden, and crescendos as you walk along the banks of the Thames.  The wind.  The tide.  The branches with the new buds of Spring.  The clop-clop, plickety-clop of pedestrians in dancing shoes.  The insistent drum, hum, mum of languid drunken trains.  The chime of far-away smiles… and the chatter of the gulls.

But I won’t.

Even the loud double-decked buses are lying to the tourist.  Saying things they don’t mean.
(What do they mean?)

I have been asked to tell you what it’s been like — I can’t.

Photographs are magicians, and my mirror is now shattered.  The reflection has disappeared — and that’s the truth.  “I” am not, now — and that’s the greatest gift I’ve received.

(A blank page. The silence. A friendly void.)

I am fodder in the web that leads up to the gods — and in humility, I have glimpsed some.  Pained, troubled, glorious souls playing at being men.  Clothed in names and the fiction that is identity.  They know they are illusions — and now, so do I.

I have been asked to tell you what it’s been like — I, can not.  I’ve become acquainted with loss, and lack, and love.  The human condition — its term-inality.  I could only have seen it here, through foreigner’s eyes.

I have fallen in love in London.

With the word.

With the world.

With God.

I learned the powers of a dreamer in the Philippines.  Here, I learned the powers of a dream.

How do I tell you what it’s like to wake up with the gift of wings?

I can’t.

Marga Ortigas is a media strategist with more than 25 years of experience in international broadcast journalism.

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