At midnight I lie awake in bed, swimming in the pool of my frustrations and regrets. I swim and swim until such time that I drown, deep enough to forcefully drag myself out of that pool and toward my khaki desk drawer, where small, white oblongs that could miraculously make me sleep are stored. Sometimes these white things work, sometimes they don’t.
When they work, the pool gets slowly eclipsed by this blackness, then slowly transforms into a dream after a couple of minutes. But when they don’t, the pool grows bigger, so much so that my fears and painful memories, like gatecrashers, invite themselves to the water sans my consent.
I swim with them for hours; but I never get tired. I just swim and swim until a bright glare streams through the thin, open space between the crimson curtains covering my bedroom window, and tells me that it’s almost time to get up.
That glare always irritates me to my very core; I would sob rivers out of extreme irritation and scream, over and over again in my head, “It can’t be morning yet!” I sometimes even punch and kick the air, too, while I do all that, until my pillow vibrates and the spine-chilling tune of “The Imperial March” plays, and I am forced to answer the question: “Should I snooze this or should I shut this off?”
When I snooze my phone’s alarm clock, I stay in bed and oftentimes get sucked into that pool again. Otherwise, I get up, pour myself a cup or three of that hot, brewed drink, go to school, and face the day restless and highly caffeinated.
At school, I sit on my armchair and blankly stare at nothing. I just sit there and stare at nothing, until I fly up to the clouds of my daydreams and wander around them like a lost child.
As I wander around, I see different versions of myself: me wearing a toga, shaking the hand of some man on stage; me wearing a bikini, lying down on a long, ostrich chaise lounge and reading a good book by the beach; and me wearing a long, glittery white dress, all dolled up and slowly walking down the aisle toward the altar.
My eyes glisten as I stare at all these versions of myself, until each of them shatters like glass the moment my professor calls out my last name.
I stand up, recite, and get an 85 or lower for my mediocre, if not poor, performance. And when I’m done reciting and down on my seat again, I doodle a myriad of geometrical shapes in my notebook to appear as though I’m taking down notes. I scribble and scribble until I hear that one divine sound, the sound that every student in this world likes to hear: the school bell.
As I waltz to the tune of that bell and out of the classroom, the different versions of myself reappear in front of me. I stare at them again, wondering when these versions of me will become real, until a car or a UV or a truck honks at me for absentmindedly crossing against the light.
At 8 p.m., I arrive home. I drag my weary body toward the kitchen and force myself to exert every last bit of energy left in my body to cook dinner. When I’m done cooking and I’ve finally eaten, I tuck myself in bed with my thick, midnight-blue blanket and pray to God I fall asleep.
As I pray, the pool of my frustrations and regrets slowly creeps back into my head and tempts me to swim in it again, the same way I did the night before.
Terrified by the thought of swimming again in that pool, I stand up and walk toward my khaki desk drawer, where small, white oblongs that can miraculously make me sleep are stored.
I take two this time, and hope against all hope that these two tablets finally work — to temporarily switch off my insomnia for the night. Just for the night.
* * *
Raissa Vincena B. Juada, 19, is a fourth year political science student at Far Eastern University-Manila.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.