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O Perfect Day

A report I did for our CL150 class (Philippine Literature in English) is on "O Perfect Day" by Estrella Alfon. In a nutshell, it's about Bebe and her struggle to write about happy moments, a particular summer day in particular. Her friend Inday's sister comes home from Manila, and it becomes a reunion of sorts for family and friends as they fetch her at the terminal. Bebe narrates the events of that day - the teenagers singing on the bus, boys teasing the girls, girls laughing at the boys, dancing at the living room after getting home, eating a hearty lunch, going to a picnic by the river later in the afternoon, feelings admitted, feelings unreturned - a lot of things, really, one that you would expect of a youthful rural summer.

But in small doses, there is a glimpse of Bebe's fears amidst all the glee: both of writing about this perfect day, and about all this perfection in general. The first one, which allows the piece to be metafictional in a way, is actually the impetus for the entire story. When a friend of hers points out that she can never write a happy story because all her other works are mostly sad and depressing, Bebe is challenged. Because she did enjoy everything they did and considers them cheerful enough to be remembered in a story, she tries to recount them for a friend (Inday's sister) to whom she seems like she is writing a letter. This explains the overwhelming detail and her conscious effort to write as many jovial anecdotes as possible.

On a deeper, more intrinsic level however is the desire to tell this story, not just to prove that she can write a happy one, but because of the acknowledgement that this perfect time in their lives is fleeting. They are almost at the prime of their adolescence - where the future gleams brightly, the opportunities are ripe, and feelings are waiting to be explored. They are all juniors and seniors in high school, presumably, and they are all at the threshold of being kids and adults. Everything that lies ahead of them is promising, yet very much uncertain. This fear is further underscored by the mention of her nightmares of drowning in a pool. Everyone else seems to be enjoying a swim, especially her other girl friends and their mothers, but she remains on the shallow end, shivering in cold fear. It may be symbolic of her reluctance and hesitation to grow up - what if she gets drowned, what she never gets out alive, what if she doesn't enjoy it? What if things don't get as perfect as this again?

Why am I talking about this?

Lately I've been having a lot of "perfect days" that are (unfortunately) being left unwritten. Or not encapsulated enough in the few words I try to do so. Much like Bebe, the urge to write about them is not just about putting my writing skills to good use, but also trying to take these pieces of my life and have them down on paper for myself and everyone else to remember by. But more imperative, I think, is my apprehension of the future too - the same reluctance to leave behind this comforting, wonderful, ideal world. How could it get any better than this, being a college senior in a prestigious university with a highly regarded course? I'm uncomfortable about this "perfection" because I know I may have to leave it. I'm on the brink of everything. This is the tipping point now, the climax. And things can only go better or downhill from here. It's inevitable.

Bebe battles out the worry by just writing ahead anyway. The very acknowledgment of her fear is, also perhaps, a way of defeating it. I should take my cue from her, I guess. So what if the story doesn't completely sum up the perfect day? So what if things are probably not going to get as good as this? At least I'd have it on paper - or on this case, online. After all, if it's as perfect as I claim it to be, then a few words should be enough. Maybe, I don't need the complete picture to relive it all anyway, just the feeling that comes with it.


All this comes after a string of conversations, dates, and random bonding moments with many friends. It's fascinating how all these are happening at this time of the year, when we're all needing the comfort from people who know us the most and people who are going through the exact same things (aka hell weeks, thesis, graduation). Over siomai, cereals, or milk teas, we just talk and laugh and remember, and it's always enough. More than enough, even. O perfect days.