“WAKE UP, Mr. Writer. C’mon, Mr. James Writer, wake up lazy bones”. He peeked from his blanket then, replied, “It’s you again, Angel Gabriel. What did I do this time around? Would today be my last day? I sure do hope so…” he added with a smile.
The angel gave a hearty laugh. “There you go again wallowing in doubt and longing for Heaven. Today, you will live and practice the lesson, ‘Love keeps no record of wrongs.’ You have been given myriad gifts, and by now, we hope that you had realised that…, so, today I will take you to a realm where you will think of gifts for your family. Think of it as a gift-bucket-list for yourself, but, more importantly, for your family. You do love your family don’t you?”
“Gabriel, there is a train here. Why is there an actual moving train here? It’s amazing”. One day I will take a ride on that train, he thought to himself. Furthermore, he commented that it’s pretty cold here. So, then, he wore his light black jacket and zipped it up until his chin.
First, with excitement in his eyes, “I have to look for a really awesome red collared shirt for my older brother”. So, the writer went into a few stores. And, to his sheer delight he found one.
Then, he went to a music store, and he saw a blue acoustic guitar, and he exclaimed to himself that it would be perfect for his nephew.
“Gabriel, this realm gives me deja vu, this place reminds me of the places I used to go to when I was a teenager. Look Gabriel, that is Naga Garden Restaurant, my father always frequented that restaurant with his buddies. And, that one too, Crown Park Restaurant, that is one of the oldest restaurants in the city where I grew up. Gabriel, this place is surreal”. It is almost magical he told him.
Then, the angel told the writer, “you have to complete your gift list first and I would like you to meet people from your past and your present”.
“Gabriel my heart is bleeding yet again”. He tells that to anyone, metaphorically, to explain that he is so overwhelmed and exhausted. Gabriel told him, “okay then, I suggest you carry on and find your inner child”.
Consequently, he bought ice cream in a cup and street food. He loves to eat street food because of the mere fact that when he was young he was forbidden by his father to consume such culinary creations. He had savoured Angus beefsteak, however, Kikiam gives him the same gastronomic satisfaction. He laughed as it was a hyperbolic and ironic enigma. He elaborated to Gabriel, “what’s important is there’s something that fills the stomach”.
Penultimately, he went to Onesimus, he asked for suits that were on sale. He would only buy discounted items. The reason is that he cannot comprehend why he had to purchase costly items that he would only wear at least thrice in his lifetime. He is an introvert.
Ultimately, he went to explore the lights. He planned to buy lights for another older brother. He always teased that older brother that he has a fascination with lights. His brother is the sole reason why his world is quite bright and everything is illuminated.
“Okay Mr. Writer, your time is up, the angel said. Now you will meet people from the past and the present. Think of the time of your Baptism,” his Godfather showed up, his Godfather was beaming. He was wearing a white short sleeves semi-formal attire. He remembered that when he was a young boy after the Sunday mass whenever he saw that Godfather, he would give him a crisp brand new paper bill.
Then, he met a friend from High School. They caught up with what is going on with their lives. His friend told him that he lives uptown and is into farming trees. It was a quick conversation.
Moreover, from a distance he saw a former schoolmate. He gestured hello by raising his hand. Then, he toured the entire realm. It was explained to him that the main entrance with the most traffic is the one close to the Bus Terminal. At the second level, they halted near the entertainment venue. Lo and behold, there was a panoramic view of the highly urbanized city. It has a wide glass wall. He saw the coliseum and a Business Process Outsource building. Prior to that, he saw the Philippine Flag dancing with the wind atop a high pole.
He, quizzically, inquired the angel. “Gabriel, are you sure… well, I’m not sure. I must be dreaming. Well, I have to ask. You know, it doesn’t make sense, and I thought this is Heaven. Or again, I must be dreaming”.
Gabriel explained, “it is your community. This is where your readers go to as well. On any given day it could be a day for senior citizens, or for priests. They enjoy the cafes and love to watch the world pass by. Essentially, this is a community of all families”.
Then, Gabriel said, “look way over there. It’s the son of your publisher. Do you remember his name?” He said, “Of course I do!”
Then, the writer felt a warm fuzzy feeling. And he wanted to know the truth. What is this realm? This place? The angel motioned for him to go ask a fellow with a communication device. He surmised that he’s well-versed, so, he asked him, “Who are you, good Sir?”
“Welcome! I’m part of the team that make sure everything goes well here at The SM City Naga; from the cleaning, customer and sales service, technical and engineering departments, and then, the management,” the cheerful Manager replied.
Finally, he heaved a sigh of relief. It was a pivotal moment when the line between truth and fiction disappeared. He, gratefully, mumbled to himself, “This community is as real as it gets, thank God!” Then, he disappeared into the moon-and-star-lit-night, as he walked all the way home.