By Daryl Jabil
I FEAR oblivion.
When I close my eyes to sleep every night, I always feel the fear of not waking up again the next morning. When I do something I haven’t done before, I cringe every time my baby — a poem, a short story, or even a simple smile while struggling about something — goes unnoticed. I want to matter in this world.
The Earth has been home to billions of human beings who have simply lived and died, then forgotten. Ever since I took hold of the idea that everyone dies sooner or later, I promised to myself that I shouldn’t just pass by this world achieving or contributing nothing significant and worth remembering.
Then I struggled. I was a fourth-grader when I started writing stories at the back portion of my notebooks. My nine-year-old self would then hand his notebook to his seatmate, who would let the next seatmate read it, too, until almost everybody in the class had read my tale. I remember that most of my stories before were “deconstructions” of the massacre movies I had seen with my father at home. There was blood, axes, knives, and sapping human fat and flesh in the midst of brutal killings.
My classmates read them probably because they’re different from the usual selections found in our textbooks. In my grade school story inventions, there were no inspirational tidbits, no moral lessons, no sunrays on top of the cave where I usually let them in. My stories then were indeed different. Maybe, that was why they stood out. Since then, another fear has consumed me: I fear to be ordinary, mundane, mediocre. I should be — as a child who was afraid to eventually vanish into thin air—entirely different.
In high school when we’re told to write a short story by our English teacher, it delighted me when I eventually found out that my classmates had written romantic or oddly funny short tales of teenage angst and infatuation. My teacher commended me for constructing the mother-and-son tragic story that led my way to a perfect score and recognition. My teacher then read my story to her other classes as an example.
I stood out in our high school stage plays, too, where my acting was often exaggerated and my voice extremely louder than the usual.
In college, I’ve stood out as the only Communication student of my batch that has shown inclination towards the local literary industry since our first year. I haven’t really realized this fact until now. Sometimes, I suppose, our struggle to be different from our fears goes smoothly that we can no longer notice our lives changing in the process.
I fear oblivion, but I couldn’t have found my way to becoming different and unique in my circle without it. Sometimes, our fears help us walk up to the summit of our lives if we only give them the chance.
*Daryl is the editor-in-chief of Ang Suga, the official student publication of Cebu Normal University.