Of Rough Times and Rooftops

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Day 59.


I woke up at 2AM again.


The thought that I can't even sleep for three straight hours has been bugging me for weeks now. I know times are tough these days and feelings of unease is normal, but, good heavens, I can't even remember the last time I slept at night and woke up with the sun already out.


"This is hopeless."


I got out of cluttered bed and trudged towards the kitchen, rubbing my face while bursting out a burden of sighs. Three months into community quarantine and the only routine I achieved was to wake up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep. Trust me, I've already done everything.


A lukewarm bath and a hot cup of milk. Check


Sleeping pills and meditation. Check.


Tire myself out with workout regimens. Check.


Have you ever tried slathering lemon balm on your eyelids so that it hurts like hell when you try to open your eyes? Yup, did that too. Brutal and desperate? Uh-huh. Necessary? Absolutely!


"Maybe tea would work this time."


I turned on the stove for hot water, got myself a tea bag and a ceramic mug, and headed to my comfy chair still trying to think of ways to offer me a peaceful slumber. The dawn was ghost-quiet, except for the burbling of water against the stainless steel walls of my rusted kettle. These are definite moments where serious thoughts come rushing on my quirky mind.


For some weeks I have been pondering about my life choices--whether medical school is really where I should be, or if, at my age, I should have already achieved more. But tonight, for the first time, the grim reality of the pandemic has seemingly engulfed my subconscious.


The outbreak forced me to stay in my shabby apartment in the city for a couple of months now. I wanted to go home to my family but the quarantine facilities in the province are always cramped up. My university started having online classes too, and I can't sacrifice a stable internet in my room for an uncertain connection back home. Stifling as it seems, I guess I'm stuck here for long.


"Wheeeeeeeee!"


I stood up and dragged my feet back to the raucous kettle.


But, before I can reach the stove, I felt an eerie vibe like a wolf lurking under the shadows. Like stern eyes glaring at me behind my back. I eased my hand towards the knives as I slowly turned back to see where I can strike this newfound enemy. Just beside the bedroom door I can feel an outline--I took a deep breath and...


"Oh, Scar. Hey. Did I wake you up?" I mumbled.


His eyes glared on the kettle.


"Right, the whistle. Sorry for that."


Scar slowly walked towards the kitchen and took a few gulps of water before heading back to the bedroom.


As for me, I decided I really didn't want tea. I figured I'll go get some air. So I grabbed a soda from the fridge, a bag of chips from my food stash and went up heavily to the rooftop.


Stars filled the night sky like flickering lights from an oasis pond on a desert, a promise of brightness and life amidst the harsh realities of the world. It was the vastness of the heavens, however, that captured my attention--the thought of an eternal space that brings me immense gratitude for the gift of my being and the feeling of home away from home.


I heard footsteps behind me again. This time I knew who it was.


"I really didn't mean to wake you up. Don't push me down, my mom will kill you."


Scar sat beside me and gave me an unimpressed look.


"Did you bring an umbrella when God showered us with a sense of humor?"


Stoic. Again.


I've been living with Scar for months now. He took care of the landlady downstairs before she passed away seven months ago then he decided he could move in to my unit. I didn't mind. He was not a burden to the old lady and I thought it would be fun to have a roommate. He doesn't speak much too, which is a plus, I guess. In fact, he doesn't speak at all. I haven't heard him make a sound since we first met.


The guard downstairs, told me he grew up an orphan and joined the army for a war down south. He was decorated in battle, alerting his pals about landmines and bombs. That was until the rebels ambushed and captured their troop. They slit all of their throats before leaving them to die. He said Scar and the old lady's son were the only survivors. They returned home and stayed here in the apartment. But a month after coming back, the old lady's son took his own life.


---


"I remembered the first time I was here," I muttered.


It was during the start of my second semester in medical school. I failed terribly on an exam in Anatomy and I let it all out that night under a rainy sky. I felt like DiCaprio crying my heart out for an Oscar-worthy performance until Scar approached me and gave me an emphatic look. I realized he's telling me that I'm in his designated spot. I was flustered. Then, I remembered that it was exactly a month after the old lady died.


I let out a half-hearted smile as a thought dawned on me.


"Life really puts us on rooftops, eh? A different perspective after a challenging climb. Isn't it wonderful that we have the choice to jump straight down or look up to the sky?"


Scar looked up all the way through the glimmering stars. I can almost hear him saythat whatever happens here on earth, the stars would never change.


And with a struggling, squeaky sound that melts human hearts...


...he barked.

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