Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cries, Cameras and Action

Cries, Cameras and Action
-------- Majime

This camera house is quite old. The doors are rusting. Pane glasses seem like a reflection of Pasig River. I stepped in, polluted myself with a lot of chemicals… Chemicals? That I have to Google… “What chemicals do they use for films?”

Around was confetti's of Fuji, Minolta, Olympus, Canon... swaying. There are boxes of exposures, tripods, frames—side by side. People around are feasting for some rolls of films. There are bunch of people wanting an attention for their negatives. Others are hanging (passing) around. 

I entered. Swayed the door, harder than I used to. It used to be hard to open, by the way. I grabbed everyone’s attention. Like I broke an important possession.  

Then, there goes the king of this crib. Wearing the same white polo shirt he used to. Rocking like a star with his tight fit jeans. Walking like a teen with his Chuck Taylor strings. He was looking as young as 40 in his 60's then, looking at my way somewhat angry for the bang I caused the door. He painted a smile. I smiled back. He went down his throne. He gave me a special seat to his palace. Everyone looked our way. I’m not his queen. I’m not his princess. But I can be the dream, when his eyes closed, he always sees.

I'm not his daughter and his girlfriend nor his wife. But he is important to me as I am important to his. He asked me a question... 

Him: What brings you here?

Her: (Teasing him, I asked) Didn't you even miss me??

Said it quite loudly like the world belongs to me. Everyone stared. Others are gossiping. Their questions will be left unanswered.

Him: You've changed. (looking at black camera I'm embracing.)

Her: (I tried to hide it but too late.) Oh this... meet Sonya. (Sonya is my DSLR camera)

Him: Sonya. Oh, she got a name. Where's Mino? (Referring to my old manual cam)

Her: Well, he's still there.

People started to look at us deeper. Their eyes are burning.... wanting more. He's back to his first question. Angry, strong and sturdy this time.

Him: What's brings you here?

Her: I have a lot of negatives. 

Him: Where? Let my men work on it. Then, let's walk around... 

Her: Here... (I pointed on my heart and cried.)

Reading through my eyes, between the lines... he grabbed my hand. We walked out. He stopped by Milko. Bought a sugar coned ice cream with melting cheese... handed it over me. 

Him: Let it cool down for awhile. 

Her: If it freezes, can I throw it away? Will it break? Will it be gone? Will it stop?

I cried more that gave us a lot more attention from the crowd. He grabbed my hand again... walking, now brisk walking as we find our way out of Hidalgo

We went inside Quiapo church. He wiped the melted ice cream off my hand. 

Him: I saw you three years ago... (I corrected him and said four) You are holding your Minolta, asking one of my workers to teach you how to take pictures in Manual Mode. You are begging him that you need to learn it for your photography class. You waited until we closed the shop but he didn’t help you. Well, for all you know, he only knows to process the films and not take the pictures. I was so curious that time why you are very eager to learn. I volunteered to teach you. You looked shocked at first with your eyes judging me like a rapist. I explained to you that I own the shop. I showed you some of my works… my award wining works to gain some trust.

We went around Intramuros. I taught you about aperture, shutter speed, zoom, focus, negatives, etc. All the basics. You learned fast, not an expert though but quite good for a beginner. You are trying to pay me. I don't need the money. I have a lot. So, I asked you...

Him: Why do you want to learn things in manual that we are in a world of express and Adobe?

You answered me without thinking of the words coming out your mouth. Invented that you need it for your course and so on... But later on you admitted...

Her: Because I love the negatives. 

Him: Negatives? 

Her: Those rolls of films. 

Him: Oh, that. 

Her: Yeah. It gives me hope about life. They have no color but when processed they create a new view on things, a new light... color... images... moments. It’s like they are turning the negative into positive. 

You touched me right there. That's why I always known you more than any customer that comes on my shop. I looked at taking pictures the same way you do. It's like my soul was divided into two and shared with you.

Today, I see you FOUR years after, holding a sleek DSLR camera with a special name, and then you go crying, aching. I was wondering what happened to your manual theory thing. Was it just like those beautiful lines from the movies that you know would steal my heart and soul? Have you forgotten about how Mino gave you an UNO in your Photojournalism course? There are a lot of questions on my mind. But when you started crying… all I wanted to know is… “What's wrong?”

Her: Me. 

Him: Tell me.

Her: (sigh.... silence)

Him: Wait here.

He went back to Hidalgo. He grabbed his more than a decade old manual camera, that he teases me its name was Milo and a cousin of Mino. I heard a click. Another click and click. He was taking my pictures. Yes, in this state. In a state where I look like the world's biggest loser, with my tears tracing down my cheeks to my lips.

Him: Let's go. 

Her: Where?

Him: You're done crying. Arte.

Her: Is that a trick?

Him: Trick?
Her: A trick to stop someone crying?
Him: Yes. And it works all the time.
Her: huh?
Him: When you see someone crying... grab a camera, take pictures of him or her. And I'll bet my whole life, that person will stop. 
Her: Why? 
Him: I don't know? Why did you stop?
Her: I don't know either. 
Him: Well... because we like taking sweet memories. Happy memories. We like staring at pictures... happy pictures of ourselves. We want keeping positive memoirs.
Her: Only a crazy person would stare at a sad memory. 
Him: Let's go.
Her: Where?
Him: Let's process this.
Her: You are crazy. 
Him: Make sure you close your eyes when I show you this.
Her: I'll try. 

We went back his shop, almost closing with three customers left behind. The dark room looks the same. He started processing the film. Contaminated even more with the chemicals, he handed me a mask. I just stared at him while he processes the film. Waiting for my pictures was like waiting for a rain in a desert.

Him: Tell me more about Sonya.

Her: Well, she’s a dream come true.

Him: You always wanted it?

Her: Yes.

Him: I didn’t know.
Her: Hey, don’t get me wrong but I love Mino too.
Him: Really now?
Her: Well, me and Mino. It’s a different relationship. Mino gives me the excitement. With him, I can take pictures all day and make me want to see them as soon as I can. With him, I find myself running to the nearest developing center, just to develop the films on my hand. He taught me how to beg… like how I begged in one of your workers, like how I begged in an almost closing film processing site. We created beautiful memories together. Some are very happy and some are very sad. Despite his unavoidable malfunctions, despite the dozens of films he destroyed, I still keep him close to my heart and expect him to behave and give me a nice shot till my next shoot.
Him: and with Sonya?
Her: Well, Sonya is far different that Milo. Sleek. Sexy. Model. Sonya gives me the feeling of advancement and perfection. She lets me take pictures of things and know how it looks at the very moment. She lets me correct mistakes. She allows me to control the world.
Him: Who do you love more?
Her: I love both.
Him: Choose one.
Her: I can’t.
Him: You can’t love two things the same way… one will always be greater.
Her: I love them both. Sonya and Mino are different. Price, specs, appearance. Ask a bunch of people and they will always say, the one is greater than the other. But for me… they serve their purpose the same. No one holds a closer space to my heart because both of them paints me a memory that I can keep. They are the best of their generations. They have their spotlights in their own time.

It was starting to become a great debate. Can we really not love two things, two people the same?

The picture was finished and then, he showed me...

Him: Look.

Her: Oh, I look beautiful here. 

Him: Sad is the right term. 

Her: Not Sad. Just Serious.

Him: Do you know why I took pictures of you crying?
Her: ???
Him: Well, apart from the trick part... I want you to keep it. Or hang it around. 
Her: Why?
Him: Let it remind you of how it hurts so that you will never cry again.
Her: Thanks.
Him: There's a good restaurant across the bridge. 
Her: You need to properly ask me out, if this is a date.
Him: A man in his 60’s asking a lady in her mid twenties for a date… What should I say? Do you like Ice cream? Steak? Beef? Calla Lily is your favorite flower. Should I buy one? You love the song, Ikaw. But I don’t have to serenade you.
Her: Why?
Him: I’m too old for that and I already spent my whole day chasing you, looking at you, babysitting you. Taking pictures of you crying when all I want to do was make you smile. Do I have to buy a ring and ask your hand? Do I have to marry you? Do I have to be with you and leave you too soon when I die? Wouldn’t it be enough that I’ve only taken pictures of you in the last four years that I’ve known you?
Her: Do they have tapsi there?
Him: They don't have that. But with your convincing powers, you can even ask the cook to make pink eggs for you.
Her: Let’s go.

We closed the shop. Ate dinner with no tapsi but they served fried egg for me. We talked. He’s still single. I’m still single. WE are still JUST FRIENDS. I went home with a huge frame on my hand with my pains. Hanged it on the wall and promised myself that when it's aching, when it's breaking... I will stare at this picture and let that person there cry my tears. :)

Who is Majime? I don't know. But when you scramble the letters, it gives you Jamie M. Perhaps that's me. Hello to my pen name! 

love, now and always, 

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