Sunday, April 30, 2006

Chronicles of Death Foretold*

I've seen dead people.

Blood congeals beneath them, slowly spreading, as if someone had merely spilled a can of red paint beneath a facedown body.

It takes a few hours before the smell begins to emanate; the stink seeps into every last pore, as if to announce, ladies and gentlemen, this body now has no core.

Day by day, the death pictures pile up.

The latest that I have seen -- the siblings gunned down in Mindoro Oriental.

They found her still tied to a post, head bowed in agony, the front of her white t-shirt red with blood. Him, only a few meters away, facedown on a bamboo floor amidst the disarray of strewn clothes, toppled cans, a ransacked house.

"The most effective way to wage war is to kidnap the relatives of your enemies," said a general to me today after lunch.

Everyone has a weakness. Single people have mothers, boyfriends, significant others. No one is invulnerable.

I remember, we spent three hours in an opinion class arguing about the ethics of showing grisly pictures. Soon, my professor said, the public would be so accustomed to them that they would become inured to the depravity, the indignity, the wrongness of a violent death.

Why is it that I still cringe at 8' o clock am sunday morning, when a man's voice cheerily announces over the radio that a newborn baby's head was severed severed! by an inept physician as s/he came out of his/her mother's womb?

No gender, name, age, life.

Just a severed head.

*with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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