Friday, July 21, 2006

Beginnings and Endings

There are books that for me are so terrific I just couldn’t find the courage to finish reading them. I don’t know, maybe it’s out of some absurd respect for what I think are great things. Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, for example. Or Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. You can quiz me about how it began, how the characters faced their individual extinctions, how they rubbed the little happiness they had with their little fingers. But I won’t be able to tell you how it all ends. I have no idea. I have suspicions, and mostly I make it up, sometimes to avoid embarrassment.

Some years ago, when I was in the first few chapters of reading Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis, I immediately knew this would be one of those books. I’d guard how many remaining pages I was left to read, and then I’d tack a sort of mental Post-It note in my head. When I chat with somebody about one of these no-ending books, I invent the endings. I make it wild enough to be exciting, but believable enough not to arouse suspicion.

I walk the earth with a head full of books that have no endings. At the end of the day, I console myself with an absurd pride; it’s not easy, after all, to have the self-discipline to divorce oneself from a page-turner. It takes immense will, like the kind of focus you need to bend spoons and forks and the Philippine Constitution.

Sometimes, I find myself wondering: what if one day or morning, at a café or somewhere on EDSA, I meet somebody who knows all the endings, but no beginnings? Somebody whose head is full of last chapters?

I’m pretty sure such a meeting would be like the hotdog meeting a donut. Or John meeting Yoko. The Red Sea parting in half. Or a story that finally finds its own reason to be read completely.

I have no idea if this makes sense. But one thing is for sure.

If I meet this amazing person one day in the far future, I will tell her:

Don’t you, oh don’t you goddamn tell me the motherfucking ending.

No comments: