But the goddamn typhoon made sure escape wouldn't be possible; at least, not within the large island of Luzon. And with all the almost incredible destruction anywhere I'd turn, I was just too petrified right on my little spot.
So there I was, pickled, sore, and angsty in all the boredom a massive blackout could lavish me with. I read books, schemed, slept, ate, and schemed some more -- activities that are not very different from what trapped small animals do all the time.
Worst, sheer boredom forced me to actually read a Paulo Coelho book.
The book in question was Eleven Minutes. It was insufferable, as usual, save for one little funny detail: there's a cameo of a Filipina prostitute in Geneva, who Mr. Coelho, in his wonderful wisdom, gave the heart-stopping name of "Nyah."
Nyah. Genius. That just made me stop and think and kick the neighbor’s dog. I’ve never met anybody with a name like that. My little theory is that Coelho probably was browsing around and found Nyoy Volante’s website. He probably thought “Nyoy” would be a cool Filipino name, except that he needed something for a woman. No problem, he thought, just feminize it. Make “Nyoy” into “Nya.”
But wait. Nya lacked something. Coelho researched some more, until very reliable online sources enlightened him on the Filipino habit of putting “H” into their pet names, in which “Roger” magically becomes “Rhogher”, “Pitoy” becomes “Phithoy”, and “Joe Bert” becomes “Jhoe Bhert.”
In the end, Paulo Coelho decides to name the very minor Eleven Minutes character, “Nyah.”
But that was just me and my “theory.” I was still rankled with a deep, almost desperate craving to squeeze some answer from the author himself. So on that sweaty blackout afternoon, already like a dog in heat and stir-crazy from my lack of online access, I did what Lex Luthor would have done: I paid people to buy me several meters of copper cable and hook me up with some power source, insisting that I didn’t care if they had to step on somebody’s toes or make a government official cry.
And you know what, talk to the right kind of thief, like Oskar Schindler used to do, and you’ll remain on top of the brutal food chain.
There’s probably a God somewhere clucking His ethereal tongue disapprovingly of the filthy things I have at my command, but I’m ready to send people to kick the living daylights out of the Almighty Himself for sending something dirty and very inconvenient like that typhoon.
When I finally had power (I had electricity while the rest of the darned town groped in the dark), the first thing I did was fire off the following email direct to Mr Paulo “I Have The Hots For Filipinas Named Nyah” Coelho.
Dear Mr. Paulo Coelho:
I just finished reading your exceedingly fascinating 2003 novel, Eleven Minutes. I just have one minor question, though, that I hope you won’t ignore. I’ve been a Filipino in the past 30 years and I personally know about 50 million Filipinas, and none of them has this strange, outlandish name, Nyah. I’m wondering, why not Ginalyn? Or Edmilyn? Or Inday Badiday?
Therefore, I’d just like to ask:
Were you shitting all of us?
Sincerely, your number one Filipino fan,
Two days later, I received this response:
Thank you for your opinion about Eleven Minutes.
I value your opinion a great deal.
It is very gratifying to know that you understand my book as it was
meant to be understood.
Always follow your dreams and fight for them with faith.
When I read it, the thought in my head was, “Shit. He bought Scott Adams’s Automatic Bullshit Generator and he’s using it to answer all fan queries!”
I knew then that in order to reach the man, I had to resort to my old tricks. I called up my friend in Brazil, some thug I met in Rome more than a decade ago, and asked him, Do you know where Paulo Coelho lives?
The person on the other end grunted. “He’s in Rio de Janeiro.”
“I’m just wondering,” I said, “Can you kindly please beat the shit out of him?”
My Brazilian thug gasped. “You mean, all his shit? And out of him?”
“Not really,” I said, “just keep him alive enough to answer my email in the nicest, most helpful way possible. This is very, very important.”
My Brazilian thug grunted once more before the line went dead.
I’m pretty sure Paulo Coelho’s happily personally answering my email right now, as my good Brazilian thug lounges on a couch nearby, persuading Mr Coelho with the oft-repeated tale of how, a long time ago, he “accidentally” dropped a famous, impossible-to-bother writer out of a seventh-story window.