In Memoriam Archimedes Trajano
We are born inquisitive. Even in the womb we ask questions. We are sentient creatures, agog at our sensible experience of life—darkness, light, color, sound, softness, a mother’s bosom, sweetness, her fragrant milk. Time passes, a flock of birds. We learn about rocks and knives—bitterness of boiled vegetables, raw agony of skinned knees, sudden terror when we are abandoned. We discover how to step around dangers, deftly avoid them.
We do not use language all at once. When we do, we ask questions like, Where does the wind come from? Why is the sky blue? How do birds fly? Our teachers ask us, Any questions? We are encouraged to think critically, taking apart the world the same way you disassemble an electric fan.
Questions grow green everywhere. Waiters smile, nodding. Anything else? Broadcast journalists badger their respondents, angling for the sound bite. You said…? Medical doctors probe, detective work. How long has this been going on? Scientists set forth hypotheses. Engineers detail specifications. Creative writers forge plots. Artists conceive works of art. Thinkers of every stripe, philosophers, theologians, children, naïve as newly washed fruit—all ask questions.
Some questions you do not ask, ordinarily. How much do you weigh? Are you pregnant? What sins did you confess to the priest?
Twenty-one years old, I asked one question too soon, too late—too soon to confront the daughter of a tyrant, too late to take it back. Must the National Youth Council be headed by the president’s daughter? Bodyguards forcibly detained me, beat me, tortured me. Tossed me out a second-story window. I no longer ask questions.
Originally published in vox poetica (August 22, 2016)
|59-year-old Imee Marcos at the opening of the Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte wind farm|