The floors creaked as the tall heels of her shoes collided with the wooden floors as she walked. She was a strong woman; tall in stature, about forty or fifty years of age, dominating features, a strong nose, luscious lips, slim yet curvy body and eyes that glare at the soul of those who behold them. She was a queen, a matriarch of her own world.
Just one glance at her will give you the impression that she’s been through a lot, and yet, you still find innocence whenever she moves with delicate grace and looks at you like a deer lost in this unforgiving world. She has this habit of just standing at the porch and admiring the beauty that lies across the land; the red sea of leaves and branches that stretches out towards the horizon. She stands still, staring, admiring and unyielding.
Arbol De Fuegos, Fire Trees.
The white curtains swayed and flowed like it was dancing with the cold afternoon wind. The windows it adorned were like portals to another world as it displays the beauty of the fire trees; the fire trees that meant nothing and yet at the same time, everything. The wide river stretched out like a streak of rogue blue line painted on a canvass of red. It was divine, this scenery is a work of God.
It’s a beautiful illusion.
The red paint hides the black canvass underneath; a broken, tattered and rugged canvass that survived ages of poverty, injustice, hypocrisy and ignorance. A black canvass that, despite how broken, is still able to support the oozing paint that touches it to paint the world red; to turn black to crimson, to turn death to life.
Sometimes all we need is an illusion. An illusion that helps us feel contented with what we have and what we think we have. Illusions that push us to survive the day and wake up tomorrow.
The story of the woman is a story of life; how it brings us up and how it brings us down. How her perspective of the fire trees changed from the innocence of her childhood to the grim memories of her child’s death. How these fire trees, that she thought would stand the test of time, will soon disappear to make way for better things and a better future. The matriarch was an adult but also a child, a child lost and ignorant to the black canvass underneath the red paint. She was contented with what the windows showed; a sea of fire trees, and blinded herself from seeing the canvass beneath.
For these fire trees, no matter how beautiful they were, were rooted from the blackest of our society’s pit.
(Inspired by PETA’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard; Arbol De Fuego starring Ms. Cherrie Gil)