Quincy Jones L. Ondona
Of all the good things worthy of remembering, watching a movie was the one that just wouldn’t easily leave the seemingly endless heap of my nostalgia.
It happened during my recent pastoral exposure in Catadman Mangga. It was a fine ordinary day; a new day for an ordinary routine of everyday life. And just when the day was about to get boring, when we’re almost at the brink of exhausting all possible topics for our conversation, a crisp selection from my foster family’s collection of movies was finally decided just to get through that hour’s standstill. After culling from the pile of mostly action movies, I opted for the most thrilling one sans the gunshots or at least less of it. Pee Mak – a Thai movie that is actually of a strange sort; a combination of fear and thrill, romantic horror to say it straightly. It’s the story of a soldier whose wife died of miscarriage. In the battlefield, he wasn’t aware of the tragedy. Back home, his neighbors knew it well; they not only knew that she’s already dead, they also knew that she’s now playing a ghost – a beautiful ghost maybe but a ghost nonetheless. Mak (the name of the soldier) went home with the same usual feeling of a man wanting to see his wife after a long stretch of time. His neighbors couldn’t tell him the truth for fear that Nak (the soldier’s ghost-wife) might return on them with her ghostly wrath. So for some time, Mak was with the impression that she’s still alive and warm as any living body should be. Until there came a time when fate became restless and doubts were starting to come to the surface.
Mak may have his doubts, but he resolved to opt for denial. One of the sweetest scenes in the movie was when Mak brought Nak to the carnival. This he did despite the razor-sharp stares of his neighbors. He just wanted to spend a normal moment with her. Every couple deserves a moment with each other. Every lover deserves every opportunity to renew their bond of eternal love. He took her for a ride on a ferris wheel. There the conversation turned bitter-sweet.
“Mak, aren’t you afraid of ghosts?”
“Scared? Ghosts come on out here. There’s nothing to be scared of.”
And as if his answer gave her an assurance of some sort, she smiled.
And then here’s the bitter part. She asked him.
“Baby, if one day I’ll die, can you live without me?”
At this moment he choked, perplexed about the question.
“Why?” He asked.
“Just tell me. I want to know.”
“No. If anyone is going to die then I want to die first. If I don’t have you, I can’t go on.”
But the fact is, she really died ahead of him. Yet in her temporary existence which can never be described in an exact term, she was with him, living with him, loving him. The finale of the movie was done in a Buddhist monastery where an exorcism is being done to finally cast out and drive away Nak. At that supposed to be final moment, the couples met again. Not wanting to leave him, she asked for his hand, and bid him to go with her to where she, upon the moment of her death, belongs. Did Mak have any second thoughts? No. He willingly offered himself, an offer which could possibly unite them forever.
That’s when the sweetest of the moments happened.
Nak apologized for her lies, for not telling him the truth that she is a ghost.
“I just wanted to be with you for as long as I could. Even if it’s just for one more day.”
But Mak gave her an even startling answer.
“Nak, you don’t have to go anywhere. You said you lied to me. You didn’t lie to me at all. Even though I’m a fool, I’m not so stupid that I wouldn’t know that my wife is dead.”
Yes, he knew all along. He found it himself. He found his wife’s dead body not so far from their backyard. He found the ring in her hand.
“Even if all the villagers get rid of me, and nobody wants to be my friend. I would still want to live with you.”
“Aren’t you scared of me?” She asked.
“You know I’m scared of ghosts, but I’m scared more of living without you.”
That’s when I, a man who is going to be a priest and a celibate at that (God willing), was moved by this romanticism. Love after all spreads out to every human being. It’s a thing one can’t get away with. For as long as the heart beats, love lives. But it doesn’t mean that I would leave my vocation because of some romantic lines I heard in a movie. No, the movie didn’t teach me that I should go look for a woman to love. It only taught me that love cannot die.
The movie was sweet because it tells us about the possibility of the impossible – of a love beyond the grave. During weddings, each partner pledges to love each other “till death do us part.” But Mak’s story tells us that even that is not true. For couples who love each other as freshly as the dew drops resting on the palm of the morning leaf, even death has no power to kill the flame burning in their hearts. Love is more than just the presence, it’s the feeling. It’s an eternal flame as the song goes.
Back in the house, the movie ended a little shortly before lunch. We spent half of the morning without a chat but the movie spoke wisdom of a lifetime. Actually, I’m not a romantic type of guy nor am I fond of movies. There are only some which leaves an imprint. Pee Mak is one of those.
Yes, all movies are man-made but some are God-sent.