The youngish-looking man standing at the cemetery may not look it but he’s celebrating his birthday today.
He’s 25 years old but technically, he’s older. That’s because he’d been born on February 29– leap year– and only celebrates his birthday every four years.
As time went by, he had fleshed out to become a solid-looking young man despite being gangly for most of his existence. And despite his baby-face, he had eyes that looked old-man tired and were bookended by crow’s-feet.
The youngish-looking man stands on a hill that’s part of a memorial park in Valenzuela, just off the service road to the North Luzon Expressway. Around him, squarish crypts and mausoleums rise in irregular stands throughout the estate, scattered in a haphazard pattern like grotesque cement dice.
He remembers a time when the memorial park had only been a green field interspersed with marble patches memorializing the dead.Now the dead are everywhere and the lapidas, their headstones, have grown up to become houses.
The young-looking man studies the marble marker at his feet and thinks of the lives he’s led and people he’s met.
“Shit. This is getting tiresome. Four years and I’m back again. You’d think they would clean up this place.”
With that, he sits down, lights a cigarette (one vice he’s never really kicked despite the years), and proceeds to tell the marker—the only thing left that reminds him of his best friend—of the past four years.
One day every four years. One year for every four years.
For the youngish-looking man, time passes very, very slowly…
(First posted Wednesday, April 13, 2005 at 3:24 P.M.)