Two Cents · Unpopular Opinion

Back from the Dead*

Mr. Z woke up to find that he was supposed to be dead.

He had come from a long hike the day before. When he got to his apartment, where he lived alone, the first thing on his mind was to upload the photos in his camera to Facebook. But he was tired. Sleep took over. FB can wait, he thought. Very few would care, anyway.

In hindsight, he should have heeded the pull of the Internet that late afternoon. That was when someone (let’s imagine this “someone” sitting in a dark room, his hipster glasses reflecting his deeds on Facebook) logged into Mr. Z’s Facebook account and posted the following message: “Mr. Z met an accident when his car collided with a truck. Please pray for his soul.”

Now Mr. Z doesn’t have a car — the salary of a schoolteacher does not allow him such a luxury. Sadly, very few know this, and those who did know went ahead with the assumption that it was not his car but simply a car he happened to be in at that moment.

The students who were perpetually glued to FB and Twitter were the first to react — not a minute after the message was posted. “Is this true? Please say it isn’t,” said the first comment. “Oh no! I will pray for him. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ This is so sad,” said another. And then someone, largely ignored (for being cruel, perhaps), said, “Has anyone confirmed this?”

Word spread like wildfire. Mr. Z’s so-called demise was the topic of most of the students in his school. On Twitter, they created the hashtag #RIPMrZ. One of the students wrote a tearjerking note extolling his virtues in the classroom: his easygoing manner, his understanding and approachability, and his ability to make the most difficult concepts seem easy. She ended by saying, “I will miss you, Mr. Z. You were really a great teacher.”

Soon, his co-teachers began to notice. Text messages started flying: Is this true? Where did the news come from? Please confirm. His friends and bosses called his phone — but he was too busy snoring to notice. They took this as a sign that their worst fears had come true. So when others asked them to confirm, they replied, “Yes, due to a road accident.” Hearts sank. There were those who vainly tried to remember their last encounter with him (one was too upset to admit that she had a major row with Mr. Z regarding how he disciplined his students). There were others who wished they had been closer to Mr. Z, wished they had chatted with him every now and then over lunch or coffee (one felt desperate as she didn’t have anything nice to say about him as a eulogy on Facebook).

Someone dared to ask the obvious: “Why would a dead person post about his own death?” And everybody else explained it away by saying that the one who posted the message was probably a family member who had used Mr. Z’s laptop (or something), on which Mr. Z was still logged, to post the message. But there were more skeptics. “No one has confirmed this, right?” posted someone on Mr. Z’s FB wall. No one could affirm. “Where does he live, anyway? Let’s go there, now,” said a co-teacher. “Ask the HR for his parents’ numbers,” suggested someone else. Soon enough, the tone on his FB wall changed. “No one wants Mr. Z dead, but I really hope this isn’t a bad joke,” said the last post.

This went on for hours until Mr. Z woke up at around 5 AM the next day, which was a Monday. His muscles ached from the hike and the subsequent 12-hour sleep. With bleary eyes, he boiled water for his coffee, scrounged the cupboards and fridge for something to eat, and plugged his cellphone to charge (the battery had drained through the night from the countless missed calls). He then took a bath. As he was dressing up for work, he turned on his cellphone, and that’s when he noticed he had 107 missed calls, 89 messages, and 132 Facebook notifications.

Z, PLEASE text back and say you’re alive, said the latest desperate message.

“Yes I’m alive,” he texted his boss back, still not fully understanding. A few kilometers away, Mr. Z’s boss almost fell off her seat.

And so it was that Mr. Z, on that Monday morning, received the warmest greetings he had ever had in his school. He was hugged by female colleagues he’d barely talked to, chatted with his few friends (and some hangers-on) over breakfast for the longest time, got the wildest cheers in his classes, and spent a huge amount of time poring over his Facebook wall and the #RIPMrZ tweets. He had a chuckle reading his students’ messages. Just last week, they’d been bothering him about giving them bonus points and ceaselessly complaining about how his easy his lessons and seatwork seemed when the exams were always difficult.

Oh well, he thought. Everything will be back to normal soon. We die and everyone notices; we live and no one knows we’re alive.**


*strangely, this is based on a true story.
**a quote from Amelia Lapeรฑa-Bonifacio’s play “Sepang Loca”

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2 thoughts on “Back from the Dead*

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