Living in the suburb, we get all kinds of bugs and insects in the garden and inside the house — fireflies, butterflies and moths, grasshoppers… But what’s really interesting is that every year on All Souls’ Day, we’d always have a moth that stays inside the house the entire day, sometimes even longer. This year, it was a large, beautiful, yellow moth.
The moth was in my study, it got too near Alex and, in trying to avoid it, she bumped her knee on my table and got a nasty bruise. She wanted me to get rid of it but it was so beautiful I decided to take photos first. But it proved shy, flew to another part of the room and kept moving.
So, I asked Sam to get her butterfly net (an old accessory from high school).
But this moth didn’t intend to get caught. It eluded the net and settled on the wall near a window from where I managed to take photos. Since it didn’t seem interested in flying out of the window, I left it alone. We went to Greenhills, shopped, went to the supermarket, then to a Chinese deli and came home several hours later.
After dinner, we were lounging in the Family Room and found it there. Speedy didn’t want to shut the windows to turn on the aircon with the moth still inside the house. He asked Sam for the butterfly net, caught it and let it out through the window.
Whether in jest or wishful thinking, every time we find a moth inside the house at this time of the year, we always say it’s either my father, my grandmother or Speedy’s father, all of whom have been dead for years, paying a visit. I suppose it was this mood (plus the fact that she had just seen a horror movie called Reincarnation) that prompted Sam to ask me if I believed in reincarnation. She asked me in the car on the way to Greenhills. I told her it was an attractive thought, the ability to come back over and over, but the rational side of me says it just isn’t true.
But, if it were true, Sam persisted, would I want to be reincarnated? Yes, I told her. I would. In fact, I want more. I want to be reincarnated and retain all memories from previous lives. Imagine… All that knowledge. The ability to solve problems of the present because you know exactly where and how everything went wrong in the past.
There are a lot of cultures where reincarnation figures prominently. Part of the law of karma, some say, and what you don’t pay for or what reward you are not able to collect in this lifetime, you can pay for or collect in the next. For others, it is simply an integral part of the belief in the afterlife where the death of the body is not the end but merely the transition to another kind of life.
It’s an attractive thought, like I said. And goodness knows how I’ve pored over historical romances that deal with reincarnation. Anya Seton’s Green Darkness is one of my favorite novels of all time and that’s what it is all about — ill-fated lovers meeting again some five hundred years later — in another life — and the passion is still burning. Great stuff for fiction, really. Even in Filipino pop literature and entertainment, reincarnation combined with romance has always been a surefire formula for commercial success and even critical acclaim. Mars Ravelo’s Maruja was a hit in komiks form and the first film adaptation with Susan Roces and Romeo Vasquez was memorable too. Even when seen through the eyes of a child, I must say, because I was very young when I saw the film and I still have wonderful memories of it lasting and lingering enough for me to dismiss the two remakes as poor copies.
But. As wonderfully attractive as the notion may be, I still say that reincarnation is best left to romantic fiction. It might serve as a symbol of continuity and immortality in some cultures and belief systems but, for me, it’s just a beautifully conceptualized fiction.