I’d like to think that I’m not an asshole.
I’m not nice. I’m not kind. I’m surly, and miserable, and impatient, and I don’t like most people.
Even then I’d still like to think that I know better than to judge other people by how they look.
I would never greet someone with “ang taba mo na!“, or be so dickish as to side-eye a fat person for doing something as normal as eating.
But then I was reading your novel, Dwellers, and I came upon this:
You are so fat, you are so useless, you take up the space meant for better, more disciplined people…
It hit me like a ton of bricks.
And I realized that yes, I’m an asshole.
I don’t think I’m prejudiced. I don’t think I’m an insensitive bitch. But how many times have I stared disdainfully at fat people on public transport, irritated that they were taking up too much space and making life difficult for us “normal” ones?
I could try and excuse it as a side effect of this country’s terrible transport system. I could argue that “I don’t really mean it” and that I’m just “irritated”.
I could insist that I’m not a dick till I’m blue in the face, but it wouldn’t make it less true.
I’m an asshole, even if I don’t mean to be one.
Even if it’s not all the time.
Even if my default setting is decent human.
Because that’s what it means, doesn’t it? That I believe myself better, more deserving of space because I’m thin and therefore socially acceptable?
I read that line from your novel over and over and over again. I know it’s not the core of your story. I understand that.
But for at least a couple of minutes I forgot the whodunit and wanted to bury my face somewhere no one will find it, because I was ashamed.
I guess that’s how it is when your ugly thoughts are thrown back at you.
So thank you, really. It stings a bit to have my ugliness laid out bare – to actually put them into words and make me realize that I have quite a long way to go before I become the decent person I imagine myself to be.
PS: your novel is excellent, as always.