Art by Chris Clemente
Culture

SATIRE: The Metamorphosis of Persida Acosta

A day in the life of PAO Chief Persida Acosta, as Franz Kafka would have probably reimagined it.
Jade Mark CapiƱanes | Aug 24 2019

One morning, as Persida Acosta was waking up from anxious dreams, she discovered she had been changed into a monstrous dengue-carrying mosquito. She lay on her translucent, scaly wings and saw, as she lifted her head up and drew her feathery antennae, her body divided into multiple segments: three for her thorax and ten for her abdomen. These segments were large enough to house not only her anatomical systems but also around 15 liters of adult human blood. Her three pairs of legs, long and striped, flickered like hair strands before her two large composite eyes.

“What’s happened to me?” she tried to say through her proboscis but could not. 

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It was no dream. Her room, somewhat too big, not unlike her ambitions, was filled with overstocked office supplies. Above the table, on which stacks of legal documents and a couple of Dengvaxia vials were spread out (Acosta was a public attorney moonlighting as an epidemiologist), hung the framed photograph of the bespectacled Erwin Erfe, a forensic pathologist, or so he claimed.

Persida’s glance then turned to the window. The dreary weather (the rain drops were falling audibly down on the metal window ledge) made her feel sanguine because—due to some biological drive she’d just discovered she had—she knew that the rain, upon touching the earth, would become pools of stagnant water, in which she could lay her equally monstrous eggs. But this was not entirely news. For even before, when she was still a human being, people had already assumed she bred in the aforementioned aquatic manner.

“O God,” she tried to say again but, like earlier, could not. And so she just tried to think—a brain activity that, scientifically speaking, had already been proven to exist, albeit in rudimentary forms, among insects and the majority of public officials. 

These were her thoughts: 

“What a demanding job I’ve chosen! The stresses of warning the Filipino public against a dengue vaccine on purely speculative basis are much greater than that of the legal and administrative work I am actually paid to do at the head office! 

She knew that the rain, upon touching the earth, would become pools of stagnant water, in which she could lay her equally monstrous eggs

“And, in addition to that, I have to deal with the problems of maintaining a supernaturally white face and choosing a scarf whose color has never even matched any of my dresses. To hell with it all!”

As she was thinking all this over in the greatest haste, without being able to make the decision to get out of crucial things she knew next to nothing about, her antennal filaments vibrated, signaling to her a knock on the door.

“Atty. Acosta,” a voice called.

Persida was startled when she heard the voice. It was clearly and unmistakably a voice of a man.

The voice was familiar to her, belonging to someone she had recently spoken to. But since she had become this horrible creature, whose brain could handle only the crudest of all neurological processes, she had also lost a lot of her memories. By some residual human instinct, she wanted to cry for help. But her present condition—particularly her having a needlelike mouth—confined her oral communication to irrepressibly painful squeaking. A squeaking that distorted any word she attempted to say into silent and small reverberations, the frequencies of which were audible only to mosquitoes and some other animal species with highly developed auditory senses.

“Atty. Acosta?” the man outside called out again, already knocking on the door with his fist. After a short while, he urged her on again in a deeper voice: “Atty. Acosta! Are you all right? Please open the door.”

Her present condition—particularly her having a needlelike mouth—confined her oral communication to irrepressibly painful squeaking.

Persida had no intention of opening the door. She did not want to be seen like this. She hatched a plan. She wanted to get out of her bed, get dressed, and only then consider further action. It was easy to do the first thing. She needed only to use her wings and fly. The second thing, however, was difficult: her clothes were not tailored for six-limbed, blood-sucking insects. Still, she tried, twisting and bending her body parts just to fit into her favorite gown. “If somebody caught sight of me as a gigantic mosquito,” she thought, “at least I would be very well-dressed.”

Not only was her attempt anatomically impossible and doomed, it was violently painful. And as she contorted and wriggled in and out of the gown, she lost control and bumped her head against the edge of the table. At once, legal documents and Dengvaxia vials scattered all over the floor. Due to the shock, she fainted—this time for real, and without having to do it at a press conference while defending a disgraced client.

In the middle of all this, another man arrived at her doorstep. “Good morning, Atty. Acosta,” he called out in a friendly way. “We’re the guys you contacted yesterday. Pest control. We’re fogging your house today.”

“I heard some noise inside,” the other man, the one who had arrived earlier, said. “But it can’t be Attorney. Humans don’t make sounds like that.”

“So nobody’s here?”

“I think so. She did tell us to go on with it even if she wasn’t here.”

“Okay. Let’s get it over with. It’s getting late. We still have a lot of pests to kill.”