Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In cold blood

(Or how you interview a source whose story is a version of your own.)

You let her speak. You let her go on & on about everything, starting from the very beginning. You need the info anyways. Don't write all the facts, just the 1 you know you might forget -- like the spelling of a name, the acronym for some test you never had. You'll remember the other stuff -- like Stage 3 or We feel very blessed now.

Write the 1st 3 words of quotes you'll use. No use for writing the whole thing. If it's good, you'll remember anyways. The quotes will make your outline.

Things fell apart.

Do I end it na?

I don't know.

She has her feet up on the couch. The son beside her is chiming in -- hospital memories (he was 5 years old then). The toddler's running around; everything is OK. Good. Just let her go on. Nod if you must; keep your eyes on her. Keep the face blank. Make her think you might be interested; make her forget she's talking to you. Just let her. You need the info anyway.

But latch on to the details she brushes over. Not that her husband lost his hair. Not that his family was so helpful. Not that she cleaned the hospital room herself before allowing him to enter.

Hold on to the things said under her breath:

Do I end it na?

Kassandra was only 4 months old.

She's nearing the end of the story, the classic pedestal she's almost atop. You might have even been kind of touched. But hold on...

To Do I end it na? 

To was only 4 months old.

When she's finished, allow a millisecond's afterglow, then ask, firmly: But don't you feel you shortchanged her? You don't even have to point to that precious girl who has been sitting beside you. Don't even have to say her name.

Her mother will break down in front of you. It means you hit her ... & unmasked her.

Then the real story will come, the story that matters. And it hurts. But you're doing your job, you're doing it well, cuz who knows the depth of what she's feeling than you yourself?


Anonymous Kat said...

Man. You're a good scary reporter.

8:00 PM  
Blogger M.V. said...

I try. (Pa-humble epek. Hehe.)

Ortigas, right? Malapit lang. Lunch tayo minsan.

8:56 AM  

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