I can already feel the cold breeze of the wind gently kissing my face. I raised my head and looked around. It was already late afternoon. Dark clouds hover up ahead indicating the heavens to cry anytime soon. I got up from where I am perched and got inside. But... that was the last time I will see the light.
My folks are poor farmers and we live in a secluded area. At a young age we knew all the house works and farm works like planting rice and reaping, cleaning up weeds and grasses. In the morning we have boiled banana, sweet potatoes, cassava, purple yam and gabi for breakfast instead of bread. For our main dish we have plenty of exotic foods we can collect at the fields and at the creek. Together with my siblings and other children, we happily climb wild fruit trees and gather berries. The birds cheerfully singing at the trees lifted our spirits all the more.. We were contented with the simplicity of life.
The school was far from our village. It was located at the nearby village and for that we need to walk some kilometers to reach it.
My mother accompanied me during the early days of classes. Later on, I go with my brother who was studying at a nearby village also that's why we have to separate ways when we reach the crossroads. I can vividly remember one time when a certain parent told me my ears were twisted because I spelled a word incorrectly, interchanging two letters. I told my mother about it and she said, "forget about it and don't keep thinking about."
There's no vehicle available on those parts of the mountain and for that we need to walk an hour. The other kids are turning into a bully most especially that me and my brother separate ways. They would get my money forcibly which was supposed to be for my snack during recess. I feel grateful whenever we met an older person who would defend me.
I was not spared from the bullies in school. They would get my lunch and if they don't like it, they would make fun of me. There were times that I would not allow them to get hold of my snack or lunch but the boys would punch me, the girls would spank and push me and whip me with a stick or their bag. During exams, on checking of our papers they would change my correct answers with the wrong ones so that I would've a low score and wouldn't be defeated by their friend. Not to boast but I have a little higher IQ. But the teachers knew their tricks.
Eventually, I am already graduating from elementary. I felt a little relieved from the thought that at last I will be free from the bullies. But I was wrong, it was worse. I didn't even expect that my relatives were the ones to pull me down.
My parents decided to send me at a nearby municipality where I could commence highschool because there's no available highschool in our place. K-12 didn't exist yet those times. I stayed on a boarding house. I received criticisms from our neighbors back home. They said I wouldn't be able to make it through highschool because students from my school were all "bulakbol" or the ones we call happy-go-lucky. However, I told myself that it depends upon an individual if he should go with the wrong peers and be influenced by them with their bad influences or to do his part as student and make his parents proud.
I did my part as a student to be able to repay the hard works of my parents. I had a friend, a bestfriend. She was our neighbor's daughter in the village. We're at the same year level that I had greater achievements than she did. To my disbelief, she spread a rumor in our village that I was not doing good in school. That all I did was to entertain textmates. She even added that I wasn't granted scholarship offer at a university because of my poor grades while she was. In fact, there's no such thing that reached our school. Because of this that gossips back home became worst but I turned a deaf ear.
Finally, it's time to say goodbye highschool life. The final stage in persuing a higher degree of education.
There's no one else more prouder than I am but my parents as my father received the medal for valedictorian and hanged it on my neck. The one who had been spreading rumors about me was the 6th placer. I don't know why but they hated me more. Even her family treated me like we were not friends, their true nature surfaced.
My friend's family became greedy and tried to grab the lots my father were farming. Lots which were on the line of my forefathers for years was eventually being seized from us. The lot where our humble abode stood was not spared by them. My good and humble father even talked to them in a nice way but they insisted on their action. They brought the case in court but it was dismissed due to the fact that everything they tried to grabbed were all placed at my father's name. Up until this time, they are still trying to get their hands on the lot. We just had to turn a deaf ear and let them be.
My so-called bestfriend turned a cold shoulder towards me. She seemed like she hadn't seen me though we bump into each other. I was already her enemy for no apparent reason, if ever there was then it could be hers or theirs. This went on until we had to leave for college to chase our dreams.
Pave a new path then chase dreams.
Despite those challenges at an early age, I still enrolled at a university and rented a room as my boarding house because we can't afford an apartment. I stayed here alone thinking of our situation in life. I did my part, though. A frugal me had to spend wise. I ate rice with soy sauce, salt or coffee so that I may be able to pay for the things in school. In short, I was short of allowance.
Until one time that I really felt my financial can't really make it. I thought of dropping out of school and work at a bar. Nevertheless, I discarded that decision immediately and thought of the hardworks my parents were doing in order to support and send us to school. I thought of their sacrifices just for me to finish the first level of my degree- those times they had to endure the hot,cold weather and rain to work and the times they ate late to finish a task at the fields.
Fortunately, I was one among the Dean's lister because I am doing all my best in school and receiving some financial assistance. However, during this time storms came after the other succeedingly. The roads at our place were all destroyed that it was impossible for transportation. I had to eat less from my remaining supply of potato and rice because I had no one to loan from. Electric supplies were also cut due to the strong surge of the storm that I can't use my mobile phone to call for help.
I went at a market place to look for a job when the weather was better to support me for the time being. My parents were still unable to send me support because of the broken roads and landslides. I worked as potato washer at the market. One afternoon, my mother was able to finally make it in the city at my boarding house. I really pitied her because she has to walk for a couple of hours to reach the terminal to be able to bring me my supplies of food.
I was pregnant
I was doing great in school and I felt happy about it because who would not? Having high grades in exchange of both my parents sacrifices and mine despite all the adversities. I was already at the second semester of my second year. One time, I came home to my boarding house to find my father who visited me unexpectedly. I went to him and gave him a tight hug but his looks was very serious. He looked at me intently from head to my tummy. Then suddenly he hugged me back. I learned from him that my ex-bestfriend again made a rumor and spread that I wasn't attending school already because I was pregnant. And that I was only afraid to go home. I felt hurt because that was painful but I smiled to my dad and said it was all a make-believe story.
On the other hand, my ex-bestfriend went home heavy with her pregnancy after some time. I just kept mum and thought,"it is hard to say words out of reality about someone because it might get back to you one day."
3rd year- an unexpected twist of fate
During this time, academics are getting tougher. More projects to make and requirements to meet which made me sleep late. It required more money that's why I took a part time job to wash carrots at the market place. At those times, I felt there was something different from my body. My head aches anytime of the day. It would awaken me sometimes at the middle of the night. But I just ignored it. I thought it was all normal because of my current situation, juggling school matters to trying to work at my free time.
I took with me my notes at the roof of my boarding house to study my lessons one time. Then I felt the pain again, I just sat down and thought it would pass just like it used to in the past days.
I can already feel the cold breeze of the wind gently kissing my face. It should be a pleasant feeling but it made my head throbbed all the more. I raised my head and looked around. It was already late afternoon. Dark clouds hover up ahead indicating the heavens to cry anytime soon. I got up from where I am perched and got inside because I knew the cold would get inside my body that could worsen the pain. As I was getting down the stairs I can feel my world spinning in a ferris wheel until the world became pitch black....
A very inspiring story of a very diligent, studious and humble girl that no matter the tribulation she faced she stood strong with the love and guidance of her family. However, a twist of fate had made everything in an upside down manner.
To be continued