When I was a Grade 6 pupil, I cried over my first periodic exam in English. Periodic, my English teacher then would always stress — not periodical, as we were wont to say before he came to our small private school. Sir E’s instructions on the exam were clear: we were supposed to read the given passage and answer the subsequent questions in complete sentences, based on what we read. I did not follow the instructions.
Every day begins at 5:30 am. As I walk past the charity wards on the way to the Neurosurgical Special Care Unit, I mumble a short prayer asking for a little more kindness and a little less impatience. That has become my morning habit. I used to wish for fewer patients, until I realized that I didn’t need the daily disappointment, and thus directed my morning offering to self-improvement instead.
Suot ang toga at hawak ang kunwaring diploma, mahirap bilangin kung ilang daang araw na nga ba ang lumipas mula nang una kang tumayo sa harap ni Lady Med. Natapos ka rin, sa wakas.
Matapos matunaw ang yelo ng iced tea, matapos magsawa sa pagkalam ang aking sikmura, matapos kong panooring magsubuan ng halo-halo ang magkasintahan sa tapat ng aking inuupuan (nakasampung pasahan sila ng kutsarita bago maubos ang kinakain), dumating ang waiter na may bitbit ng aking hapunan.
"So, why do you want to be a doctor?"
Pipilitin kong tumingin nang diretso sa mga mata ng nagtatanong sa akin. Ilalabas ang matagal ring pinagpraktisang ngiti. Kaunti lang. Sapat upang magbigay ng impresyong sigurado ako sa mga susunod kong salita.
Ipinanguguhit lang ng bahay
Panira ng laruan
Pangmano kay Itay
Kinukulayan ang mundo ng kasiyahan
Binibilang ng mga daliri bituin sa kalangitan.
Sino nga ba ang mag-aakala
Na ito'y mabibigyan ng pagkakataong
Makapaglingkod sa kapwa?
If you want to start crying two days before someone important to you actually dies, go into medicine. By the time your grief process is over, others are just about to begin theirs.
When I came to see my paternal grandfather in the intensive care unit, I knew what to expect. It was a scene I had long become used to seeing: a patient breathing laboriously through a respirator, each inhale-exhale cycle being punctuated by the bleep of the hovering all-in-one machine tasked to monitor his other body functions.
These things, I later realized, do happen in real life.
There I was, in the front seat of a car whose owner is a family I have never met till under an hour earlier. We were going I-did-not-know-where, in search of an internet shop that served midnight customers. The father drove, the mother asked questions, the two kids stared at me while I told fragments of my life to complete strangers. What was I thinking? I wasn't.