She barged into my classroom on a lunch break, catching her breath and all sweaty from a lot of playing under the sun. She, along with her playmates cum classmates, seemed to consider my classroom as an extension of their playground. There was never a day when I didn’t have to tell her “naku Bunsoy ang dumi na naman ng blouse mo!” And at end of every school day she will do her usual lambing to make me, her ‘ate’, buy her merienda while waiting for the school bus.
What’s unforgettable were the times when I hear a knock on my bedroom door around bed time. I would open it and find a troubled little girl behind it trying to tell me something in between her sobs. During that time her little school troubles already seemed like a major catastrophe to her. And it made me feel like a super ate every time she ran to me for help knowing she’s confident that I can make all her troubles melt away.
We ventured into young-school-girls-business – selling stationeries and stickers, or PX goodies that our parents and aunts will send from overseas. The money we earned we spent food tripping. We shared the same passion for climbing trees. A ripe fruit on that strong guava tree in our front yard is the priceless gem on our treasure hunt. Up in the mango tree is where we hide from our nagging aunt. And the residence rooftop is the memorable Poblete Kids’ hangout during daily sunsets. We go biking around the subdivision, through the field, even inside the neighboring cemetery. We’ve played all the street games you can name, and we have tasted all the cherry balls and tootsie rolls and so many other teeth damaging candies during those times. I can’t imagine how much bazookas we enjoyed chewing for the excuse of collecting those comic strips.
Once on her birthday she ran excitedly to her playmates’ house to invite them to her party, she tripped and skinned her knee, but it didn’t stop her from having fun on her day. There was a time when she got sick and had to spend some ten days confined in the hospital. We spent our nights there too, just to make sure she got through fine. And then there were years…
How time flies! Suddenly, I don’t see the little girl anymore. Now living miles apart, I have not heard that familiar knock. And I ceased to become the reliable super ate that can make all her troubles melt away. The fun things we used to share are nothing else but just memories. I wish the growing up is not as fast as it had been. And I wish only the bad things changed, and that the good times only got better and not disappear. There is a bright side to this, God tells me… only this time, I have to close my eyes to see it.