Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lessons learned

A few days back, my sister and I took a bus ride from Alabang to SM Mega Mall. We were talking about credit card expenses and other bills to pay and somehow our conversation drifted over to our past. We both remembered a funny event from our lives involving bus rides and conductors.

In our so distant past, there was a year when my father was illegally dismissed from his work that affected our lives and our personal characters. With the help of my aunts and uncles, we managed to get ourselves enrolled in PUP to allow us to continue our education while my father try to sort our his employment issues.

It was a very difficult time for all of us. My older brother, my twin and my younger sister were not used to not having enough. But on that year, because our parents want us to continue our studies, my brother, Malou and I started studying at PUP.

We had to live in our aunt’s house in Manila during our freshman year as our house in Cainta was still occupied. We were all miserable because we all thought our aunt was an overbearing dictator. She used to make us do household chores and little things that we thought don’t matter. My aunt has a way of getting on teenagers’ nerves as we all thought our freedom was being repressed. Of course, it is only after a very long time that we realized that her teachings have helped us in our daily lives.

What seems to be trivial things like how to cook, how to iron clothes, etc. are some of the things we learned under her guidance. Of course, we were all feeling overworked at that time and felt that our aunt was just too much.

We experienced hauling big gallons of patis (fish sauce) from Dimasalang to San Marcelino just so we can have enough money for our allowance. We experienced selling mani (peanuts), beans and other snacks, again, to help tide us over while we wait for the result of my father’s case against his employer. There was even a time when we had to eat rice with patis (fish sauce), toyo (soy sauce) or asin (salt) because we didn’t have money to buy food. That’s how destitute we were then.

One day, Malou and I didn’t have enough money to pay for the bus ride to school. We only have enough money to pay for the fare for one of us. In our shyness to ask for money from our aunt, the two of us plotted a plan on how we can get to school. Inside the bus, one of us (I think it was Malou) paid for her fare. Then when it was the other person’s turn to pay, we staged an act like she forgot her wallet at home and how the other does not have any more money. Somehow, the conductor probably sensed that we don’t have any money and did not ask us to step out of the bus. When we arrived at school, we asked some of our friends to loan us some of their allowance just so we can go home.

We remember these experiences now with a smile and with no trace of bitterness. We have gone so far from way back then and now our lives are so different from that life that it seems like a dream. The little ones in our family have no idea how much hardship we’ve suffered before. And we are thankful.

Our experiences mold us to the person that we are now. Malou and I were both thankful for all the hardship we encountered before and all the pain we experienced. No matter how poor we were then, I knew things will change one day and it did.

Whenever I see people committing suicide because of the problems that they have in their lives, I cannot understand it. Even though I thought our lives were miserable way back then, not once did I think that I want to commit suicide. I always thought it was a coward’s way out. Don’t condemn me for thinking like this because it is just my opinion. There are people out there who seriously need help because they don’t know how to handle their problems and themselves. My heart goes out to these people because I know how it is to feel miserable in life. But I will never understand why some people would commit suicide.

We now regard our aunt as one of the biggest influence in our lives. She has given us an education that we would never have learned in school.

So buses and conductors will always have a different meaning for Malou and I. Don’t wonder why we might be sniggering at the back whenever you both see us inside a bus. It might be because we are just remembering our past.

My father did get his job back after a year and we then moved to Cainta. Not to worry though because there was no bus or conductor involved during our move.

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