A narration of daily classroom scenarios of a typical Filipina high-school girl.
| The Unholy Hours...
There was this voice. It was the same husky, age-withered and low-toned voice that I use to hear for six months already. Those words seem senseless mumbles that penetrate into my left ear, passing through layers of brain drains until it slips off to the other pipe again.
A gentle tap on the shoulder interrupted my meditations and brought me back to my senses. It came from my seatmate who used to do the same tapping as long as I started hearing the voice. It wasn't clear to me why was he doing it at all. I might be blocking the writings on the board, or maybe he was attempting to ask me a question but decided he doesn't have to since the he-hag was discussing it already anyway. Or, maybe, he did notice I wasn't listening at all.
"Julius Caesar got his name from the ancient meal Caesar salad...you know... one can actually title him 'king of salads,' " my reflexes told him. A perfect cover-up for that not-listening crime. But hey come on! Who cares who listens and who doesn't? After all, the old gentleman on the front is as profitable as an old dusty history book without illustrations and cluttered text layout.
Minutes passed by...which seemed hours already..
I did not notice his exit until a constant celebration came rushing throughout the classroom. I heard Mrs. Wobble-bee failed to show up today. That means we were dismissed at last.
The boys were the first ones to break the classroom's state of immobility. They raided the teacher's drawers where they kept their paraphernalia. Give them a minute to make you a wear-and-tear version of a table tennis court literally mounted on the teacher's table.
I didn't have plans to go out to get some Skibbler chips as what others usually do not only to fill in their breadbasket but to breathe in healthier air as well. I am no junk food fan anyway.
Rather, I sat stiller and fixed my eyes airborne--to the weary reverberating path of an orange ball which had always tricked me to delusion. Slowly, I shifted my gaze to the source of movement. Then I started to see traces of evolution on the boys' faces, the way they move...talk...
A couple of years ago, they met. They started fraternizing. They played together, learned the boy thing together, done clumsy mistakes together and laughed at themselves so stupidly afterwards. It was mere two years ago when they showed up for school with their bushy, untrimmed hair and plump faces obviously not caring how bad--or horrible--they might look.
One year after, they started adoring small-screen personalities who found the luxury of life in wrestling. That same year, they stumbled upon the idea of giving their brotherhood a name . DX. They named themselves D Generation X. It was the year when they stretched vertically in an uncontrollable manner until it was already them towering the girls. Last year was spent executing whacky wrestle scenes on the teacher's table and mimicking the voices of their bastard idols.
Year three...there they go! Goodbye baby fats (with one MAJOR exception, of course!), goodbye slobby dress-ups, bye DX, and thank heavens, goodbye wrestling! Hello Elec7, hello sports...hello girls?! Damn right. They did emerge as gentlemen-on-the-train from being sickle-brained wrestle geeks.
So much for the reminiscing. I regained my consciousness just as the ball hit my knuckle.
"Fiona!" Vog croaked.
"Urgh, yes yes I know..." I grunted under my breath and threw the ball off to his direction.
Moments later, the sound box from the far-left corner of the room started to serenade me with a hardcore rock musi--noise. When it was already making my ears chafe after for some time, I stood up, took the flash drive off my neck and marched towards the source of distress. By the time I was about to tune in my music stick, the boys started humming the lyrics out. Oh no, better cut loose, it will surely be me against the world.
I slumped back to my chair with a pang of unsatisfaction. I peeked outside and saw masses of gray clouds which were hanging grumpily above the mango trees. Good thing it will be raining sooner. I was longing for a tinge of cold air to brush against my skin which had always brought me a dose of comfort. Not to tell, the ambience of the rain makes you seek for the warmth of another entity too. Perhaps, a teddy, a mother, a best friend...a boyfriend? Yes, yes, including him and anything that falls in between.
It did rain. Some groaned loathly, others rejoiced fakely.
I checked my wrist watch. In her most silent screams (what could be louder than a tick-tack anyway?) she was resentfully telling me to go home already. Yes, she has a life. I gave her a portion of my being to faithfully remind me every moment time attempts to fade before my life.
Was there something unpleasant that's going to happen on the very ground I'm standing on? Or maybe, and hopefully maybe, merely because a surprise is waiting for me at home.
I hesitated, and realized it was after all a mirage of comical personifications. I am telling me to go home. Forget my wrist watch.
I stood up, hand-pleated my skirt and straightened my blouse.
"Fiona, powder?" Des called out. I looked around and saw a plain view of the girls pampering themselves with mild cosmetics--except for the eyeliner pencil I saw on Colin's hand if we're dealing with mildness here.
"Sorry, I left it at home, would you mind borrowing my mirror instead?" I said and handed her the mirror without expecting a response.
A couple of years ago...nothing much had changed with these girls. They still use the same powder brand. They still talk in the same flirty manner matched up with caltwalks and eyewinks. Boys had long since the hottest issue they can think of. They started molding their identities under small flocks. Unlike the boys who, within three years of bonding, didn't show the slightest sign of breaking the name DX to D and X, the girls were cleanly divided into groups--the Powder Puffers, the Tribal (classroom vendetta), the Shaded Losers (we believe the other class sections actually meant 'those losers wearing eye glasses'), Cipher, La Fabulosa Sisterhood...the list goes on. These girls started getting into affairs too--with those boys from the two neighboring high schools who were noted to agitate the streets every afternoon with their motorcycle convoy. This year, however, they plunge themselves into a deeper beauty ritual. Eyeliner is a hot pick. Period.
"Thanks dear," I guess I heard Des saying as she slipped the mirror handle to my loosely clenched fingers.
"Oh, yes come on. Let's get going," I stated mindlessly. I picked my Chemistry book under my armchair and placed it into my shoulder bag carelessly.
I walked across the classroom for Marynole.
"For the nth time, Hardy Boys, tomorrow." I said flatly, foreseeing the infuriating fact that she forgot to bring it again.
Forgetfulness. A year-round disease that continues to infect every single occupant of III-Gemelina house. A temporary cure would be a one-or-more week school break, but the illness proves to regain its dominancy shortly after the teachers announce new projects, group works, quizzes, stage plays, you name it. The students under this pilot class are living in surehell. We are pressured with school works. We are subjected to advanced learning on the outside but inside, our health may be fluctuating...
Charisse approached me, eyebrows slightly arced up, as if expecting some outburst from me as she hand-signaled what time is it already. I didn't have any idea what she meant by that until I saw the black, sleek-shaped bulging figure embracing her back loosely.
"Orchestra practice, within a couple of minutes."
Darn. Lousy memory. I didn't bring my violin!
"I have an appointment with my dentist. I broke my molar band so it's kinda...urgent...to have this fixed. I...I can't attend the practice!"
A pretentious smirk slipped from Charisse's lips which somehow tells me she caught me making lousy excuses again. Come on! I did break my braces!
"Okey then. I'll tell Ms. Villalogue."
She walked out of the classroom followed by Sara, Leanne, Des and Abby who were carrying the same object on their back with poise. Five girls bearing an unmistakable air of land ownership as they ramp along the corridor. Five girls who make their fellow passersby stop for an instant and gaze at them and maybe, throw some light curses on their back. Five girls who, under normal circumstances, were actually six if only I brought my musical instrument. A reality that I long wished I didn't live with for two years.
"Birds of the same feather flock together. Please tell me this doesn’t mean correct at all times!"
I caught myself shortly after blurting out loud my yearlong predicaments. I hate it when I do this! Once, my distant seat mate even made my nerves tweak a little when she tried to tell me in the modest way she can that I sound very stupid muttering things in the most unexpected situations. I did curse my brother out loud in the middle of doing an English essay when everybody seems so deep in their thoughts and the room is freaking quiet. Uh, well, she did sound convincing!
Debbie and I bumped to each other when I budged for about 180 degrees, she didn't seem to notice and continued to dash around the room with her dorky bull-fighting antics with cousin Eu as the red cloth.
''Debbs! Play practice tomorrow morning!'' I shouted.
She bumped at the CR door pretty hard.
I took that as a reply.
Tuesday Cleaners started to hunch up the chairs in one corner of the room while others polish the floor with red wax on all fours using filthy white-turned-brown cloth strips. It was only when we were in the seventh grade that we had a well-rounded janitor who cleaned our room at P700 a month. The next couple of years, we did the cleaning ourselves. Presumably it so happened because our teachers came to think why we, being the so-called richest kids in our year, couldn't learn housekeeping when the other class sections can. I couldn't agree more.
Patty shouted at the boys for the fourth time, and stayed unnoticed. The boys worsen their feet movement, smudging off more floor wax as they skid wildly to hit the orange ball.
''Out! Out! Now!''
''Okey okey! You win!'' Vog darted back with that throaty, boyish voice again. The boys picked up their backpacks and decided to evacuate to the school gym to resume playing. I accidentally eyed Mrs. Escotto behind the nearest mango tree doing her secret missions again. Every after the last class period, she tends to pass by the corridor to check our cleaning progress, not until the next day when she will announce cleaning violators that you would say she was really observing us from a distance. Violators are charged with extra one-week cleaning as punishment.
''Fiona, what do we have for the play?'' Jess asked with his usual timorous tone. I climbed unto the teacher's table, sat on the middle and crossed my legs.
''Debbie finally found something, it's called 'The Condemned' by Lyceo de Virbo. Just check out the script on the internet. Oh, I forgot the site.''
''Okay, thanks,'' he murmured and ran outside the room to catch up with the boys who were heading to the gymnasium.
Oh, Shoot! Patty----
''FIONA TAN, COULD YOU LATCH YOUR BUTT OFF THAT TABLE?!''
. . . . .
''Where are you headed, girls?''
''Hey, Daddy Wheels, could we go to the pier first? Pretty please?''
Sigh. Here we go again. Pier, huh? Could I call this luck or what? Mrs. Villalogue was attending a staff meeting which means I'm free from possible humiliation if she'll try to let me explain how on earth did my braces snapped off.
~> to be continued...