” One can’t schedule or postpone love and fate until we are ready.” – Atty. Gerlie Uy-
All I wanted to be when I was in elementary school was to be a writer. I wrote poems and stories on recycled old notes and kept them in a box stowed away from the curious eyes of my little sisters who were always watching everything I do. My third grade English teacher kept on encouraging me to write and even published my poems in our little school’s newsletter. The first time I saw my name printed in a risographed copy of our school paper was one of the happiest days of my life and I continued writing and joined the school paper in high school. It turned my life around, but little did I know that the biggest change in my life would also happen because of the school paper.
It was time for my first ever regional competition. All geared up and excited to give my best for the competition, our team headed for Cabatuan, Iloilo. I even brought along my new blue diary promising myself that I would write everything that will happen in that blue diary with a lock. Everything was like a dream come true. Meeting other student writers from other schools, getting them to sign their names and write their addresses in our “slumbook”. We even had a contest getting the most number of student writers to sign. On the second day while standing in line for lunch, I saw him.
“He was not particularly handsome but there was something in him that took a 14 year old feature writer’s breath away. All throughout that lunch period all I did was look at him from a distance. And then just before he stood up, perhaps he felt that someone is looking at him for he looked back at me. Of course I had to look away and pretended to dig in the already cold food in my plate. After that I couldn’t erase his face from my mind anymore. But what am I going to do? I don’t even know his name.” That was the first entry in the blue diary.
Awarding of the winners came and all are excited and hopeful to be called to the stage and get the chance to represent Western Visayas in the Nationals. But all I wanted was to see him again. And if heaven is kind, maybe know his name too. I kept on scanning the sea of faces to catch a glimpse of the boy who stole my heart but I can’t see him anywhere. Frustrated and close to tears, I opened my slumbook to the page reserved for him. Two fat tears fell and I quickly wiped them away. All of a sudden Lovee, my senior editor nudged me. “Mel, diba amo na sya ang crush mo ho? Wow, grabe first placer ba!” I looked up and saw him being handed a trophy. He was smiling and a small group of students who are from his school I presume are cheering for him. Another contest was called and so was his name. Trophy after trophy, medal after medal, my eyes went with him from his spot among his friends, to the stage and back. Finally he was given another bigger trophy for winning the most awards. As he went up the stage the crowd went wild with the applause. I was so happy for him that I didn’t realize I was already crying! For some unknown reason his gaze swiftly went my way and our eyes locked for a second or two. I was soooo embarrassed when I suddenly remembered my tear streaked face that I ran back to our quarters. My heart raced and I don’t know if it was because I ran or because my heart was beating so fast I almost can’t hear anything but it.
Going home empty handed was nothing compared to coming home with an sad heart. So his name is Glen. I wish I did better on my writing so I could get the chance to go to nationals so I can see him again. While my peers are laughing and singing on our way back home to Negros, I just kept on staring at the window whispering his name over and over again. Only my diary knew of the anguish I felt that time.
Benjamin, our cartoonist qualified for the nationals and the night before he went to Baguio for the contest, I have filled the floor of my room with a sea of crumpled papers, rejects of a letter I badly want to write but can’t. I wanted to write Glen a letter of encouragement but for the first time in my life, I seem at a loss for words and just kept on blotting my precious scented stationary with ink . The next morning I went to school looking like a zombie and handed Benjamin the letter pleading (as if my life depended on it) that he personally hand my letter to Glen. When he returned after a week, all were excited to know if he won or not, except for me who only wanted to know if the letter was delivered. Benjamin said he gave the letter to Glen alright but all he said was a thank you. No reply, just a thank you. Being the drama queen that I was, I was like “Earth, open up and swallow me whole.” I also did what a typical teenager would do if brokenhearted. I wallowed in self-pity and vowed never to love again. The pages in my blue diary were blotched with tears as I wrote everything about my broken heart.
A month later, lo and behold, a screaming classmate brought a letter and before I could even open my mouth to ask where it came from, my other classmates were shrieking, “It’s from Glen!” I snatched the letter and locked myself inside the school paper office and savored every word written. His grammar is perfect and his handwriting immaculate that I wonder if he let someone else write the letter for him. But after I receive letters after letters bearing that same handwriting, I was convinced it’s his. The highlight of my week is the letter that I get from Glen. He would write about his family and his dreams while I tell him about my classmates and my siblings. The letter exchange was upgraded to voice tapes when he started college in UP Iloilo and he would tell me about his adventures with friends and sing me Ilonggo love songs. The heading in my diary changed from Dear Diary to Dear Glen and I decided that from that time on, I would write as if I was writing to Glen.
When I took the UPCAT and was accepted in UP Diliman, my parents didn’t approve of me going to the capital for fear that I might join the militia. They wanted me to go to Mindanao in a college where my aunts graduated from. I disappointed my parents by not going there but enrolling in a state university in Iloilo, where I can finally be near Glen. When I moved to Iloilo I didn’t know anybody there but my housemates liked me instantly after I told them the reason why I chose to study in Iloilo. I can still remember how fidgety I was during the first day of class. It was not because of the class, it was because it’s the day that Glen I was going to meet Glen for the first time after a long time of writing and voice tapes and I can’t stop myself from going crazy. We agreed to meet at my boarding house after the last period. However I was kept for an hour or more because of a freshman meeting that I cannot escape from no matter how hard I tried. Walking to my boarding house I was wiping my eyes coz the tears are in the way and I cannot see the road. I was sure that Glen had left because he had a lot of things to study. I almost got hit by a tricycle but someone pulled me. When I looked up it was Glen. He said “You told me people think you’re cute but I didn’t imagine you would be this cute.” And the more I cried. After the last tear has dried he asked me why I cried and I told him that I thought he got angry that I was late and that I thought he has left. But he said he wouldn’t dream of missing our first meeting. That night I filled 5 pages in my diary and wonder if the space I have reserved for him in my slumbook would ever be filled.
We would meet once a week in a nearby bakery bringing our books. He would help me with assignments and when I’m finished I would just pretend to read while in truth all I did was look at him. When we part ways, we would exchange letters and knowing smiles. I would call him on his boarding house’ phone when I’m ready to do my laundry and he would stop whatever he’s doing and do his laundry as well so we can do it together though distant. The same goes when I’m about to start studying. He’d call me before he goes home for the weekend and tell me that he can’t wait to introduce me to his family. He’d also call before he goes to bed to sing me a song and to say goodnight. Every song he sings is noted down in my now old and almost used up diary.
College was very demanding and I had to study hard to prove to my parents that I made the right choice to study in the university I have chosen. A week before semifinals, my boarding house’ phone got cut because the owner didn’t pay the bills and Glen couldn’t contact me. Every time he went to my boarding house I was either with the college paper people or the drama club. For almost a month we didn’t see, call or write each other. I was almost at my wits end but still I was in control of myself. I finally decided to write him and set a time and date for us to meet and I mailed that letter addressed to UP. He got it the following day and came to our favorite bakery. Over baked mac and iced tea he told me of how lost he had been the past month. His grades dropped and he kept on playing cards till the wee hours in the morning. He received a serious scolding from me and I told him that if I have even just half of his brains I wouldn’t even dream of wasting time on cards. He promised that he would do his best and will have grades of no less than 1.5 which he kept. I wasn’t finished with him yet but I decided to let the diary take the rest of the scolding.
Algebra began to take it’s toll on me and I got the dreaded 2.50. My parents agreed that I study in Iloilo on the condition that I should have grades no less than 2.0. I called my dad, promised heaven and earth, wailed on the phone and pretended to have an asthma attack but it didn’t work. He told me to pack my bags and he will pick me up the following week. I called Glen and told him what my father said. He told me I should stay. He would help me find scholarships and we can find a part-time job together. He promised to help me if I would stay. My heart not only broke but shattered into pieces when he told me that. I asked him to give me a reason for staying, because I wanted to know my place in his life. He told me that I am like a morning mirror, that I show him what he really is and what he wants to become every time he looks at me. But that was not the answer I wanted to hear. I told Glen I have to leave. In our last meeting in that little bakery, I gave him the key to my little diary and told him that someday when the time is right, he will know what it’s for. In the last page of that blue diary, I wrote that I love him and would stay and do whatever it takes if he just told me that he loves me too.
I went to Mindanao with my heart heavier than my bags. We kept on writing letters and sending voice tapes and he would tell me every time of how much he misses me and would that he would do anything to have me back in Iloilo. Every time I would ask him why, he would tell me the same thing, that I’m his morning mirror. Two years later, I decided that it was time to send him the diary. I couldn’t contain what I feel anymore and I wanted him to know how I feel. I sent it express to be sure that he’d receive it the next day. A week passed, then another one and another. On the 4th week after I sent my diary I got a letter from him. I was trembling when I opened it. It was a long one and I know that the gist of what he meant will be on the very last sentence as it always had been. I skipped the lengthy parts and went to the last sentence. “I’m sorry Mel but I fondly think of you as the little sister I never had.” I thought there was no pain that was greater than what I felt at that moment. I thought dying was better. I didn’t write back. He still sent me letters but I don’t open and read them anymore.
I met a really caring guy and I married him after graduation. I had a baby, taught English and stopped writing. Gone were the days when youngsters sent love letters. It was replaced by celphones and emails and chatboxes. I’m not really a very techy person but since everybody uses celphones and emails, might as well go with the flow and not get left behind. I don’t keep diaries anymore just blogs that were started and never taken cared of. The feel of the pen and paper is just so different to that of the cold keys of the computer.
One day just after class my celphone rang and an unfamiliar number appeared. I answered and a dear familiar voice spoke my name. I asked how he is and he told me that he’s a licensed accountant in the US now. He told me that his mom passed away because of cancer and that he’s lonely. I jokingly told him that he should get married so that he won’t feel lonely anymore. And he told me that that is the reason why he’s calling. Because he’s ready to have a family and that he wants to marry me. I thought my heart was used to the pains this man had brought me but this pain is the most excruciating of them all, like a knife digging deep in my old almost healed scars. I told him that I am married and I have a daughter. I asked him why he told me that he only thought of me as his little sister. I asked him why he didn’t tell me to wait for him. Because if he did, I would have waited for him no matter how long it will take. If only he told me what he felt. He’s still single up to this time. He will still occupy a special place in my heart and my husband knows that. But I choose to be with my husband, the man who never let the chance pass and told me that he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me.
There are days that I find myself humming the songs he used to sing to me. Sometimes my heart would begin racing when the postman calls my name and announce that I have a letter only to end up disappointed after finding that it was just phone bills. I still smile when I say his name and I know that what we had was enough for me.