I love him. I love him very much.
I never appreciated the smell of the hospital–a mixture of medicines, disinfectant, and blood. My sweat glands were working overtime releasing salty liquid body wastes every now and then. My husband held my left hand as the midwife on duty teaches me how to breathe as if it was my first time and that breathing was never involuntary. After a few hours which really seemed like forever, the pain subsided and in the doctor’s arms was the child whom I’ll be calling my son for the rest of my life.
The hourglass kept doing its job, letting go unrelenting grains of sand in its lower vial. As they drop, the world changed with it.
My son grew physically and mentally. He’s currently studying at the state university in a not-so-nearby town in our province. But he didn’t like being there. When he was still in high school, he told me that he wants to study at this prestigious university at the National Capital Region. I did not let him. I explained that it’s going to be costly. But he would counter, “Mom, there’s better quality of education there. Besides, I’ll apply for a scholarship.”
“But you don’t know how to wash your own clothes. Or cook a decent adobong sitaw,” I remembered saying to him. I saw in his eyes disappointment.
“How about I study in Baguio? It’s nearer.”
I shook my head and in return, he gave me his famous I-hate-you look. I was hurt. I know he wants to follow all of his dreams and I really like the idea. But if you’re a mother, would you send your own son away knowing that he’s still not capable of surviving the urban jungle of skyscrapers and crime-infested cities? I can’t even imagine the thought when I do.
After his first semester, it seemed that he liked the school probably because most of his high school friends study there. He would come home smiling and doing his homework immediately. But sometimes, he would open the refrigerator looking for food.
“Are you hungry? You didn’t take an afternoon snack?”
Still searching for something to eat he said, “Nah, mom. I don’t have money.”
Then I realized he was trying to tell me that his allowance won’t suffice for a day at school. I told him, “Son, please try to be thrifty. You know we aren’t rich, right?”
He closed the refrigerator door and turned around, “I know that mom. I’m trying not to spend beyond my means. But transportation and cafeteria food in Batac is simply overpriced.”
I want to increase his daily allowance by several pesos but with the United States recession affecting the Philippines’ pathetic economy, I can’t. So every morning when I hand him the money, he would stare at it as if waiting for Manuel Roxas and Sergio Osmeña to have sex and create a handful of Jose Rizal’s, Emilio Aguinaldo’s, or if he was lucky, the three-headed peso bill.
My son’s doing well at school. He would lay his test papers at our coffee table for us to see, especially his accounting exams. But whenever he scores low, he would stash it in his room folded crosswise out of everybody’s sight. One time when I was cleaning his room I found this piece of paper and accidentally threw it at the trash bag. The moment I realized it wasn’t a scratch paper whatsoever, I immediately picked it up. The first line read, “MIDTERM EXAMINATION IN ACCOUNTING 101”.
I understand that accounting is not an easy subject. I’ve heard stories about BS Accountancy students having grades lower than what is required. They would either shift to another course or transfer to another school. I do pity my son when he would stay up late reading his thick (and pricey) books. He would grab his calculator, a pen, and pieces of paper and lock himself in his room to remove distractions. Whenever I go to sleep, his lights were still on.
I knocked, turned the knob and opened it slightly, “Go to sleep.” It wasn’t a request. It was an order.
With his attention focused on the book he said, “Hmph. I have an exam tomorrow. I need to review.”
“Why not wake up early? You look tired.”
“I can’t concentrate during early hours. I’d rather review at midnight.”
“Well, at least drink your milk,” I told him. He nodded. And I closed his door.
The morning after that, he ate breakfast with his financial accounting book propped open in front of him. “Hey, eat your breakfast first then resume reading after.”
“Mom, it’s already finals. I don’t want to fail. And you wouldn’t like me failing.”
See, my son’s lazy…even in eating meals. If he were on animal, I guess he would turn into a sloth. During weekends, he would just sit down, relax, and let us do all the chores inside the house. But he can be helpful sometimes especially when you buy him what he wants.
Anyways, one night he came home with a look that was neither happy nor sad. More of like…tired. He immediately went to his room upstairs. I followed him secretly but his lights weren’t on. I knew better than to knock. Then I heard his voice. At first I thought he was groaning and doing something boys usually do; that I don’t want to see. Then I heard it again. He was saying something but it’s incomprehensible. I pressed my ears at his door and tried to decipher what he’s saying. I can’t understand it fully but he said something like, “I…die…” That gave me the shivers.
I closed my eyes and intently focused on his words. Then it dawned on me that he already wants to die…now. Not necessarily suicide, I guessed. But either way, I did not like the thought. I decided to knock.
“Hmmm?” he managed to say.
I entered his room, flicked the switch and light was summoned. He was lying on his bed crouching, his eyes red from crying. I don’t like seeing him like that. “What’s the problem, son?” I asked him tears welling up in my eyes as well.
He sat up and told me stories about why we weren’t rich like his friends; why I was so strict on him; why I never appreciated all his efforts; why he lived a life that wasn’t as satisfying as others. He told me the reasons why he would rather die than be in this world suffering.
I tried to give him answers to make him feel lighter. Not minding the tears that fell down my cheeks, I finally told him, “You’re alive but unhappy. That’s typical. A lot of people are like that. But I’d like you to remember that somebody’s happy because you’re alive. I love you, son. Please don’t die just yet.” Then I gave him a hug. He flashed a smile and hugged back.
Apparently, my son’s not the typical son I’d like to have. A stubborn, lazy, and spendthrift child was the least I want. But the world’s simply like that: giving you something you didn’t expect. But no matter what attitudes he possesses, either good or bad, I love him. I love him very much.
(Note: This partial autobiography was written for my Lit1 class.)