All You Had To Do Was Stay

Ronel, hindi na ba pwedeng magbago ang isip mo?” tanong ni Mami Sue sa akin bago magsimula ang klase ng Senior High School sa Enverga University. 

I thought to myself. At ang naisip ko lang ay ito: “May karapatan pa bang magbago ang isip ko?

Kasi parang wala naman. 

Siyempre nagreply ako.

Kaya niyo na yan Ma’am. Magaling kaya kayo. Master Mentor eh.

And I meant it kasi totoo naman. I believe na kaya naman talaga ni Mami Sue. She’s a great mentor. Tinulungan niya ako sa lahat ng problema ko when it comes to teaching. I learned a lot from her.

After that conversation, I decided to visit my former colleagues sa school. First week of classes ng Senior High nun and ending ng first term ng summer classes. Medyo busy sila pero I know naman na pwede silang istorbohin kahit kaunting oras lang.

I decided to bring a cake. Siyempre, first time since I broke the news ang pagpapakita ko sa kanila. I want to give them something kahit simpleng cake lang. A simple token of my appreciation.

First step ko pa lang sa entrance ng University, I felt nostalgia in the air. Siguro kasi, that’s the last time I’ll enter the school as a teacher. Mamimiss ko din pala.

I was walking without a heavy feeling in my heart kasi alam kong tama yung desisyon ko. Tama na nagquit na ako this early pa lang in my teaching career.

When I got there, in our building, they were surprised. Akala kasi siguro nila hindi na ako magpapakita. And syempre una kong nakita si Mam She, Si Dean, Mam Budoy, at Mam Rose. Wala yung ibang faculty members kasi may klase pa yata or walang pasok. Wala si Mam Donna at Mam Cecil. 

Good afternoon po,” sabi ko sa kanila. Bumati din naman sila.

Saan ka na ngayon?” tanong ni Mam Budoy. 

Wala pa po,” ang sagot ko. Wala pa naman kasi talaga at hindi pa rin naman ako naghahanap.

Mayaman naman yan,” ang sabi ni Mam Rose.

Medyo nagulat naman ako dun. Hindi ko din naman alam kung backhanded compliment yun. And yung tone niya is medyo judgemental din pero ok lang yun. Nasanay na naman ako kay Mam Rose at sa mga joke niya.

Ibinaba ko yung cake sa table ng faculty room then I went to my cubicle. Tiningnan ko kung may naiwan pa akong mga gamit. Malinis siya maliban sa mga past projects na hindi pa naiitapon. Sumilip din ako sa salamin sa Faculty Room. Mamimiss ko kasi yun. I spent so much time on that mirror kasi.

Anong ginagawa mo dito?” tanong ni Mam She.

Nagulat ulit ako. Not because of the question but because of the way it was delivered. Yung parang “ang-kapal-ng-mukha-mong-magpakita-dito” way of saying it. The tone.

I was caught off guard ulit. Ganun na lang ba yun? I know na may kasalanan din naman ako because of how I acted during the last days of the second semester pero is that how I should be treated. I have reasons din naman kung bakit hindi ako masyadong nagpakita before. The students are the main reasons.

I felt bad after hearing that kaya sinabi ko na agad yung reasons ko for returning. Then, lumabas na ako. Mabuti na lang at may nakita akong kakilala ko para makapaglibot sa University for the last time at para na rin makapag – isip at umalala ng mga alaala sa school.

Going home from EU, I felt the peace my heart and soul needs. I’m finally free from all the stress of teaching. I’m finally okay. Malay natin kapag namiss ko ang pagtuturo, at the right place and time, I’ll return. Until then, I’m bidding teaching goodbye.

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