We arrived there before 10 in the evening. That’s two hours before the flight. There’s tons of silly scenes. Being at home the entire day, I was always alone in the room. Of course they still had lots of last-minute shopping and packing, so I didn’t get in the way – just like when my brothers left last year. We didn’t have much time to bond with each other on the day of their flight. What made me feel worse was driving them to NAIA. It’s not a long drive, just about half an hour from home, and it felt like I was driving really fast as my feet seemed to weigh more, adding more pressure to the pedals than usual. It could’ve been a long day had we stayed together doing nothing at all. But everyone else was too busy. When they got home, it was 6pm and they had to prepare.
Yesterday was a similar scenario. Everyone was out the whole day – with my mom. I was too busy on the PC, sleeping, playing. I never spoke with my mom as if we had a huge fight. I was also like that when my brothers left. I guess it’s my defense – trying to be unaffected, though it only shows more that I am feeling lonely. At around 9, mom and I was finally alone in the room. There were no voices – except those coming out from the big box of pixels with built-in speakers. Minutes later, the credits started rolling and I broke the silence, “Ano ba yan. Natapos ko na lahat ng palabas.” She sat up, took out a bag and started a rattle of instructions.
“Neng, itong bag na ‘to, nandito yung ATM ko saka ATM mo. Pin nito… (I honestly can’t remember.) Tapos ito, may $300 dito sa wallet kung sakaling may kailangang bayaran. Tapos dito, pirmahan mo ‘to, baka magpadala papa mo. O, itong 500 bigay mo kay Tito Olan. Itong 2000 baon mo yan. Itong 1000 ibili niyo ng pagkain saka napkin mo. Mag-drive thru na lang kayo tapos sa mercury ka na lang bumili ng napkin mo. May MRT card ka ba? LRT? Barya pamasahe? Wag ka magpapawala nun ha. Mag-relo ka palagi. Yung globe ko iwanan ko dito sabihin mo sakin pag may nagtext. Saka baka tumawag si papa mo.”
I gave no response, just a series of nods while playing on my iPhone. Deep inside there was a voice saying, “Oo na, alam ko na yan.” and another, “Aalis na talaga siya.”
At 9:30 I went down to join them in the receiving area. Even Sam was clinging to her. Then I remembered my brother telling me, “Galingan mong magpigil.” And I was doing quite a good job until she said, “O, wag ka nang umiyak.” She hit it. I looked at her for a split second, hesitant to see her face before she leaves, I looked up and said, “Hindi pwede. Kakalat mascara ko.” Then I stood and headed for the gate, not looking back, not saying a word, and swallowing hard to keep my tears from falling. Two drops, three. Wipe. Another batch rushed. Wipe. Wait. Wipe. I can’t let them see me crying. What a jack. I sat at the passenger seat. They refused to make me drive, and I thank them for that. She said, “Dito ka na lang neng. Magba-bonding pa tayo e.” I didn’t move. I was too scared to hear her voice or I might succumb to the crybaby installed in me. Twerp. I’m twenty – I shouldn’t be like this anymore. I looked at the mirror to clean my face from the mess my mascara made. Tss. Why wear mascara anyway? I was convinced that I wouldn’t cry.
Toll gate. Even up to the last day, she was the one to pay. Ah, it’s really good that she’s off for a while. She wouldn’t be stressed from all these people always running to her. Right turn. Deym. It’s the last turn before we’re finally at the airport. I felt like delivering a monologue.
“Ma, wag ka na umalis. Malulungkot ako.” No words came out. Everything’s all set. I can’t just make her turn back! You little shit! Don’t make her feel bad! Grow up!
Departure area. So we’re finally here. For years I’ve been seeing my dad off, then my brothers, family, and even though I should be used to saying goodbyes at the airport, it was specifically the day that it seemed that the place was deserted. Sure there were people hugging and kissing everywhere and each time, you can see sadness in their eyes. But my thoughts were unclear, as my vision was again becoming. What do I tell her?
“Neng, wag ka makulit ha. Mag-aral ka. Uwi ka ng maaga. Lan, yung anak ko ha.”
“Oo ite-text na lang niya ko pag gabi siya uuwi. Susunduin ko na lang siya.” He, too, didn’t look at her.
“Oo, ako na bahala.” And he walked back into the driver’s seat.
“Ate Ine, sige na ha.”
“Oo sige ingat.”
“Bes si Maricar ha.”
“Ok na sige. MJ, yung tita mo ha.”
Even her sisters couldn’t. It was easy to see how sad everyone is at the thought of her leaving.
I couldn’t cry. Not a single tear. I wanted her to see that I’m strong, that I will be okay, and so she should be. Two hours later, we decided to go home. It was the saddest, most silent trip in my whole life.
“Malulungkot na sa bahay niyo. Wala nang maingay. Wala nang sisigaw.” My aunt said.
No one replied.
Past 12, we arrived home. I hurried to the bed and told myself to sleep as I was going to take an exam first thing in the morning. I didn’t cry.
Next day, people are trying to fill up for my mom’s responsibilities, to assure me that I am in good hands. It’s the longest time I will be away from her. That she’ll be away from us. And we’re all too saddened. But no one dares to show.
At noon, I again skipped my class. And I started writing down.
Then I cried.