I was not really a writer.
When I was in elementary, all I ever did was read textbooks and review my notes in order to maintain my grades and be on top. It was as if my life was revolving around pages of test papers, pile of books and residues of eraser. I was focused on my own life—my world. However, like in a story book, life took a different plot—a different chapter, something which was different from what was I intended. Maybe, all of us start from a blank sheet of paper. It will take us a moment to finally have that wit to stop staring at the blankness and start choosing the right font styles and colour in order to fill the empty spaces. It was not easy but it only took me a single darkness to trigger it.
April 2009, summer of fourth grade, we rode in a RCJ bus from Ilocos Norte going to Manila at around 11 o’clock in the evening. I was with my mom, dad and older sister. My dad’s vacation was nearly over and he had to go back to Macau.
The bus was already full so we had no choice but to let ate, the term I use to call my sister, sit at the first row with another passenger. I, on the other hand, was with my mom and dad. I was still young then and small so they just let me lay on their lap to sleep. I remember that they even brought a mini blanket to cover me because I always feel ill in air-conditioned buses.
I remember dad used to buy us Barbie dolls and doll houses. My sister and I also wear matching clothes because my parents liked the thought that we are twins even though my sister was two years older.
We didn’t have a grand life. It was just a simple family of four but we were happy. I was a princess (and ate was, too) while my parents were the king and queen of the kingdom they both built with love. This was what I was thinking. I admit, I was too young to see the other side of the white sheet of paper. I didn’t look at the dark side of my little fantasy.
Like a passing night, a darkness being devoured by the sun, our lives changed.
At around 1 am, we were already at Candon, Ilocos Sur. I did not know why or how I was awake that time. I just know that I was and I could hear the monotonous noise of the engine and the dull sound coming from the air-conditioner above us. The atmosphere of the bus was somewhat calm except for two people who seemed to be arguing—my parents. I listened. They thought I was asleep. Well, I badly wish I was.
“Pa, sino nga ‘yan?” I heard mom asked calmly but the tension between them was already surfacing and there was no way to stop that.
“Wala lang ‘to, ma,” Dad retorted trying to brush it off. I also can feel him moving his hands, maybe trying to draw his phone away mom was trying to get.
I felt nervous. I didn’t exactly know why. I just felt like that. It was worse than knowing my low score in an exam, thinking what mom would say about it. It was worse than trying to hide from mom that I broke her weighing scale.
“Sino nga ‘yun?” I heard mom’s voice cracked. I didn’t know if she was about to cry or she was already crying.
“Si Sheryl Sabatin, Ma,” my dad answered. My heart started beating faster by the simple utterance of a woman’s name, “ naalala mo yung sinasabi ko sayong kaklase ko nung elementary na nakakausap ko sa facebook? Siya yun,” Papa added.
It was only when I was in high school that I learned that that woman was my dad’s first love.
I just realized that a single name can be that powerful to change someone’s story. She had changed mine.
I am not quite sure if that was still the exact words they both said but I remember how painful it was. I remember tears streaming down my face as my dad admitted his affair with another woman. I remember trying to supress the pain which was creeping inside my body but still failed to. I remember blinking my eyes a couple of times, hopelessly wishing it might have been a bad dream. However, it was the bad reality that was happening.
That was my first time feeling that intensity of pain. It was my first time feeling as if shattered glasses were trying to wound my young pale skin.
This was my first most painful chapter but I know I cannot own that pain. It was my mom’s, but maybe it’s true what other people say that you can somehow share someone’s pain, especially when you love them—and I love my mom and dad. That’s maybe why it was that way.
Papa broke my heart before any other guy could.
“Mahal na mahal kita, anak. My baby princess. My bunso,” he’d always tease me whenever I talk to him on the phone. He didn’t fail to make me giggle. Nonetheless, today I don’t know if it still means anything.
That night didn’t end right there. I knew I had to do something. They were already fighting and I was just listening without them knowing.
“Tumigil na kayo!” I cried. It was shocking for me. I thought I was going to explode.
Surprised at my unexpected blast, mom hushed me since it was still a public place and we were already making a scene. Other passengers might wake up as well.
“Shh, tahan na anak,” Mama calmly said. It was so ironic because she was the one who was badly hurt but then she still had the knack to comfort someone.
My mom just patted my back since I was already sobbing, but I can’t really remember if Papa was also consoling me.
It was my first time hearing my parents argue like that. It was my first time hearing my mom cry because dad did something wrong. It was always the other way around. It was always mom who would start the argument first and then they’d reconcile in the end.
Why did it feel like when the bus ride to Manila ended that it also marked the end of the kingdom being ruled by us? Or was it just a fantasy? Cliché, right?
We stayed at my mom’s aunt in UP Diliman, where we always stay whenever we accompany Papa to the airport, but unlike the past years where in we had a sad but happy parting with papa, since he’s going back abroad to sustain us, that time felt as if he won’t come back anymore. It felt like we were sending someone who will leave for good.
I was resting on the long couch while my parents were near the kitchen, arguing again. I also heard mom talking to the other woman on the phone. I was too young to digest everything. It didn’t even occur to me if ate already knew.
“Load’an mo ako, Ma. Kakausapin ko siya at tatapusin ko na lahat ng ugnayan namin,” that was the last thing he told mom before he went aboard the plane. Hopeful that he was telling the truth, mom granted his request.
To be honest, writing this again gives me chills.
I know it was painful. I know that this was the best heart-breaking song that ever played in our lives and it was also the longest. It has been almost a decade. But then, even if a century would even pass by, maybe, this will always remain as a scar in my heart.
From time to time, I would recall that night on the bus and wish it didn’t really happen. I was wishing I could undo the past, but all I could do was remember and indulge myself with the pain. Maybe, people know how frustrating this was because I know.
Certainly, I cannot feel the same intensity of the pain I have felt that time. I cannot even grasp it anymore. I am thankful and sad. This is why I sometimes go back to my old diaries and read. Then just like that, I held the pen and wrote poems, essays and stories about my dad and how he destroyed the kingdom he built. I have learned that it was made of sand. If it wasn’t, maybe my family won’t be shattered like this with just a one big wave.
The back pages of my notebooks would be filled with short poems about him and essays as well. I can choose to forget since I cannot relive the same kind of pain anymore—I’ve moved on—and all I need to do is to tear up the pages and burn it but chose not to.
Papa did not fulfil his promise. He did not change. He did not come back. Well, I see him from time to time and that was that. Whenever I see him, I know I am seeing a stranger. But how can someone who was originally a part of your life become a stranger suddenly? Well, I felt like that. I don’t recognize him. After an hour in Mcdonalds or Jollibee, he’d go again, back to the person he chose. The king was dethroned.
Nowadays, I cannot meet with him anymore due to busy schedules. I might see him on facebook posts, on the road riding his bicycle or maybe I might happen to see him through my uncle’s face—his twin. I’ll never know. We are following different paths anyway.
I wish I can pull him back to us, but all I can do was weave painful words into sentences which were created because of him. This is what I am thankful for. If he hadn’t caused me pain, maybe I wouldn’t have the will to write.
I learned to look around as well and not just focus on the test papers and other school stuff. I’ve learned to see the world in a different perspective—a rather real one.
Now, all I have to do is hold the pen and point it on the clean sheet of paper. Then I’d start bleeding again.
This is how I write. ♥
Hi! So we have this class requirement and it is to write a memoir about our first heartbreak. I just wrote mine and decided to put it in here before submitting it to my instructor. I know that this will have a lot of typos and grammatical errors but spare me just now. I’ll edit it and improve it later on.
Feel free to comment if you also felt the same way if not the same kind of situation.