It was an unusually humid June morning. The sun’s painful rays kissed his face, and he could feel the little beads of sweat on his forehead. He wiped them with his free hand, while the other, the one on his right, was clutching the hand of his father. He could feel the excitement drumming on his young heart as they walked the road to his dream.
There was a gentle squeeze on his hand, and he saw his father’s warm smile when he looked up. Ang bait talaga ng tatay… he thought. He smiled back, letting the man see how happy he was feeling. And to his surprise, the man laughed.
“Ano naman ang nakakatawa ‘tay?” He asked, a bit confused, but still smiling.
“Sabi ko naman sa’yo anak, magsipilyo ka lagi. Kita mo, wala ka na halos ipin! Baka tuksuhin ka ng mga ka-eskwela mo ‘nyan”
Ashamed, he immediately closed his mouth, which only made his father laugh harder. He remembered that he lost another pair of little teeth when he woke up that morning.
In an attempt to defend himself, he answered. “Eh ‘tay… kinuha kasi ni Etoy yung ano… yung sipilyo ko?” Then he looked at the man’s eyes, as if pleading for him to understand.
“Bakit naman kukunin ni Etoy yung sipilyo mo? Masama magbintang anak..”
“Di po ‘tay! Totoo po sinasabi ko..” He turned his eyes away from his father and instead fixed it on the ground. “Ano po kasi.. Nung naglalaro kami.. ginamit kong espada ‘yung sipilyo.. natalo po si Etoy…tapos inagaw ‘nya.”
Again, he heard his father laugh. “Hayaan mo ‘nak, bibili kita ng bago pagkahatid ko sa’yo sa eskwela.”
This would be his first time to attend school. From the moment his father promised him that he would be going to school that year, he did nothing but pray for June to come swiftly.
And now there he was, wearing his white polo shirt and navy blue shorts. His father was able to borrow black leather shoes for him. To say that he was happy was indeed an understatement.
Kakaiba ka anak. He remembered his father telling him, for unlike him, other seven-year old boys would not be this enthusiastic about attending school. This made his young heart proud.
“’Tay?” He asked hesitantly.
“Ano ‘yon Kel?”
“Ehh kasi po..” scratching his head with his free hand, he continued. “Tay pagtatawanan ba talaga nila ako? Tatanungin ba ‘ko ng teacher kung nagsipilyo ako?”
And for the fourth time since their long walk, the man laughed. His father let go of his hand to pat his head. “Tay! Nagugulo naman po ‘yung buhok ko…”