Freshmen

He was a classmate in high school. Freshman year. He was short. Thin. And walked with a tilt in his step. When he spoke, it would be between huffs and puffs. He had trouble breathing. But still he persevered in going to school. Walking the long way from the front gate to the second floor of the high school building.
To compensate for his obvious health issues, he acted, dressed, and tried to be cool. I remember he would wear cheap aviator glasses way too big for his gaunt face. He didn’t particularly care that students would gawk at him. Snicker. Giggle.
I admit I did gawk at him when I first saw him on the first day of school or the first time he wore his aviator glasses. I didn’t laugh or made fun of him though. I was no bully.
A cousin, who was a batchmate, once told me that he was mayabang. I didn’t mind. I thought it may be a defense mechanism to the way he looked, walked, and talked. He was no ordinary teenager.
We talked a few times. Maybe laughed at some stupid joke. He liked to crack jokes. Corny ones. But we never became close friends.
After graduation, I left town to study in another province. When I’d be in town and visit my old school, I’d see him in the college corridors. It turned out he pursued his college studies there. Sometimes I’d wave. Or nod. Or strike a short conversation. He was still the same. He still tried to act cool. Look cool. I don’t think he even grew an inch.
Two or three years after high shool graduation, I heard from my batchmates that he died. I think it was a heart attack. I am not entirely sure. I thought to myself that his heart finally gave in. You see, he had a hole in his heart. It was congenital. He told me that during one of our conversations in high school.
And the tilt in his step? It was due to a C-shaped spine. That was why he didn’t grew an inch.
Life is short. And in his case, the clock started its countdown the moment he was born.
******
She came from a well-known clan in our province. She was average-looking and was a little bit on the heavy side. We were classmates freshman year in high school. Since I’d pass by her house on my way home she’d insist that we walk home together. I begrudgingly obliged after some prodding.
She was makulit. I remember she insisted that I give her my Grade 6 ID because I looked cute in it. I refused. Embarassed even. We too never became good friends.
In junior she transferred schools and house. I never saw her again. In college I’d hear that she got pregnant and later on got married. Good for her I thought.
Sometime last year a high school friend wrote in his blog “Loko loko ka ! Ba’t mo ako inunahan? (Darn you! Why did you leave before me.) We just had a few drinks a a few weeks ago!”. I was curious and asked around. I learned that she had a heart attack and died, leaving a devastated husband and beautiful kids.
Life is short. And in her case, it was unexpected.
******
Hindi ko alam kung bakit sila ang ginawa kong topic sa blog. Hindi ko nga rin alam kung paano ito tatapusin. Yung tipong tagos hanggang buto ang ending. Wala talaga akong maisip. Kaya gagayahin ko na lang ang isang kanta ng Parokya ni Edgar at bigla na lang mawawala…
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