Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ma'am C

Sept 13, 2008- She was my Chemistry teacher in high school. And a very good one at that. By a chance encounter with a dance group from my high school visiting my current office, I was able to get her mobile phone. We had planned on meeting two Saturdays ago. The first Saturday I had a flu. The second Saturday I was in a wedding event in Island Cove as one of the coordinators for my events group. So there, finally, we met in Gateway, Cubao. Ma'am C texted that she'd meet me in Body Shop. I was hoping secretly that she would look more or less as I had remembered her. And Ma'am C was as I had remembered her, only this time, she was in casual clothes: she was wearing a dark pink top and had her back to me cupping both hands to her nose. When she turned to face me, Ma'am C immediately gave her hands for me to smell (which I did) telling me that it was the same lotion they put on her at the salon, where she had her nails done just hours ago. She had dark pink nails. Ma'am C had remained single. All I could initially tell her was that she was "preserved."

I took her to Starbucks where I immediately started my barrage of questions on each of my classmates or whoever I managed to remember. I learned that they had a mini reunion in Music 21 in Malate in 2004. I asked about E, A, G, R, N, and all the other classmates I could think off. Most of them had families, one was in Australia, one in Dubai, two in the United States. She had mentioned C and J as the two who had been in touch the most times with her. We started to peel away at the years we had not seen each other. We then watched local film "For the First Time," one that was partly shot in Santorini, Greece. She had started to talk more just as the film was about to start, and then broke off from talks about my batchmates and started to talk about going home sometimes to her condo unit only to stare at the lizard on the ceiling. The previous Monday she said, she found herself crying. She stopped her story when the first scenes came on view.

We finished the film, had dinner and talked some more about my classmates, us her students, and then it came-- a line or two about her P7,000 monthly take home salary (less all the loans she took). I rode a cab with her to Monumento where she took another ride to Bulacan. Before boarding, I gave her a tight hug, her spirits somehow lifted.

Reunions always border on the surreal, don't you think so? For one, it's like taking out your photo albums accidentally and suddenly remembering bits and pieces of memories from all the photos, only this time, one's memory is supplied with other surprising information. There were the pots of plants being hurled down from the school's top floor by some of my male batchmates during the Junior & Senior Dance Ball. There was the issue of our fourth year adviser Ms. M (who died from a heart attack) getting jealous over the attention our class gave Ma'am C, who was then our third year adviser.

For now, such memories acquaint themselves with my older memories, the former creating a cushion of space for it.

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