"I don't know how to explain my days recently. It's like there's something lacking and I don't know what it is. Should I write or not?" These were questions that only I could answer.
My classmate called me to let me know that we would be having a high school reunion. I was not excited and interested in it because I didn't want to recall those memories where my classmates kept bullying me about everything, but I had my second thoughts whether I would go or not. I never enjoyed my high school days because of them. I was a loner and I seldom interacted with my classmates in the class. I just stayed under the huge trees reading Agatha Christie and Barbara Cartland's romance novels during my free time.
I grew up in a poor family. My father was only plowing rice fields and climbing coconut trees for a living. I didn't have any money for my snack at the school so I borrowed my principal's romance novels and read it one after another under the Mahogany shades. That was my routine in every recess that I had. I never had any regret because I learned how to study hard so in the future no one could bully me anymore. I excelled in my English subject and those who bullied me were the ones who went beside me to ask me if I could correct our theme writing project. My friend Julia whispered this:
"Whatta brazen-faced classmates!"
"Just let them, perhaps they will realize after our graduation that I helped them a lot and they will eventually stop their bullying," I whispered her back.
"I really doubt it! Look at their reactions after you corrected their essays. What the heck!"
"Relax, time will teach them. Yeahh they will be called graduates but the question is that, are they worth it to be called as such?"
"Hmmmppp! You are so weird. You've been bullied throughout these years and that's all you can say? You are a martyr, aren't you Terry!"
"You know sometimes it's better to be silent, it can make them deaf."
"What? Where do you get that logic?" She exclaimed while her eyebrows were curving in dismay.
"It's not logic, it's my way of showing you how my silence could silence them too."
"Gosh, I can't understand what you just said. That is ridiculous. They are taking advantage of your brilliance. Don't you know that people won't realize their faults unless you're gonna tell them?"
"My deeds will make them realize in the long run."
Till our graduation came and I was on top of the honor rolls. Julia told her classmates.
"See, you keep on bullying her. So, where are you now guys? Does that make you all polish and brilliant?"
My classmates were looking to each other.They couldn't find any words to answer what Julia said to them.
I was always called for my academic achievements on the stage. It seemed all the best awards were awarded to me. I was very happy, but at the same time sad because I knew then that I was an accomplice of my bully classmates about why they never had even one medal. Julia always reminded me, but I never listened because I knew exactly how it felt if in their college days came they had no stock knowledge to support their new phase of life.
One day, one of my classmate's Dad went to my house to ask forgiveness of what his son was doing to me. He put a paper at my back. He used scotch tape and put it on my uniform with bold words said: I HAVE NO MONEY TO BUY SNACK EVERYDAY.
I was so forgivable, but deep inside I was really hurt. It made me more a loner. I became more introverted. I read and read at the same time I write.
"Why you can't answer me now? Are you going or not?"
Mrs. Custodio asked me about you." Julia persuaded me on the phone still.
"I have to think about it. You know exactly what I've been through."
"That was your fault. You were traumatized, but you still wanted to feel like nothing happened. Like they didn't do anything to hurt you etc."
"I will call you again if I will surely go. I am so hesitant to attend because I really don't know them anymore. They are perhaps strangers to me."
"What is that? Are you having amnesia?"
"No of course. Where it should be held?"
"At the beach near your barrio."
"Ahh okay, I will perhaps text you if I will go." I changed my mind instead of calling her.
The day of the reunion came and I didn't tell my friend that I would go surprisingly. I booked my flight going back home before that day. I brought some copy of my poetry book that was published last year. I planned to give my English teacher who taught me a lot about grammar and all. Who really polished me by joining any contests- whether be it's oration or declamation or writing contest in the division department.
I arrived so early at the beach. I suddenly reminisced about everything that my cousins and I did there. Night swimming was our favorite thing to do under the full moonlight. A little later somebody called at my back.
"Hey Terry, you really surprise me girl!"
"Aha! So sorry that I didn't call or text you anymore. I want to surprise you as well."
"Hi Julia what's up!"
Someone called my friend at our back too, and when I turned my head I recognized those curly eyelashes of a guy who kept on putting something on my back. It was Richard.
"Oh Richard, hmm you are here as well?" Julia asked her with a smile.
"And why I shouldn't be here? It's our class reunion."
"Please introduce me to your friend."
Richard didn't recognize me at all. Perhaps of my sunglasses and my hair was dyed with Brazilian colored dye. I also wore a cap with a fitted high waist jeans and sleeveless white Guess blouse. A city girl looks to be exact.
"Richard, this is my friend and our classmate Terry. Terry this is Richard."
I removed my sunglasses and I could see his eyes were like a ball. So round.
"Oh, hi Richard, how are you? Nice seeing you again. It's been years that we didn't see each other right?"
He was like an ice cream under the sunshine-melting in front of me.
"You're just kidding, aren't you?"
"Why should I do that?" Julia interrupted.
"But Julia, I didn't recognize Terry anymore."
"Well, does she look gorgeous? You can't believe that she looks like a model right?"
"Oh, c'mon Julia, this is not a perfect time for joking." He told her friend with like uncomfortable confrontation. I could see his flushing face perhaps of shame.
I held Julia's hand and told her that the program would start and the games after their lunch.
Our class adviser told me to make a short speech on the spot. It was like everything came back in my mind. A flashback that was not as good as the other students had experienced, but I tried not to cry instead I made my speech jolly and interesting for them and for me as well to hold my tears then. The games started and there was this newspaper dance on the beach. Richard asked my hand if I allowed him as my partner. My classmates clapping their hands.
They were cheering us. I was not used to it because before they kept on bullying me. I stood up and followed Richard to our spot. All the songs that they played were love songs. It was an odd thing for me and I was with that man who used to shame me because I had no single centavo for my food during recess.
We danced like nothing happened before, though I wanted to confront him for that, but I respected his father who went to my house and gave an apology for what his son did to me. The reunion that day I thought was already over when my English teacher told us that there would be having a disco party for that night. The orange clouds turned red in my eyes. I didn't know why it seemed something would happen that night. Julia told me that she would definitely come because her boyfriend was our prince charming. I even teased her that she hated him before and suddenly they became a couple.
The dance night came and all of my classmates were very excited. Some were already married, but brought their husbands or wives to that party. Julia whispered to me that Richard wanted to dance with me. I was so hesitant because I still didn't forget what he did to me though I was just so silent before. I took their bullying as my inspiration to become a successful writer and freelance model in some renowned products in the country. I agreed on what Julia said, but with a condition that only once and nothing more afterwards because of that reason.
The party ended with goodbyes and good lucks. Julia went beside me and told me that Richard gave her a small piece of paper with words written on it.
I opened the torch of my smartphone and read it.
CAN I COURT, YOU?
Suddenly I could feel my cheeks were blushing. I couldn't explain why. My heartbeat also skipped a bit. When I went back to Makati City somebody called me with an unknown number, when I said hello a male voice answered and it was Richard explaining that he asked my number from Julia and he was in Makati too...