Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Unfinished, Kindness

I wanted to write an entry for the Palanca 2014 but couldn't quite make it. I am this unfinished piece of work and it's a bad and good thing. Bad due to the fact that I can't push myself to finishing this article even though I sorely wanted to. Good because I know that there's still room for me to grow.

This is a snippet of my story. It is raw, unedited, and almost unfiltered. Maybe this piece will find itself inside an envelope and make its way to its original destination. But for now, this tiny space will have to do.


Kindness is a word that I try to familiarize myself with. It’s because no matter what happens, I find reasons to be unkind to people; even to those who matter the most to me. And now, I’m writing a laundry list of the things that I’ve done that need to be washed and washed again. It’s a dirty job but I know that I need to do this.

Life has been good for me. I really couldn’t complain. I graduated from a respectable school, I had friends and family who supported me all throughout my studies and now, I’m working as a copywriter for a foreign company. If this isn’t sweet and splendid, then I don’t know what is. I look at all of this as a great kindness shown to me by the many powers that I can’t understand. Maybe it’s God’s hidden hand that move all these things to go towards the direction I’m in or if it’s just destiny that predetermines these rewards.

To be honest, I have a weird way of looking at things. I tend to be a pessimist when it comes to good times. I always have a weird gut feel that after the good times come, something terrible is going to happen and it’s just waiting around the corner to drain the color out of me. It’s true and that’s why I always reserve something before ending the festivities. And when the lights go dim, the drinks have been emptied and the food has been feasted upon, my anxiety towards the supposed bad things that are going to happen just grow bigger than ever. It dawns on me that the good times just pass on and that I have to brace myself for the coming hits. Or maybe it’s just a stupid belief that I have.

Although I said earlier that life has been good, it doesn’t really mean that everything has become smooth sailing. The mere 5 years I spent in college was not really a walk in the park for me. For the first two years, I believed that college was the best thing that has ever happened to me and that the beer and hard liquor won’t stop pouring and that the good things in life will get handed to me right after I get that stupid piece of paper that they call a diploma. It was the greatest lie I tried so hard to believe in. But when reality hit me in the face that I was a jobless, skill-less, wasting third-year college student who had a baby on the way with his also young girlfriend, the game changed. It was no longer a game. And I found it so hard to see kindness in what kind of a card life had dealt me. It was a complete and total change of everything I imagined.

Gone were the future parties, the possible hook-ups and meets with young and foolish people who had nothing but their youth to hold on to. Now, it was all about finishing school, trying to graduate on time or in the shortest time possible, saving up for the hospital bills, moonlighting on our free time and saying sorry to our parents who were clearly disappointed in what had happened. Kindness became an elusive thing for me. I felt that I was given a harsh lesson on life and that what I needed to do was become spiteful and bitter. I was turned black with disappointment in myself and the “good life” I had always known. I felt betrayed in the strongest sense of the word.

And so my journey began. I tried my hardest to reassure my girlfriend that we’re going to get through all of it and smile when we look back at the hard times. It was us against the world. We soldiered through our studies and finished school. Her parents were obviously hard on her. I get it. It was not an easy thing to swallow. Having your youngest daughter stay with you while she was with child was not a thing you let slip so easily. They schooled us every day with their terse remarks and austere affection. It pained me to see my girlfriend go through all of those things because of what we had done. I felt helpless, I felt small. Again, I felt as if the kindness in the world was going the opposite direction we were headed.

Although now that I think about it, the cold treatment they showed us was not an effort to shun us for what had happened. It was done in order to toughen us up. They took us in, helped us learn hands-on when it comes to dealing with things that are now beyond our control. Her parents drove hard bargains and at first we didn’t understand. But that was their way of showing that we are not the sum of our past deeds however disappointing they were. We were weaned on the gritty lessons in their home. I realize now that maybe they thought it best to give us the challenge instead of letting people who don’t really understand a thing about what we were going through judge us for our mess. Now that burden of betrayal I was talking about earlier start to feel light, they are being lifted from our shoulders and thrown into the wind. Maybe if they were showy, they would have given us a tap on the shoulder and a thrift nod. No more, no less. It will mean the world to me to see that happen but nevertheless I am thankful for what they have and have not done for us. I am immensely thankful.

My parents and I are not really close until that fateful event happened. I still remember the phone call I had made to my mom when we confessed to my girlfriend’s parents that we were expecting. Everything’s still fresh in my memory – my trembling voice, the crackling of my sobs and the loving tone of my mother’s voice. There was a long silence before my voice started shaking and the tears began to flow. “Mom, my girlfriend’s pregnant. I don’t know what to do.” “Are you sure?” “Yes.” “Come home. Straight away.” And so I did. The first few steps I took inside the house felt like a distant memory but the hollow feeling is still memorable. The ten steps I needed to get inside the house felt like great strides – laborful and forced. Walking during that moment became a task. And when I saw my mom’s face, I couldn’t help but breakdown and just embrace her for the kindness she showed me. My father was about to go home from a trip abroad. I confessed and he just gave me a tight hug. I told them the whole story and they were with me every day since. They backed me up on every decision, gave nothing but the best counsel and took nothing from me but my qualms and the seething pain. It hurt me because I felt that I had disappointed them but they never were disappointed. They told me that time and time again. It was a kindness that I still aim to repay, one way or another. The burden was starting to lift itself from my shoulders.

There is always this belief that I’ve had when it comes to dealing with the good stuff that comes my way. I see myself as a very fortunate person. I use the term “fortunate” since I really don’t believe in the idea of luck. It’s one of the many weird quirks that I have. And after being a father at 19, I somehow believed that I lived off the kindness of people. I always looked at the nice things that have happened in my life as works of charity and that these people are merely being kind to some unfortunate fellow. I couldn’t complain about that but being a proud person (it’s a trait I’m not personally fond of,) it was definitely hard for me to swallow all of those things. Even the people who knew my story were thought of doing what they have done just out of pity. Although, I do know better to think of them in that manner.

But now I understand that people are kind because that’s the way we are wired. It is innate in every human being, even the despicable ones we so loathe in society or shun in our everyday lives. Kindness just happens although you’d need a conscious effort to keep being kind not only to others but to yourself. It’s one of the greatest gifts that mankind can possess. It can prevent wars, it can mend wounds, and create better and stronger bonds or relationships. What good about it is that it can come from the most unexpected places, people, and deeds.

Going back to my laundry list, I really have a lot of people to give thanks to. But I’ll just start with a few from the top of my head. And my advisors during my last years in college will get this ball rolling. Two of my most trusted and admired professors became my advisors in a lot of things during my years in college. Aside from mentoring me inside the classroom where they both taught communication courses, they managed to take me under their wings when it came to the other lessons I couldn’t learn in the classroom. And not only that, they gave me nothing but the best counsel there is. And maybe that’s partly because they’re both mothers – one being a cool matriarch who always has a menthol cigarette tucked between her teeth and the other being a strong-willed woman who has an eyebrow sharp enough to cut you in ribbons. Both of them are not afraid to let out scathing remarks when it came to talking about personal matters. I even became subject to their little disciplinary sessions. But nevertheless, they are some of the nicest people I know. And I think that’s a bit of an understatement.


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