“Hi Judy. You’ve grown fast. You’re thirteen already.” Mom said, as I wash plates in the kitchen. I smiled…forcefully as a response.
While sitting on a gravel, I feel the cool breeze striking around my neck with my thick hair dangled in perfect ponytails. I am pleased to stare the luster of the stars above, reflecting its beam toward my eyes, therewith behold the shimmering fireworks seized by the moonlight. I hearken to the thunder of the hornpipes underneath the tiny mountains of Boulevard, along with the waving trees and grasses all over.
My father left my mom. I have leprosy when I was born. In that way, an old severe wound still pervaded on my flesh and the pain was tuckered out - the main point why my stepfather kept on ignoring me.
Outside of our descent cabin, where my mother prepared for a salo-salo, I perceive a cute doll of my four-year-old sister mother gave as her birthday gift.
"Happy birthday Cynthia!" exclaimed father, offering his gift apparently expensive. I hurried to embrace Cynthia but father grabbed her from me in abrupt, as a thief leaped to steal something. "I'm sorry…" I uttered, trying to catch father's dismayed look toward me but he obviously acted as if nobody was there.
Usually, they spent the evening and the dawn for Cynthia alone, and actually prevalent, I'm still alone. Ever since I felt a little envious, despite the times we perspired to pick some plastics, cans, steels, nails and others on the trash bins and somewhere just to survive and we suffered to look for some pennies, yet still prioritized to provide Cynthia's needs and wants: foods, toys and stuffs. I did not complain nor pronounce a single word whereas I could not deny the yearning love and care that supposed to be I deserve as a daughter. I felt sometimes precisely deviant, wishing that someday a good fortune comes.
I was upset then, seeing how happy they were together. Notwithstanding, I relaxed myself by playing with my dog Julie, waving her fluttered tails in my legs. We ran and ran over again and got exhausted until we almost reached the next street. I walked in a short distance and sat on a shed where an old woman stayed at. I looked at her, smilingly greeted, "Happy New Year, madam!" Instead of appreciation, she stared me back a very irritated look. Concerning herself, she intrepidly thrashed my legs with her long cane saying, "Look at yourself! Oh Jes- Oh very disgusted. Get out of my way!" she said angrily, scolding at me. Her wild eyes appeared to put strain in my throat. I suppressed though I felt a bit of shame. I spoke no words because I knew it was wrong. I ignored it, and took myself to go at home.
As I walk toward the house, wiping my tears with my palms, I gently opened the door to check my family out. As I see them, my eyes grew pale, and my heart became futile, beating faster and harder, as if no chamber to place my happiness. I realized I am no sense in this world, blaming myself to be such a jinx. I found myself crying as I try to hinder the yell of my heartache. I stepped back, closed the door and slowly sat on a wooden chair outside. "Lord, I know you have the best reason why I should have to be like this. I know you have a best plan for me. It may not be right now and the other day…but someday." I whisper, waiting myself to be asleep, while fancied the soft sound of breeze all night.
Two months after January, it is an early morning when I insisted to prepare a special dish for my family. Unluckily, Cynthia was not in a good condition, has confined at the near hospital, guarded by father and mother. Suddenly, I used to think an idea to help them. I get some flowers on the fields, often roses with its thorns, and tied it through the thin branches of coconut and sold those in the streets. I have got tired selling the whole day and was not yet able to take something to eat, the reason I got sick a lot. But, I know Cynthia needs me this time. I walked and went home back at the far distance for half an hour, I had noticed my wallet was missing, thinking money earned has lost. I ran toward the market, even into the places I had passed by, but I found nothing. I cried and cried, but crying has done nothing to solve it. I returned home with nothing to put in their hands. I just ran yet on the road nearby the house when I heard my parents sound arguing. I slipped down so I was pulling myself up to the door to listen carefully.
"What are we going to do now, John!? I'm afraid." mother cried out, sobbing.
"I told you! Let her get out of her. She is ill-fated. Why don’t you accept that!?" father said.
I was stupefied, words still unknown to me. I did not know what the argument all about. "Are you insane?" Mother shouted him. I took more steps forward, putting my ear closer to the closed door. Discontentedly, I peep at the hole to see my confusion, to get the point of my father.
"You're very silly Yres. I never think you did. You should realize that she was exactly the reason of all our sufferings. Look at her! Look at your daughter!" Father exclaimed, pinching my mother's head, and shove his right hand to the wooden table.
Mother slapped her on his face. I heard that heavy thrust. I saw her moves. I felt her anger. I covered my eyes and my ears with my palms to hinder myself to witness what will happen next. These words sorely hit my flesh, made a tiny prickles remained between my heart and throat. Spine and incisive burdens broadened, but prowess steadily became longer. Finally, I ran across to where my feet get into.
I ran away in the street until my feet reached the highway. A bus stopped and a crowd of people got on. I used to come along with the man entering the bus, tried to hide on his back. I chose to sit at the back wherein only few could notice me. Because of thinking a lot, I deeply slumbered, unaware to be with people beside me. For long hours of travel, I awakened due to the pluck of the conductor in my right shoulder many times. He stared at me a very strange look and asked, "Where is your fare, child?"
“Ah…ahmm…I'm sorry sir.. but I don't have something here." I explained with slight tremble in my voice. He glanced in a bold attempt, signaled the driver until he wrenched the brake of the bus. I hurriedly rode down the place, and never let myself hear anything from them.
I slowly opened my eyes until I realized that the place was very unfamiliar to me. I began to feel my stomachache. Hence, I walked around in every corner to seek for food and drink. I found no one sympathized to offer even one penny 'til I found nothing and nowhere. My feet have no place to rest now. I felt some bites of mosquitoes, along with the bad scent of ditch. I endured to feel the ache of my chest, my dreary feet, my numb eyes, and my wounded body. I felt very exhausted that time until my body unconsciously fell on the ground.
Later, the heat of the sun parched my leather puzzled me it was late morning. Flustered, I stood up suddenly, counting my steps forward, my heart yelled a loud whoop of anguish and doubt, slowly, continuously, yet I could not see the light, solely the portrait of darkness has depicted on my vision. The stench of filth lingered through my veins while my foreboding steps incessantly move forth. Scruple was engraved with bulky pieces of march stalking at my back, nervous but tried not to look around. A man chased to slap my back until daunted range of heads booed and heckled me with my appearance.
"Nasty!" an arrogant woman said, snorting. "Yuck!" "Poor ghost!" shouted by awful majority. I run, and run, darted faster.. faster as I could. Whereas, being exhausted with awe and tortured by hunger, causing me stumbled. My face unwittingly dragged on a rough ground, then the wounds even multiplied.
Finally, the opulent man with compelling merit ran in quick from his car to obstruct their way. "Who do you think you are to hurt someone? Who are you to judge?" He said, pointing out the man recently struck me.
People around began to flee. Then, he suddenly moved fast toward his car and returned with some cloth to cover my wounds that bleeding hard.
"Are you okay?" He asked me.
"Don't you afraid of me?" I asked desperately out of my mind.
"Why should I?" he answered quickly.
"Don't be afraid, dear. I won't deceive you nor hurt you as what you think right now. Even I, myself, became a victim of bully.”
My mind awakened without anything to doubt about. I did not see any wrong intention from a man so I came along as he let me ride on his elegant car. I sat on a right front desk beside him, and took the ride. A moment later, he began to talk.
"I'm Mr. Chan. I’m a doctor. My wife died two years ago because of cancer but we don't have a child yet." He stated. "How about you? Where is your family? I really have to send you now in my hospital." I sighed, could not see closely to his eyes because I don't know what to say. "Okay, maybe we have the right time to talk about it." he continued.
A few minutes, we arrived at the village, surrounded with waterfalls and green tall trees of Bougainvillea, Nicholson's village, his own property according to him. He kindly accompanied me inside the big mansion. As we entered, A woman appeared from dining room abruptly offered some foods and drinks. My stomach was famished for food, so I grabbed the chance to eat all I want in a way I did not eat for a million years. He said," Please take a bath afterwards and we are going to the hospital later on. Jazelle, please prepare clothes for her."
"Yes sir!" Jazelle answered immediately. I have just ate when Jazelle intend to come near me when the doctor suddenly existed. "What is your name?" he asked, getting a pitcher of water in the refrigerator. "J--Judy sir." I said. "Where is your family? he continuously asked. Are they still living or not? Come on. Talk to me.” Instead of answering back, I looked at my watch, mother's gift when I was three years old, when Cynthia wasn't yet born. He uttered, "What's in your watch? I said,"This is the gift of my mother when I was very young. I always keep this. I always wanted it to be safe."
"Really? What's wrong with your family? Where is your father..your mother?" He said, looking right at me. “I don’t want to stay with my family. They made me feel than I am just a jinx, nasty and worthless!" I desperately stated when tears began to fall, reminiscing the moments father hit me several times. "It was painful to know the fact that I grew up and treated as a slut, a pure waste. I never think my stepfather chose to not accept me than to let me help them…" The doctor rubbed away my tears through his handkerchief. "I'm sorry to hear about that, but please don't underestimate yourself because all people in this world have own role to make. We are all existed because God has a reason. Bear that to your mind."
"I know that but please…help me. I really can’t go home. I don’t know where I have been. I don’t know where to go. I don’t know what to do now. Please help me. Let me stay here with you. I will do everything. I will serve you like what Ate Jazelle does. I will-- He speak no words, but then...I grasp him, and he did not say anything. I cried for I know that all my life, he is the only person I embraced at.
Mr. Chan leaves for a while and go outside. After that moment, I prepare myself to recover at the rest room, staring at the shower I have never seen before. Every drop of water falls so as my tears. All bleedings within me has faded away. In a couple of minutes, fixing myself up, I used to see Mr. Chan waiting outside. We go to his hospital and takes ten minutes to get there. Mr. Chan healed my wounds in all parts of my body for two months, and the expected healing was made up. Kissing him on his forehead, I praise him for his love and apathy. He clasp me tightly, as he drops each word whispered by his ears, "Thanks God for this special blessing you gave. I swear I will take care of her…until my last breath". He says, “Call me your dad. I don’t mind you disagree.” “Of course not, Dad.”
My heart melted with happiness for knowing that someone considered me as a special, which my parents never did. Dad changed my name “Judy” into “Samantha” and encouraged me to forget my past and to enjoy my new life.
It was five years ago when Dad decided to continue my study until college. I studied Nurse so I can work with Dad. I was then a third year student when I preferred to walk to school than to drive myself on my car because it was too near from the mansion. I feel worthy, satisfying the fruit of all of my sufferings, but still something made me unhappy. Dad was on work while I attended school.
One day, I see a pauper in my way, begging pennies from those people walking in the streets. I did not approach her at the first time I saw her. The next day I found her at the same place, handing me one pair of red roses, and begged for something. I get money on my pocket and handed it over her. She smiled at me then run away toward east. I felt happy that moment, while remembering myself once begging for my needs, that no one even dared to help. Expectedly the other day, I saw her once more and I gave her some pennies and she did the same way. Every time I pass the bridge, I always see that pauper in the side of the highway. Instantly, I find myself inclined to see her every day.
One time, I saw her with some marks of charcoals in her face, hands, knees and feet. I came to ask her, "Hello dear, may I know your name?" She answered politely, "I'm Thea. How about you Ate?" I introduced myself, staring at her pinkish eyes. "I'm Samantha. Call me Sam for short". "I like your name. It sounds great. You look so kind. I hope we can see my sister like you now or the other day.”
"Oh really!? Where is she?"
" Unfortunately, she was died seven years ago."
" Ohh.. I'm sorry to hear that." I nodded, painting the lonely faces of past.
"Would you like some foods? I assure you, you will like to live in the mansion also." I persuaded, smiling at her but she became sad.
"I cannot leave my parents alone. I know they could not handle themselves yet."
"Okay, maybe I can invite you in the mansion some time?"
"Sure! Ate Sam."
I was suddenly bewildered when she called me Ate. I miss my sister Cynthia. I miss my mother. I did not take myself comprehend what she said until we totally departed.
When I get home, I saw my Dad checking papers on his table, while taking his favorite coffee. I was ashamed to tell him my motives when he turned his head to see me.
"Oh..yes, Sam? What's the problem? How are you all day?"
"Uhh.. it was actually the best day similar to what I always had Dad. Everything's alright..and yeah, I have to tell you something..."
"Yes Sam, what was that?" Dad asks.
" Dad, Is it okay if I welcome a pauper here?
Dad stopped writing for a while, getting confused.." I don't know why you should have to…but if you wish, there’s no problem with that. You can take her here."
"Thanks Dad!” I said as I embraced him. I got clothes to my cabinet and at the same time, I precipitately ran off to spur Thea. I ran as I have to win the challenge, feeling the joy I could not understand. Sadly, Thea was not around when I was there, I did not found her. I looked beyond her place, somewhere.. everywhere...then finally, I saw her under the bridge. I descended there without knowing I was at her back.
"Hi!" I greeted, staring at her eyes, her eyes that seems cried a lot. "Hey! what's wrong?".She sobbed, and suddenly embracing at me. "Why are you crying Thea?" She bawled, becoming weak in steep. "My father...” “Your father what?? I ask, getting confused. “My father is dying. I don't know what to do now.. I don't know how to survive in this kind of living. I really wanted to give up. I know I'm just a jinx, nasty and worthless. I wanted to die!"
"Hey! Don't say that! And Nooo! Don't ever claim yourself as useless. We all worth this living. We..all..deserve this living." I said, shaking her head to wake her up from her blindness. I crumbed her with my arms, realizing how it touched me as a whole. I felt her anguish and I remembered my family.. now I realized the reason why I felt inadequate. It was hard to endure the fact that they did not even search me in a past seven years. I found my heart pierced a hole with a thousand knives. But then I felt guilty because I still miss them so much. I moderately asked her,
"Please tell me, where is your family?"
"We live at the back of that big rock" she answered, pointing out a big cage alongside the bridge.
"What happened to your father?" I uttered.
"Father, mother and I sought for my elder sister from any places, corners, even in a small chamber…but we still found nowhere until we casted away here."
I became weaker and weaker. My teardrops fell a hundred times. The prickles rapidly pressed because of my burdens. Then, she continued, "I have no hope to live with. Father and mother are still hoping to see my elder sister. I always get mad at them because they intend me to feel like I’m nothing. It really hurts me so bad!"
I shook her body, as I put my left hand on my chest, shouting at her, "But you told me your sister has died!!"
"For me, she's dead! I don't want to see her anymore! She had ruined our lives!... Father neglected himself. He did not eat. He did not care for what will happen to him. and now he's dying. It's all because of her!"
I faintly pondered this feeling I had. The teardrops seized my whole being, my face turned red and seemed depressed as I placed my hands lightly to her cheek.
"I’m sorry…What are you crying for?" She asked.
Everything broke the fact I trusted with. I have nothing to think this time. I suddenly got a passel of money on my pocket and handed it to her.
I said, holding both of his hands, "Give it to your father. I hope it can help."
Then I heard a voice of a woman calling across the bridge,"Cynthia! Cynthia! Come home!"
"Ooh…thank you so much! She exclaimed, grasping me so tight. I did not stay any longer, dragging myself to avoid the arrival of her mother…of our mother.
I leaped to get myself up the bridge. Later, I walked slowly, proceeding the mansion, Dad was writing on his desk when I came. I suddenly grasped him with my arms.. "W-why Samantha?" Father thoroughly muddled by my reaction.
"Dad.. all I know..my stepfather is cruel. I did not think my family would spend their days and nights just to search me. Because of my stupidity Dad, father is dying.."I sobbed. "I'm sorry Dad. I love my family. I pity them.. you can't believe me if I tell you right now the fact of their lives. I felt so guilty Dad."
Dad felt a sudden emotion. "What is your plan Sam? Do you want to visit your family? Do what is always right Samantha." Dad uttered.
"Yes Dad. I wanted to see them. I would be guilty all my life if I won't see them right away.."
Dad was very compassionate. I deeply appreciated his benevolence. He nodded. “Okay, we’ll be there."
"Thanks Dad! You're such a kind person. I love you." I pleaded.
A couple of days passed, I've got to the hospital to where my father confined. I took a glimpse across when I saw my mother came nearby.
"Thank you..so.. much.." she said.
I stare at her, and I try to read her mind the things I had no idea about. I open my eyes wide. She continues, " If not were you, my husband will have passed away."
I get bothered to what she have told me. I have noticed her old face, one tooth, and scraggly hair, waving by the wind.
"Yes…Mr. Chan tells us everything about your past..until now. All this years, Judy. We suffered for a very long time. I don't know what happened and I don't understand.. but the only thing I want to thank, God made the best way to secure you from suffering. I'm sorry Judy..I'm sorry. I am not a good mother to you. All of these are my fault. I will be here Judy no matter what."
I have been touched by those words mother said, but still the pain did not erase the truth..that I once not became part of the family. Father suddenly appears, sitting at his wheelchair, with Dad together. He cries, wiping every drop of his tears, staring at me. I tried not to look at his eyes but Dad induced me to approach him..
"Judy..my daughter." said father with a slight tremble. I did not respond. I did not give any comment.
He continued, "I don't know that after these years, you will become successful. I admit my mistake that I did not trust you.. I am very proud of you, Judy."
I thought I will be happier at that moment. I thought I can forgive my father but my heart cannot. I felt it was wrong why I can no longer convince myself to accept him. I thought of a notion that would complement me but the gloom even harder. I reckoned that everything will turn out right but the pride was severely increased, and it never ceased the pain. I turned aside and continuously pulled myself in that direction, the moment I wanted to step, the moment the pain grievously interrupt. But suddenly, he said,
"Judy.. I know it was too late to say sorry for all what I've done to you. I have no idea if you either accept me or reject me now but I am really, really sorry for everything. I would accept if you refuse to give me a second chance to verify my regrets, I understand your burdens…”
My eyes then deliberately brimming with teardrops, my heart shivered. My soul came back into what really it was in the past. I become weak. I feel lonely now. I hate my selfishness. I hate my pride. I hate the truth that I did not listen to my conscience. I hate myself… I really hate myself.