2004/03/08

The Good Life in Dorm C

Second year college, 1981-82. The forty original classmates who started five years ago had grown smaller each year. From our High School batch, only 8 persisted--Nox, Nick, Batchoy, Mario, Jeffrey, Soc, Eric and Junior. After our first year in IHMS, Ram, transferred to UST Central Seminary (“mituo sa nag-ingon nga ‘UST ka pa, wa unta kay manualia!’). He joined another city boy, Rene, who was already in San Jose Seminary, at that time. Cecil, on the other hand, left San Jose Seminary after his first year.

But for us, left behind, it was life as usual. We occupied Dorm C, the one located on the upper left wing of the auditorium. Our room had only one window. And it had a good view of the auditorium.

Because there were few of us, we became all the more close to each another. There was less stress and pressure from school and lie. We enjoyed every bit of our life. Our experience was best captured in a song that Eric composed. A line of the song goes this way, “Kaming mga second year karon gamay ra pero malipayon.”

We had simple tastes . . . and simple joys. Among our favorite was a popular drama on radio at 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon that would cause us to congregate in one of the rooms. The drama was entitled Verboten, a true-to-life story of letter senders. In a rural setting like Taloto, where the afternoon was so quiet as most people would take a short rest, we knew that the neighborhood listened to the same radio program. We could hear their transistor radios tuned in to the same station. The music was our cue. As Jeffrey commented, “Grabe gyud ang music anang dramaha kay manuhot-suhot.” We were not really drama fanatics but we were only interested to listen because of its libidinal undertones. And why not? We were budding youths curious also of discovering the meaning and significance of our own humanity.

Because we were too familiar with one another, there was no rivalry whatsoever, healthy or otherwise. But the downside of it was that we were not so serious of the things we did. I remember Fr. Ites in our music class. He conducted an experiment with us. He played a classical music and instructed us to visualize the song in our imagination. With our eyes closed we were to translate our imagination into a drawing. JunTabs, out of foolishness, made a drawing that looked like a work of a kindergarten pupil. Fr. Ites got so mad and, sensing that we were not serious in class, dropped the whole experiment.

W were also not particular with the way we dress. In fact we dressed ruggedly. There was one occasion when Nox caught the attention of Sr. Lucy, our professor in Psychology. With ruffled, uncombed hair and blood-shot eyes (after an afternoon siesta), he went to Sr. Lucy’s class wearing a green ROTC long sleeves, with off-matched faded and tattered maong pants and a worn out military boots with while shoe lace. He looked more like a “lost command” than a seminarian.

I knew that Sr. Lucy noticed it. So I took the opportunity to pull a prank on Nox. I told her, “Sister, addict ra ba na sija. Estoryaha intawon na sija kay basin naay problema.” Sr Lucy was alarmed. Of course, it was only a joke. But Sr Lucy believed every word I said. Immediately after class she asked Nox to stay.

Nox at first couldn’t understand why he was called. He had never been counseled in the past. Why now? He tried to recall what we did wrong. He couldn’t think of one. He became terrified when Sr Lucy finally asked him the question: “Is there something wrong? You seem to be disturbed. You are not interested in class unlike before at the start when you were very participative. Do you want to talk about it?“

Nox knew where the conversation was going. He was shocked. He fumed in anger at Soc. He was obviously flushed too when the 3rd and 4th year students came out of their classrooms and saw him in a serious huddle with Sr Lucy. They started to whisper to each other. Nox all the while was not making progress, “No, Sister, that is not true. That is only a joke started by Soc.” But Sr Lucy would not hear it, “It’s ok. You can be honest with me. You can tell me about your problem.”

There was no escaping from the spiritual consultation. Nox knew he was trapped. He must have cursed me during the whole period he was talking to Sr Lucy. But Nox saw an opening. Gisakyan na lang. He reasoned out that probably his performance was not due to anything else but to his innate love for nature. He blamed his room in dorm C for not having a room where he can see nature: “I feel trapped, Sister, because I cannot see the sky and the trees from my window. I can only see the auditorium that is always deserted. It’s emptiness creates a similar psychologically effect in me.” The conversation then shifted to ways to cope that particular problem. “Probably it’s the feeling of solitude that is starting to creep in and which I haven’t really accepted yet“, he reasoned out. Sr Lucy finally believed him. I could imagine Nox must have been rearing to wind up that conversation and get back at me.

Well, it was a joke since Nox and the rest of the class were addicts of only one thing “bahaw” and hot sardines. It was also a joke that ended well in a good laugh. (soc)

We were very happy as a class. But time was not fully in our hands. It passed by so quickly. The school year ended almost unnoticed. So was our life in Dorm C. We soon realized that Batchoy, Nick and Eric would not return the following school year. (soc)