2005/04/06

Pining For Home

The moment my parents left me in IHMS for the first time, I knew I made a big mistake. It was my decision to enter the seminary. But I didn’t know it would be that difficult. The period of adjustment was hard. After all, I was still 12 years old when I left home to live in a place with other kids of my age.

At night, I slept with a heavy heart, thinking about home. In the morning, I woke up with a heavy heart, not wanting to go through the rigors of a routinary life.

On several occasions, I contemplated on leaving. But the alternatives didn’t look so appealing. Perhaps, I was pining for the status quo in grade school when life was not regulated and was so relaxed. But I didn’t have the nerve to say I quit.

So I tried to endure the terrible days, always looking forward to a Sunday afternoon outing and the monthly going home. I savored every second of my stay at home. I detest the 5 o’clock time when I had to carry my bag, take my mother’s hand to my forehead, take the walk from the door to the gate, look back at my mother who would be watching me from the door way, and then take the tricycle to the seminary. That was the routine every time I go home for a short break. It was painful. And it didn’t help me ease the burden of seminary life. In fact it made matters worse. I would try every effort not to cry, which I managed. But my heart was torn apart, I should admit.

I remember one incident sometime in 1978. It must have been in the early part of the school year since it was drizzling outside. I survived one year in the seminary; but the adjustment period extended to my second year. I had given my self one whole year and in fact managed to weather through it thinking that the following year it would be more enjoyable; but I realized I was wrong.

Sitting on the sofa at home with my mother, I realized that it wasn’t going to be that easy on my second year after all. I was still feeling lonely and sad. It must have been due to the rain, I thought, as we sat there. No words came to our lips. We just sat there. No TV or radio broke the stillness of the afternoon, except for the muffled pattering of the rain on the roof. We savored every second as we sat there for more probably more than 3 hours. I don’t recall doing anything productive that afternoon.

Deep within, I was trying to decide whether to go back to the seminary or quit. I reviewed the past year. It was generally a hell of an adjustment period. But there were quiet moments that made me happy. I remember the quiet place around the seminary during siesta time. I knew the adjustment period would continue to be difficult. But I also knew there would be happy and quiet moments in between.

I could have decided to leave right there and then. I knew my mother would be happy with whatever decision I made. But leaving would entail starting all over again in another place--another period of adjustment. I had staked one year in the seminary. I should finish what I started. With this thought in mind, I looked at the clock and saw that it was almost 5 o’clock. My mother understood. She gave me P5 for my pocket money that week. I grabbed my bag, after taking her hand to my forehead. Good thing it wasn’t raining anymore. I walked resolutely towards the gate, never daring to look back, knowing that my mother would still be in her usual place by the doorway. I hailed a tricycle and went back to the seminary.

Well, I survived six more years of stay in the seminary after that year and seven more years as a Jesuit. It was one decision that brought me ever farther from home, to various adventures and countless distant places. It was one decision I never regretted in my life. (msa)