Chapter 1 - Malaya Himig
“Okay, Class. Stop writing on your notepads and face the board as I would start our new lesson.”
A fine lady with porcelain skin, coming from the doors widely open to welcome our homeroom teacher — Miss Cortez.
Some says that she’s too strict for a 7th grader teacher and some says she’s too young to be a teacher. My sympathy’s goes to her as I would not want people to question my abilities and to never comment about my personal life, disrespectful comments, to be precise.
Our school works differently from other countries in the western part such as America and Europe. School year starts at June and ends on April. School hours starts as early as 6 in the morning until 6 in the evening. Break times are not a thing aside from a 30-minute-break between 9am to 9:30am and lunch break on 12pm to 1pm. Summer breaks? Begins at May and ends in the same month. Cruel isn’t?
I settle on any vacant seat as others did. I chose a sit not too close yet not to far from the board neither in the middle. Guess where? On the second to the last row, near the aisle but not too far from the windows.
I am enrolled in a public school. Aircons are not a thing, neither did an electric fan. Not to mention that out country lies within the equator, so do not expect a nice weather aside from summer and summer.
“Please pay attention. I would not repeat myself again.” She demanded.
“Since this is our first meeting, I ask everyone to think of three interesting things about yourself that you like to share with us today and present it in a creative way. I am giving you 10 minutes to prepare. Avoid making unnecessary noises and focus on yourself.” She continued, “10 minutes starts now.” She ended.
I was flustered. I did not know what to do or at least I did not expect it to be like this. I prepared myself with the expectation of just stating my name, age and previous school.
My adrenaline rushes and I did not know where these words came from. I wrote down each of them and was planning to trample it when Miss Cortez called out my name for the first presenter.
“Malaya Himig. You’ve got a nice name, Anak. Please present yourself to your classmate and smile a bit, bet it looks good on you.” She politely asked and I complied.
A smile slips through me. My clouded and judgmental mind left it’s insanity and presented myself awfully to the class.
“As a woman carries a seed,
She planned to name her as she please
However, a man demand his pleas
And named her Malaya Himig
Malaya as some calls which means free
This man might want his seed to grow on it’s own plea
And Himig as he hopes it to bear the sign of his family
A tuned tone to complete the choir as they believed
I was the seed,
Luckily, I grew up loving my voice so deep
Exact for an Alto or just maybe
Might I say, I am also free
Though my time does not freeze, my curfew, ain’t like cinderella, is six”
I heard a clap, followed by another, and another, until they all did.
“You have a nice talent, Anak. Do you like writing poems and spoken words?” Miss Cortez asked and I answered her with honesty.
“Thank you, Ma’am. I am not into poems and I also do not plan to become a poet.” I excused.
I felt her paused, amused if I would guess.
“Other might call it talent, but I have no to little knowledge about it” I added. She smiled to me and continued the presentations one after one.
Time quickly passed by and lunch came already. Nothing significant really happened aside from repeatedly introducing ourselves in every subject.
I was about to go to the canteen or others might call as cafeteria when Miss Cortez called me out.
“Malaya Himig, would you mind if I talk to you for a minute?” She asked.
I wasn’t expecting it, but respect matters and so I quickly got to her. I have no idea on what’s about to happen and I couldn’t care less.
“You have a great talent, Anak. You could be a great poet if only you would like us to enhance your pre-existing talent.” She said while looking at me intently.
“I am sorry, Ma’am. To be a poetess is not on my mind. My goal is to graduate with honors and not to be known as someone who likes to compose rhyming phrases or sentences.” I carefully declined.
She dismissed me immediately after our conversation and I just hope that she would never open about it anymore.
I got to our canteen already passed 12 in the afternoon. Almost all of the seats are taken and as an introvert who does not like attention, I was already planning where would I eat in this place. I was thinking on eating next to our library but that’s just plain disrespectful.
I brought a sandwich and a cold drink we called as gulaman which costed me 40 pesos. Too much for someone like me who has no penny, but there isn’t any available food left for the late comers anyway.
I was about to exit the canteen when someone shouted my name that caught lots of attention. I did not budge, but I looked at that person. She’s one of my classmates and I did not like her.
She’s kind, she’s smart and she’s fun to be with. She’s far from what I am and I think of her as a competition.
You couldn’t blame me. I needed this because I wanted to go to college. I need scholarship and I need to be the best. So, anyone who speaks pride and intelligence would always be a competitor to me.
I looked away and left the place. I heard her called my name again, but I did not mind turning again.
I was looking for a place to hide when I found myself in our science garden. Not much students came here aside from our seniors.
I heard peace and calm, a nice way to eat a sandwich with no mayo or ketchup. What would this taste like?
I was thinking of something while biting my sandwich. I was thinking of those compliments and judgments that people told me I am. Some said I was too silent for a child and some said I built differently from my family. Some compliment my deep voice, but most of the people I know did not like it.
I don’t live to impress people. I live to impress my parents.
I was reminiscing silently when I felt a hand on my shoulders. I looked up only to see a pair of hazel eyes with long eyelashes and thick eyebrow.
“Hey, seems like you also find this place nice to hide, huh.” He said but I was busy looking at his eyes. There’s so much to tell and felt like shouting for help.
“The name’s Vaughn, we’re classmates aren’t we?” He said while sticking out his hand for a shake, but I was still mesmerized by his eyes. I didn’t know someone could hold an eye like this.
“Earth to Malaya Himig.” He said while waving hands to my face. I almost jumped out of shock and I heard him laughed.
“Do you remember me?” He asked, but I did not know what to answer so I just shook my head.
“Yeah, thought that would be your answer.” He said
“I was your classmate in elementary. We were classmates during first and second grade, but since you’re always on the first section and I was already in another section on our third grade, maybe you can’t remember me.” He explained as if I would want to know but I show no curiosity.
“Ahh, is that so? I couldn’t remember clearly.” I reasoned while cleaning my trashes after I ate. “Would you mind if I go now? Sorry” I said and was about to leave when he grabbed my wrist and said “We’re classmates, let’s go back together so we could talk for a little longer.” He demanded.
I did not mind since I liked his presence, but he could be a big distraction if not controlled thoroughly.
I let him walked beside me while talking about too much things on how he ended up in lower section on our elementary and how he ended up at first section now in our seventh grade.
We reached our classroom 10 minutes before lunch ends. I sat down on my seat and he also did. His seat is placed five seats away from me on the same row.
Our class continue and we just introduced ourselves all over again, but this time I payed attention to one person.
I watched her talk and make our classmates laugh. I watched her proudly speak about her experiences in campus journalism and volleyball and now I realized that I was left behind if to compare to her.
“My name is Elizabeth, but other prefer to call me Eli, age of 12 but looks to young for it” she joked and I watch how our classmates laughed. I looked at Vaughn only to see him looking at me.
I did not felt happy instead I felt threatened. Not about a feeling that could grow and foster, but a competition I might lose if not played well.
I should probably befriend her.