Another normal day in the classroom and nothing much is happening today except the practice of the play and discussion. Which means another dull day for me and repetitive.
I arrived at the school around 7:30 and did anything I want to do like drawing something in my notebook. I am happy that everything that I am going to. However,
“Good morning Franz!” greeted by Agatha and Evan to who just arrive here.
I greeted them with a cold and aloof voice as my silence was ruin to this. “Hello.” It concerned me a bit because they might get angry with me, but instead, they laughed and trying to make me smile.
“Hey! Franz Joseph, are you okay? Just smile for a bit!” Evan tries to make me smile by pinching my cheeks and forming my lips to be a smile.
“It is morning Franz and you should smile a bit.” The encouraging words of Agatha do not have any impact on me.
I would want to say this, “Does smiling is a sign of being happy and okay? As far as I know, the smile is just a sign that you are obligated to do even in reality you are not okay. You are wearing this expression to just tell the people that you are happy despite you are dying inside.”
Instead, I decided to be mum and just allow them to tease me. I am not giving in because I do not see and sense to smile for them. I am not a spokesperson or somewhat.
We started in our first class at eight. As the bell rings loudly, my classmates went to their seats and become their “fake saintly selves”. I would admit that I am sick and tired of them acting like saints but in fact, they are as noisy as the other two sections. The teachers call us to the quietest and obedient section, but we can be like the other sections.
Filipino Class, they just have the script reading to know already the right emotions they must convey. They also now have the practice of the position and other things. While I along with the other who was not given any characters to have a short meeting for the design of the stage. Of course, I am not going to speak!
I let Agatha and Evan do the talking. They both discussed the group about my plan to the stage. However, I saw that this group seems obedient, they are listening carefully and even suggesting something to improve my plan more, without being too ambitious and grand.
“Um… Franz, would you want to join us?” Agatha pled.
Because of the questions of my classmates, I decided to stand up and join them to justify everything that will happen in the play. I just realized that my isolation affected me as I plan this all by myself without the consultation of all of them and ended up being shock about what is happening. At the end of the time, we finally found a common ground for all of us and finally can start the practice tomorrow.
After the meeting, we took a break and Agatha again talked to me.
“Hey! I know that it might be hard for you to consult everyone about your plans for the play and often do this all by yourself. However, his is a group activity. I know that I sound that I am scolding you right now, but it is okay to speak up if you have planning something especially to this kind of activity. I am still thanking you for all the things you have done for us. This time let us help you.”
It does sound like she is scolding me, but I guess she has a point as I left them out of the blue.
“I am sorry.” I sincerely said.
“You rascal!” Agatha exclaimed and started pinching my cheeks and laughing a bit.
However, things turned upside as Frida and Fredrick ran to me. Appeared to be a bit exhausted after running back in the room probably from the canteen while holding their phones.
“Franz! Our Great Granduncle, Lolo Eddie died earlier this morning.” Frida reported.
I pulled Agatha’s hand who was it pinching my cheeks. “Who is that?” I asked.
They are both shocked that I did not know the person that they are talking about. Fredrick described him to me. “The old man, six feet in height, has a quite bony appearance and always sitting on a rocking chair in the living in our ancestral house in San Fernando and cannot hear anything unless we shout.”
Meanwhile, Evan was just listening from the backgrounds and sarcastically exclaimed, “I cannot believe that Franz doesn’t recognize his relatives. How nice!”
I already remember whom they are talking to. I grabbed my phone and connect it to the Wi-Fi of the school. The phone immediately popped with all the notifications from our family group and group chats. Our cousins, and aunts reporting everything that is happening right now.
“So, what will happen next?” I asked the two.
Fredrick quickly answers my question, “Obviously, we are going to Pampanga and grieve!”
Frida meanwhile reading the family group chat and read what Aunt Christine said. “Mom said that we might go to Pampanga during the weekends. I worry that we have our practice in the play on Saturday.”
Frida talks to Agatha to beg to cancel the practice on Saturday while I went to Evan and ask him what to do.
“Your father told in your clan group chat that all of you will go to a relative’s funeral in Pampanga.”
“Well, I also received a message to my mother that we are going to the province on Saturday. I guess we should cancel the plan and instead do that next weekend.” He suggested.
Frida and Agatha stand in front of the room.
Frida called the attention of all my classmates and they all look at them with confusion in their eyes.
Agatha finally announces the suggestion that she heard from Evan while were talking.
“Due to some businesses of other of our classmates on Saturday, the practice for the play will be canceled. The practice will be next week.”
The whole class celebrated after hearing the good news and felt relief because all lot of us had something to do on Saturday, it was necessary to cancel this practice. After that, we have our third class today and went back to the norm. Seating quietly and listen to the teacher.
The classes ended, Evan called me and, “Are you going already?”
“Can I join you?” he asked.
“Mind you I only live inside of the village,” I told to him.
“I also live here in this village. I always see you walking in the morning or riding the bike every Saturday.”
After getting my bag in my seat, we immediately went out of the campus and start to walk going home.
“Where do you live here?” I asked.
“The house near gate 2 of the village.” He answered.
“There is a second gate?” I shockingly asked again.
“You don’t know about the second gate of the village?”
“I don’t know. I am living near Phase 1, that is why I did not know about the second gate. Heck! This village large.”
“It is obvious that you don’t go outside of your house because you don’t stroll outside.”
“Where do you live?” he asked.
“Two streets away from here.”
“You live near the school. That’s why you do not bother to go to the other places inside of the village.”
I already arrived home.
“Thank you for accompanying me here. Goodbye! See you next week!”
“Wait, you are not going to school tomorrow?”
“No, we are going to Pampanga tomorrow.”
“Okay. See you next week.”
I opened the gate and went inside the house. As I enter, I can feel the gloomy spirits inside and silence ravage the whole house. I have not heard any noise coming from my sibling, even to my mom. Often, she will greet me or probably say anything to me. However, it did not happen. I am glad that no one will disturb me as I do my assignments and draw all night long. Before I do that, I went to the kitchen and cook instant noodles and get rice and eat it in my room. I spend the whole night doing it until I slept by two in the morning.
“Franz! Wake up! We are going to have breakfast before going to Pampanga.”
We went downstairs and eat with them. Just like yesterday, everyone is quiet, and nobody wants to talk. The people around me are trying to move even they are feeling heavy. Everybody was still devasted because of the news that we heard yesterday. I am worried if we will continue to go to San Fernando, but I guess will still proceed to go there.
The ride was very dreary. I am not used to this kind of silence, because I am used that everybody except me is happily talking and sometimes singing. We always visit and take a vacation in our ancestral house in San Fernando. We are not absent in every gathering and important events of the clan. However, this visit will not be happy.
Since great-granduncle Eddie was the last surviving direct descendant of Pres. Fernando is my great great grandfather. I saw him and even talked to him when I was young. However, when I become a teenager, he becomes forgetful and become distant to us because of his hearing problem. A lot of us are close to him and he took all of us if we are visiting him.
We arrived in the house approximately four in the afternoon. We went to our rooms and after that, we immediately went to Lolo’s graving place, in our living room. He was in his casket, wearing barong and black slacks. I saw the ribbons of the names of his children and his grandchildren.
I went near to my cousin, Estelle, and talk to her a bit.
“Hello, Kuya Franz. How are you?”
“I am fine. I was supposed to ask you.”
“I would be honest. I am not feeling fine after we received the news that Lolo Eddie had died yesterday.”
“That’s your going to answer. I don’t know how I can help.”
“Kuya, being here is enough. Despite you are all busy in Manila, thank you for coming here.”
After talking to her, I went near to Lolo Eddie and prayed a bit. After that, we eat an early dinner and sleep a bit. We spend the whole weekend here in the ancestral house of the family. We accompany the people and our distant relatives whom our paying their respect to Lolo. We offer them food and drinks. After that, we will take care of and play with our younger cousins as their parents went somewhere or still went to family businesses.
At night, my younger cousin still does not want to sleep and wants to play outside. However, all of us are already tired of playing with them.
“Robin, if you go outside you will be attacked by a monster!” Frida scared our little cousin caused him to fastback but stumbled in the ground. He cried.
Someone helped him to stand up, and when we saw his face, we are shocked to see who that was. “Evan, what are you doing here?”
He looks surprised after we recognized him. We saw that he was trying to be incognito as he wears a jacket with a hood, sunglasses, and a cap. He tries to run but was stopped by Fredrick and Frida. They both grabbed his jacket and pulled him near to the theme and Robin.
“What are you doing here punk?” he asked by Fredrick while holding him tightly.
“Wait, can you put me down?” Evan shouted while trying to let go of them.
“What are you doing here dummy?” Frida shouted to him as well.
“I went to visit your grandfather who just died! I accompany my mother who wants to go hear and I don’t understand why.”
After hearing his answer, they put him down and leave him alone.
“We are just here to pay our respect to him. I am not here to something bad.”
“I know you are not that kind of person Evan,” I told him.
I apologized to him about what happened earlier. “I am sorry for what they have done.”
He went back inside of the house and offered him food as our peace treaty to him.
“Wait the three of you were cousins?” he asked.
“Uhm… Yeah! Fredrick and I were first cousins, while Franz is the first cousin once removed.” Frida briefly explained to him.
“Wait! One of Franz’s parents was your cousin, making him your nephew?” he asked.
“Well. I do not know. Our family is complicated to understand, I do not know which is which. I just know that they are my cousins. Even more shocking is, my grandfather married his third cousin.”
All of us are surprised about what we have heard to her. We come near to her to get a justification for what she has said. “Bros! I just heard that one of our relatives. I am not sure if it is true.” She clarifies.
Mom went near to us and told us to… “Go to your rooms! A special visit will attend to your Lolo’s funeral.”
“Who was that?”
“I don’t know Frida. Just go to your rooms and tell your cousins not to go down until they leave.”
We immediately went to your rooms while Evan went back to Manila along with his mother.
“Who was that “important person”?” my sister curiously asked
“I don’t know. But we should stay here and not allowed to go out of this room until the morning.” My reply.
“But I want to drink water.” She said.
“I am going to drink a glass of water for you.”
I stand up and went outside of the room. As I went downstairs, I felt a bit nervous because I am afraid that the adults, especially my parents saw me. I went to the kitchen to find a glass. However, all the drinking glass is in the living area. Therefore, I decided to take a risk and went there. While there, I saw people in front of Lolo. However, I saw someone familiar to me. However, I did not have eyeglasses so, I was not able to see who was is. She has some similarities to Agatha’s appearance, has straight hair, petite body, and white skin.
I run immediately so they would not notice me. I went back to the kitchen and put this glass water and walk back to my room.
We went back to Manila, Monday in the morning. Just in time for the classes to resume. Lolo Eddie was buried yesterday afternoon. We are supposed to still stay there, but our parents must work.
The first period started, I noticed that Agatha was not in the room. However, I remember that she always come late due to the traffic that she was always facing in the typical Monday traffic.
However, when the second period started, she was not around. Since no one will help the actors in practice, I decided to help them despite not used to doing it. However, Frida and Isabella stood up beside and, “We are going to practice them instead. Just go to Evan and help him do the props in the theater.”
Therefore, I went back and started doing the props in the play. I told them what the colors that they will put in the canvas. We are the whole break to do it, merely eighty minutes of doing this. After that, we can do at least a bit of it but there are still a lot of things to do. Therefore, I and Evan bring other background and paint it.
While walking in the hallway going to the room,
“Agatha wasn’t around.”
“Yes, Evan. And I don’t know why she was not around.” I told him.
“Maybe she was just sick.” He theorized.
“I hope so.”
Hours had passed, I already had lunch, afternoon classes started, and until I heard the last ring of the bell, she did not come to the school. She already skipped today’s class. I would admit that my day was not complete. I walk home, feeling irritated and uncomfortable. I felt the heavy feet stamping in the ground while walking.
As I arrived home, I am not in the weather anything that I must do. All I did for the rest of the night is to sleep until the dawn.