Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bridging The Difference

That day was a nightmare. That is what I remember. The first day of school and there I was lost in the midst of girls my age chattering like mad about their exploits during the school break just over. I wanted to keep attention away from myself but attention was precisely what I got. How could I not be noticed when I stood out like a rag doll among well coiffed girls all smelling so sweet. I wanted to run out of the room as all eyes riveted on me. I could tell by their looks they were wondering whether I wasn't lost. Avoiding their gaze, I looked down as I walked at the farthest end of the room to take my seat. The nightmare was to go on. Each student was asked by the teacher to introduce themselves as soon as classes started. When my turn came, everybody laughed loud when I told them my name. It was like I just told them a funny joke but it was my name they found funny. Everyone one else sported surnames that sounded foreign courtesy of the colonials that ruled the country in the past while mine couldn't sound more native. That moment on, I was marked as different from the rest.

I was indeed different in many ways and my schoolmates made that very clear. Back then missionaries run exclusive schools for the elite and my new school was among the best school for girls in the country. It was no wonder that to the wealthy students that patronized it, I was an eyesore. They called me the mountain girl which meant I come from people who lived in the stone age. My people were of course much more civilized, they treated people like people but of course they did not know that. They also referred to me as the nuns' servant. There was a ring of truth to that. I lived with the nuns and did housework for them. In exchange, they sent me to school. Branding arrogates to the brander some power. By branding me as a servant, the girls in my class also arrogated unto themselves the right to treat me as one. I was every body's maid. I must have detested the role but I remember playing along. I guess I was trying hard to be one of them.

I counted the days and longed for the school term to end. I was so happy when it did. I wanted to go home. There was nothing more I wanted to do but go home and be with my family. But my sister and I had to work for the nuns during the break. I had no choice.

I remember intensely praying each night that the next term would not come but it did. Again the princesses came back and so did I, their lady in waiting. Everything was going to be a replay of the previous term or so I thought if not for our new classmate named Eva. She was the senator's daughter. She moved in from another school for reason I could no longer remember. Eva was not like the other girls. She always wore smile on her face. She did not throw her class into any one's face. She was the first one to call me by my name in a way that was full of respect. It sounded musical then. She was such a well raised girl. She was the school's little miss congeniality.

I would skip the long story on how it happened but Eva and I became good friends to the chagrin of the other girls. She told everybody each time she had the chance of how her father gave high regard to my people. She also told them her mother had high respect for people who worked hard for their dreams. She must have exaggerated it, as children often do, but I knew her intention was to get the other girls thinking and it had the desired effect. From then on, things began to change. Eva started calling me Juls (it sounds icky now but it sounded good then) and everybody followed suit. The girls even apologized for mistreating me. The servant girl is now their friend. No, I did not become one of them. We were still different. I was still the mountain girl who had to work as help to the nuns to get to my dreams. Young as we were then, I believed we saw the silliness of hate. Our young minds may still not be able to comprehend how hating others who were not like us got rooted in our persons but we were certain we had to learn how to bridge those differences.


  1. Thank you for telling your stories, you are a great writer!

  2. Thanks, Leah! I could see you took sometime to read all my work. I appreciate that. I always try to do the things I do the best I can. I am glad you like it. You are doing good yourself. Your photography shows great promise. Good luck!

  3. I still remember my first day at school so clearly that it is fascinating to me read of yours

    You write so nicely that you bring your memories alive


  4. Thank you so much! Appreciation can do wonders. It makes you want to keep on doing well if only to deserve it.
    Hope to see you again.

  5. Wow, what a powerful story. Eva sounds like an absolute angel in disguise. I look forward to reading more about this.

    And you are taking up blogging at age ninety. That is so wonderful. I'll be telling lots of people about your blog, written so eloquently in a second language.

  6. How awful those girls were!
    I experienced some like them when we moved when I was 13 and the pain followed me for a long, long time. People like Eva are a godsend.

    I discovered your blog at Golden Lucy's and am delighted to meet you. I'm adding you to my list and nominating you for the Elderblogger list.

  7. Sharon (Ritergal), That is one big compliment from someone who has written a book on how to write. Thank you so much. I hope my muse would continue to stick with me. There is is still much story to tell.

  8. Kay, I believe the experience is shared by many other people not just you and me. But let us not blame it to the girls. Ascribe the blame to the people and the society that made them believe that hating others because they are different from them is the thing to do.

    I am very pleased to have met you too, Kay. It is a pleasure having you join me in my journey.

  9. Amazing. Truely beautiful. As a writer myself I found your style very genuine and sincere. I enjoyed every word.

    I am definetly going to be a frequent visitor here.
    Well done and good luck.

  10. Hello grandma,

    I'm back again.
    I've printed your texts because I want to read them carefully and to understand them completely with my dictionary ;-)
    I'm really happy about learning english now.

    Best wishes,

  11. It is a privilege to be complemented on your writing skills by someone whose writing skills you admire. Thank you so much.

  12. Swaantje! I am always glad to see you back. Your English is looking pretty fine if you would ask me. Keep it up. You really inspire to go on writing. Thank you so much

  13. Everyone needs an Eva. Thank you for sharing your story!

  14. ... and everyone can be Eva to someone else's life.

  15. I am truly fascinated with your story. I look forward to reading more about your life, particularly about falling in love...your passions, how you managed to overcome heartache, and children, and teenagers, - all of it!

    You give me hope. At age 39, I'd like to think that when I am 90, I will be able to look back at my life with the same grace and dignity that you do.

    I have you linked on my page. I will be a frequent visitor of yours.

    Much love to you...

  16. Hi Lizy! Thank you so much. I would definitely not leave those subjects out in my life story, I assure you.:)

    Someone who know how to fight back at the harshness of life like you do would fare better than I did and am doing. Just keep on going.

  17. Hi Grandma Julia, This one made me cry. You really are a great writer. I haven't finish reading all of your stories yet but one thing is for sure, I will always be here reading your posts. Love you and take care.

  18. Eva sounds like a wonderful girl :) It's fun going back and reading this after starting at the story of the dinner and the dress she bought you!