His name is Jemil. Jemil Saumay.
He’s one of my five muslims in class; one of the most quiet as well. His grades were not bad, just the average. Although his silence makes me worried.
“Sigurado ka pwede ako?” I asked him. Honestly, I was worried that I would disturb them especially when I heard that some Muslims offer their worship to Allah at that time, ’round six in the evening.
The reply I got was a nod.
Their house was inside the market beside our school, so I really had no problem traveling.
When we arrived, his grandfather was the only one there. He had to call his mother outside who was selling clothes at the market.
I gazed at the place, and I was amazed to see a muslim calendar. Well don’t get me wrong, it’s not the months and the days that differ but the cover of the calendar.
Another thing that struck me was two pictures of one woman. They were both bordered by a frame.
The one on the right was her in her muslim clothing. All in white, hair covered.
The one on the left was in casual wear, hair exposed. What struck me was the gun she was holding.
“Ayan o teacher may totoong baril.” Hanip, one of Jemil’s close friends in class said. “Totoo yan, cher. Totoo!”
Jemil’s mother suddenly came and told me, “Kapatid ko po yan.” Upon saying that, I noticed that her hair was exposed.
I didn’t ask more, I might be crossing something personal.
“Ay hi hello po. Pasensya na po sa bisita.”
“Okay lang ho.”
Then we looked at each other. It was a bit awkward so I started a question.
“Kamusta na po si Jemil dito sa bahay?”
“Ayun po, makulit.”
“Ha makulit po? Sa classroom po sobrang tahimik niyan.”
His mother could not believe it. I elaborated more like saying he recites but rarely, though good thing was his had passing grades so she had nothing to worry about.
“Ano pong trabaho niyo?”
“Jaan po sa may ukay-ukay sa may palengke po.”
We chatted a little bit about the things she sell in the market, then I turned to Jemil.
He was there, just quiet.
“Sige po, mauna na po ako at baka naiistorbo ko pa po kayo sa trabaho niyo.”
“Ay hindi wala po yun.”
Afterwards, Jemil went with me to the 14th student I visited.
Student number 13, check.