Visit Number 20

His name is Andrei. Andrei Fodra.

What made me remember him was his trembling voice every time he’d speak. I’ve been helping him build his self confidence for the past seven months, and I think I’m far from successful.

I usually don’t do home visits every Friday, but he’s an exception. The marketing team asked us for a copy of our wacky class picture, but since my copy was inside my stolen bag, I had to ask a student who owned a copy. In this case, Andrei had one.

We rode a jeep from school. He was with four other students, one was a student of my co-fellow. I paid for the five of them as a treat.

It was only a 5-minute travel.

“Teacher minsan nilalakad ko to.” He said with a trembling voice.

“Bakit, eh ang layo ah?” I asked.

“Pag wala pong baon.”

As we wait for the traffic guy to stop the cars, one of his neighbors held my hand as she spoke, “Teacher siguro nung bata ka ang daming nagkakagusto ko sayo. Maganda ka kasi.”

I laughed. Ever since I was a kid I already had very low self-esteem. Every time someone would tell me I’m pretty or the like, I’d be surprised. To be honest, it took years before my issues were settled. I’m not even sure if I am really that okay.

As we walk, I saw large houses.

“Ang lalaki ng bahay dito ah.” I said.

“Ay teacher hindi kami diyan,” one of the students said, “doon po kami.”

She then pointed to a narrow pathway wherein a wall separates it to the subdivision/condominium buildings.

Reality.

We arrived at Andrei’s house shortly after. A baby girl was sleeping on the floor, and Andrei’s mother was sitting beside her.

“Ma, pahiram daw class picture.”

Andrei went directly to his room while his mother looked for the picture.

“Pasensya na po i-scan ko lang. Kasama po kasi sa nawala.”
“Nabalitaan ko nga po yun.”
“Kamusta naman po si Andrei dito?”
“Okay lang naman ma’am. Masunurin naman dito.”
“Buti naman po. Sa klase po okay naman si Andrei. Anong score mo sa huli, Andrei?”

“9 ma’am.” He replied.

“Pasado! Ayun ho. Nga lang ma’am minsan ho pag oral exam parang sobrang hina ng boses niya.”
“Di ko nga ho alam ma’am kung bat ganon…”

We chatted for a while, mostly about my lost bag. It was okay, I guess, since Andrei’s not a problem in academic or in behavior.

It was beginning to get dark so I said my goodbye. While walking I asked her about the demolition.

“Ay okay lang ho. Nasanay na rin. Palipat-lipat kami… Pero nasanay na.”

Before I went, I looked back at the condominums beside their village.

Why could they not have this land for free when the first humans did?

Student number 20, check.

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