Her name is Daniela. Daniela Estrada.
During the last period, I caught her guessing the answers during our quiz. Of course I had to reprimand her, or else she would do it another time.
Anyway, I set that aside for a while, even teased her as we traveled. I laughed as she told me the directions to their house with ‘gaganon po tapos gaganyan‘ with matching hands that curve to the left and to the right.
In less than ten minutes we arrived.
Their house was full of clothes; clothes at the corner, clothes at the kitchen and clothes outside. I didn’t bother to ask, maybe they just finished laundry.
Her mother immediately made merienda for me. It was Daniela’s grandmother that I talked to.
“Ma’am, kamusta ho kayo dito sa bahay?” I asked.
“Ito ho sobrang nakakapagod.” Her lola said. “Kamusta ho si Daniela sa school?”
“Ay nako ma’am alam niyo ho ba napagalitan ko ho si Daniela kanina. Nakita ko kasi na nanghuhula po ng sagot.”
So I told them that I just finished writing when I saw Daniela with her head down. When I asked her, she said she was finished. Surprised, I got her paper and looked; she wrote random numbers as answers.
“Pasensya na ho ma’am minsan nga nag-aaway yan sila ng mama niyan eh. Minsan pinipilit magbasa eh ito namang si Daniela aayaw.”
“Minsan pag tutulungan sa assignment tatawanan lang ako,” Daniela’s mother continued. “Sabi ko nga bahala na siya diyan eh pagod na pagod ako galing trabaho. Tinutulungan na nga. Ngayon lang ho day-off ko.”
“Ay swerte pala ako naabutan ko ho kayo!” I said jokingly.
“Oo nga ho sabi ko nga ho kay Daniela ‘nako bukas lang ang day-off ko ayoko sumakit ang ulo ko dahil sa sasabihin ng teacher mo tungkol sayo ha’ ganon.”
“Ano po bang trabaho ninyo?”
“Sa puregold ho. Nagrorover. Eh anim na puregold ho yung iniikot ko. Pag dating ko sa bahay minsan nasasabi ko na lang kay Daniela, ‘anak bahala ka na jan ha’ kasi pagod na ako.”
I turned my look to Daniela, “O Daniela ikaw talaga. Dapat nag-aaral ka na. Tingnan mo mama mo nagpapakahirap para sayo.”
“Nagpapasaway talaga yan ma’am minsan. Dati nga ginusto ko na siya paluin ng sinturon kasi umalis kaagad sa school eh sobrang kinabahan ako noon.” Her lola continued, “May nabalitaan pa ako na nangunguha ng bata kaya sobrang pagdating ko gusto ko paluin si Daniela dahil sa sobrang kaba! Buti pinigil ako ng lolo niya noon.”
“Eh ngayon ho, kamusta naman ho si Daniela dito sa bahay?”
“Kahapon ho nabalitaan ho niya na mawawalan ng tubig. Nagulat kami nung biglang nilabas ni Daniela lahat ng timba para mag-igib. Nagtinginan talaga kami ng mama niya.”
Well, after all, there was good news.
While walking towards the highway, I asked Daniela’s grandmother about Daniela’s father. There I learned that her mother did not want to pursue their relationship when she discovered that he had another family.
Daniela used to say that she had sisters, but that day I learned that she was an only child.
Student number 23, check.