Her name is Raylin. Raylin Salic.
CLIFF. IT WAS MY FIRST TIME TO WALK BESIDE A CLIFF.
She’s one of my Muslim kids in class, also one of the quietest. Her grades in Math would tell you that she really studies.
So we went to their house, about more or less ten minutes away from school. We only had a little conversation about who was in their house so and so.
“May sapa doon teacher.”
I thought the river (is sapa the Filipino of river? I’m lazy to google it) she was talking about was the same like Michael’s, at least with a brdige one and a half meter wide.
We went down a ladder whose step was three rulers wide; I even thought that it would break as I step or the nails would just pop or something like that.
But there’s something worse.
With my bag as heavy as I was, I WALKED BESIDE A CLIFF. Yes, a cliff!
I was walking sideways wherein my hands were holding the patches of wood nailed onto a house. The pathway was less than a meter; there were no fences, so one wrong step and you’d be falling to the river… dead.
“Raylin! Raylin!” I kept shouting her name just to know that she’s somewhere near. I can’t look at anywhere else except on the patch of wood I was holding.
Kids who saw me laughed at me. I admit it, I was really scared.
Actually, it was a 10-second walk from the ladder to their house. But because I was really scared, it took me a 1-minute or more.
“Ma’am! Sa wakas!” I exclaimed as I saw her mother, “Grabe kinabahan ako dun!”
She laughed at me and said, “Buti ma’am nakarating ho kayo dito.”
Raylin was then changing clothes when we got into a more serious conversation.
“Ilan po silang magkakapatid?” I asked.
“Apat ho.” She replied.
“Si Raylin ho panganay?”
“Hindi po, ito ho.” she pointed his eldest child. “Si Raylin ho ang pangalawa.”
“Ah. Kamusta naman ho si Raylin dito sa bahay?”
“Ayos naman ho. Palaro, pero nakakatulong naman ho sa bahay.”
“Sa school naman ho, maayos naman si Raylin. Wala rin ho akong problema sa kanya kasi mabait na bata po.”
“Ay salamat naman ho.”
“Kayo lang ho nakatira dito?”
Since Raylin was okay as a daughter and a student, I decided to switch to another topic because I could not get over with their house beside a cliff.
THEIR HOUSE WAS BESIDE A CLIFF. If I were them, I would die everyday.
“Nakakakaba naman dito. Sabi po ni Raylin, sapa. Di ko po akalain na bangin din pala.”
Her mom laughed, “Ito nga hong bunso ko ilang beses na nalaglag.”
“H–ha? Pano po yun?”
I tried my best to survey the cliff from my view, and saw that on the other side of it was a pathway towards the river.
“Buti hindi ho direcho sa may sapa.”
“Ay kung direcho sa sapa patay na ho talaga.”
“Binabaha po ba dito?”
“Dito ho sa bahay?”
“Ay hindi ho. Jan lang sa sapa. Umaabot ho hanggang kalahati.”
I was worried. How about in times of typhoon? Their house could be blown easily by the winds towards the river…
I said my goodbye afterwards. Her mother asked the eldest child to carry my bag as I concentrated on “saving my life” from my fear of heights.
I think I’ve met enough students who still get average to high scores even when they meet such circumstances. I am just afraid that in the near future, these “circumstances” would make them realize that they would never get that far.
I hope… I really do… Thay they’d think of dreams as a child. Always as a child.
Student number 25, check.