Her name is Norain. Norain Sapanta.
She was not able to attend the whole month of January. Every day I would ask Hanip and Jemil, Norain’s classmates and neighbors, if she came back from the province already. But their answer would be ‘no’ every time.
I lost hope that she would not come back to the point that I placed ‘dropped’ on my form 1. When I wrote that down, I cried for being unable to leave the mark I wanted to leave, which was no dropouts in my class. I remember a day in September wherein my other student vanished. I tried looking for him, but his classmates said he was already in Fairview. And then… Norain.
Every day, I would think of her. I was actually disappointed her mother’s response to one of my text messages: “umuulan pa po kasi”. How could it be raining for almost two months?!
But today, my prayer was answered.
While lining up, four of them said the news. “Teacher andiyan na po si Norain!”
Given that Norain was already back but there was no Norain to be seen, it was depressing for me. I sighed and continued with my routine of making my class line up, cover their lips with their hands as they carry their bags, then they enter the classroom.
Five minutes after, I saw Norain’s mother in front of the door. I rushed excitedly and saw Norain!
“Yes! Norain bumalik ka din!”
I made her sit beside my top 1 student in Math and Science, Alyssa, and told her to teach Norain whatever she could teach. When Alyssa’s seatmate came, I placed her beside the top 1 in English, Marjoy and told her to teach Norain lessons in English.
Because I was overwhelmed by her return, I asked her if I could do a home visit. She was quiet, a sign that she didn’t want. Her classmates confirmed that I would be visiting because I was mad at her something.
She replied, “Maliit lang po kasi bahay namin.”
“Ay sus walang problema yun!”
On the way, we saw Norain’s mother. She walked with us and said the same thing, “Maliit lang po bahay namin.”
“Okay lang po ma’am.”
True enough, it was the smallest house/room I visited. Well yeah, it was actually a room. Norain’s sister was there, combing her hair.
A minute of my stay was about her mother apologizing how small their house was. Half was about the rain in Mindanao.
“Si Norain po kasi umiyak nung nakita niya yung text mo kasi baka nga hindi mo na siya tanggapin sa klase.”
I was touched. Norain knew what she was being missed.
“Pero umuulan po talaga, hanggang ngayon.”
“Opo. Sa totoo lang ma’am umalis kami kabang-kaba ako kasi akala ko baka mamatay na kami kasi nga umuulan.”
“Hala! Buti po nakarating kayo dito.”
Who would have thought that they would cross the anger of the sea because of the want of education?
We exchanged stories on why they were in the Mindanao, so I found out that Norain’s grandmother passed away. I told her that Norain’s grades were affected because of her almost two-month long absence.
Nevertheless, she would pass because of her averages in the last three quarters.
I was just so happy that she went back… that she was the one who told her mother to go back and be in class.
Are these the seeds I planted? Would it continue to grow like what I hoped?
I hope so.
Student number 41, check.