His name is Asnor. Asnor Noor.
Asnor was the last of my five Muslim students to visit. He was one of the tallest and smartest boys in class. In fact, I think he ranked third or fourth on the boys list.
Everyday he would ask, “Ma’am kailan niyo po ako bibisitahin?”
I would reply a smile and a “Basta surprise.”
Although at times he was kind and obedient, there were times that he would have tantrums like when he wasn’t called for recitation, or he wasn’t one of the highest. During these time he would just sit and sulk, or let his tears flow down his cheeks.
I do not understand why, and I honestly get pissed. But I would just calm myself, and ask him that he would not get what he wanted every single time. When I would talk to him he’d stay quiet like he was not listening to me, and again I’d be frustrated. But these are children… If I shout at him because of frustation, wouldn’t I be more immature than him…?
It wouldn’t be just a day or so of the month, but at least twice, thrice, or every day of the week. I get used to it about late second quarter when I noticed that he’d join the discussion again after thirty or more minutes.
Anyway, so Kenli and Ivan were with us. While we were crossing the pedestrian lane at Litex, Kenli held my hand. At that exact moment, the traffic enforcer said to my students, “O, hawak kayo sa mommy niyo ng mabuti!” All of us laughed since we all knew I was their teacher.
The pathways were narrow, and how do I say this… I get used to it already? We even (sorry for those who are reading this while eating) passed by a big poop of a dog, and I laughed as Ivan commented, “Ano ba yan! Hari ng daan!”
Asnor’s house was bigger than most of his classmates. A baby was sleeping on a duyan, a large flat screen TV was there, and the house had two floors.
The sad part?
His parents are separated.
“May problema po ba kay Asnor?” His grandmother asked.
“Wala po. Talagang bumibisita lang po ako sa kanila.” I replied. “Matalino naman po si Asnor. Ang problema eh masyado po kasing matampuhin.”
“Oho. Pikunin yan kasi. Madalas mag-away sila nung isa niyang kapatid.”
“Ilan ho ba sila?”
“Tatlo. Yung isa tumigil na sa pag-aaral.”
“Ho? Bakit naman? Sayang naman…”
“Sinusumpong kapag hindi singkwenta ang binibigay na baon. Nagtatampo.”
Tsk. I hope the kid does not regret this… Well…
“Sana po maibalik siya sa pag-aaral. Asan po ba yung magulang nina Asnor?”
“Ay wala. Kinuha ko sila kasi papabayaan doon sa may kanila.”
Asnor’s grandmother had an accent so I had to pick up very fast. What I understood was Asnor’s parents were already separated. His grandmother hoped that his son would find an intelligent woman who would love her grandchildren like a true mother, but the next one wanted to have a life of their own.
Asnor’s biological mother went to get them and made them study in the province, but it after Christmas vacation they did not come back since Asnor’s mother thought he would pass since he could read. But nope, he didn’t.
His grandmother got them and let them stay in their house. They taught them how to read, how to write, until they were able to go back to school.
With that I could say they were successful. Asnor was a really smart kid. Even though he was not able to join the top 10 last second and third quarter, he was actually 4th overall.
I saw Asnor kissing the baby as he and his sister rocked the duyan. That time, I didn’t see him as a child throwing tantrums; I saw him as a responsible brother who, like everybody else, wanted care.
As I traveled back home, I began to understand why Asnor wanted to be praised that much. Or maybe, I assumed. Maybe he wanted attention which he did not get from his real parents. Maybe he wanted to be praised by the people around him. Maybe it was a way to vent his frustrations.
But still… When did leaving one’s children become natural/ part-of-life for some?
If they only knew what they were missing.
Student number 42, check.