Her name is Michelle. Michelle Marjolino.
Her physique would obviously tell you she’s a lot older than her classmates. She’s actually twelve years old, almost in her teens. I discovered in her form 137 that she stopped studying for two years, and this year was her comeback.
Michelle clung to me happily as we went to their house. We rode a tricycle then walked a familiar road.
“Bakit ka pala tumigil ng dalawang taon?” I asked.
“Kasi po pumunta kami dito nung isang taon. Tapos yung isang taon, hindi po ako tinanggap nung teacher kasi mababa daw yung mga grades ko.”
“Huh? Pwede pala yun?”
Why are grades the basis for entrance? And wait… Is that allowed?! I mean, rejecting a student to enter a section because his/her grades are low?!
When we arrived, she pointed at her eldest sister who was then carrying a baby, then at their house wherein her mother was peeking for her return.
“Hello po ma’am.” I greeted, “Kamusta po?”
“Ayos lang po.” She replied. I think she was in a state of shock that I visited. Her eyes widened when she saw me, as if wondering why I was there.
I didn’t enter the house since there was no space, and I would wake the two people who were sleeping on the floor. Michelle immediately got a chair for me to sit outside. What a responsible child, I thought.
“Bale wag po kayong mag-alala wala naman pong ginawa si Michelle na masama. Sa katunayan po sobrang bait nga po niyan sa klase.”
“Ah… Akala ko po kasi meron. Di kasi sinabi ni Michelle.”
“Sinabi ko.” Michelle laughed.
“Kamusta na po si Michelle sa bahay?”
“Ayos naman po.”
She responded to my questions without further explanations. Well, I would answer that way too unless asked to further explain.
“Ilan po silang magkakapatid?”
“Siyam?! Asan ho yung iba?”
“Yung iba po may asawa na. Yun po yung panganay nasa labas.”
“Ah… Si Michelle po pang ilan?”
“Bale, bunso na po siya.”
“Bunso ka pala Michelle!” I teased Michelle. “Alam niyo maam napakaresponsable po ng anak niyo.”
And for once, she smiled. “Salamat po.”
I said my goodbye afterwards. And to the teacher who rejected Michelle… Guess what. She ranked seventh overall.
Student number 52, check.