Her name is Jamella. Jamella Tuballas.
Jamella is Khrisha’s cousin (see visit number 12). One of the smallest among the girls. She rarely talks in class, but is quite participative in recitation, especially in knowledge type of questions.
She was actually quiet the whole time when we were travelling.
“Sino kasama mo pag-uwi?” I started a conversation so she would feel comfortable.
“Si kuya po. Hinihintay niya ako.”
“Eh paano yun? Nauna na tayo?”
“Okay lang po nauna na siya. Natatakot po kasi ako minsan may humahabol sa aking bata dito.”
“Ha? Bakit naman?”
“Di ko rin po alam.”
I frowned at that knowing that something could happen to her.
“O basta hintayin mo na lang si kuya.” Then I asked her, “Takot ka ba sa aso, Jamella?”
That was not random by the way. I just hoped they did not have any dogs at home.
“Di po. Meron po kaming aso pero hindi siya nananahol at masunurin.”
I knew we were almost there when I we passed by a familiar road; it was the road I travelled when I visited Khrisha. I even heard someone said “Nako may ginawang kasalanan to.” so I whishpered “Hindi po, mabait ho si Jamella.” as I smiled.
When we arrived, I saw her mother there sitting in front of a sewing machine. The place was full of cushions and different pieces of cloth.
“Ay ayan na ang teacher ni Jamella,” her mother said, likely aware that I was coming. “Upo kayo ma’am.”
“Dito ho kayo nakatira?”
“Ay hindi ho. Sa kabila po yung bahay namin. Bale dito ako nagtatrabaho. Banig yung business.”
“Ah ang galing ang lambot. Magkano ho ang isa?”
“Kung sa akin bibili 210. Tapos ibebenta ng 250 ng mga naglalako. Tapos sa market, umaabot ng 300 hanggang 400.”
Woah. Never thought how big the ‘patong’ was! So that’s how it goes… I was never a business person. If I were to have a store or something like that, it would be bankrupt in less than a week.
“Kamusta naman ho si Jamella?”
“Okay naman. Makulit dito yan sa bahay.”
“O talaga po? Sa school hindi naman.”
“Lagi ko nga sinasabi sa kanya na wag dadalhin ang kakulitan sa school.”
“Ilan ho ba silang magkakapatid?”
“Anim. Isa nagtatrabaho, isa ito–dito nanggaling yung una kong apo. Yung isa yung nakita niyo hong nagbubuhat kanina, tumutulong sa kin. Isa high school sa may Batasan tapos may dalawa akong elementary.”
“Buti matatag ho itong business niyo.”
We mostly talked about their business, and less about Jamella. I inserted a few reminders about the NAT, attendance, Jamella’s academics, and the day for the report card.
“Gusto niyo ho makita yung bahay namin?”
“Ay sige ho!”
Their 3-floor house was just beside the working place. The first floor was where the kitchen and the living room were, while the other two floors were their bedrooms.
“O ayos pala Jamella eh. Malaki yung lugar para mag-aral.”
She smiled as a reply.
Upon going home, I saw Khrisha in her pambahay outfit. I asked her if she could come with me, and she agreed.
“Ang yaman nila no, teacher?” Khrisha said with a smile.
Somewhere inside me, I felt bad for her. If I were to have her situation, I could have been filled with envy. But of course they were kids, and I hope that their different worlds would not break the friendship they share.
Student number 32, check.