I was in a garden one morning when I noticed two squirrels chasing and teasing one another. The two lovely creatures caught my attention that I was instantly convinced to take photos of them. However, they were too swift and small to be caught by the flash of my camera so I just decided to take pleasure in watching them.
Missing my family back home, those two lovely creatures reminded me of my childhood memories with my younger sister. Those days when we used to make fun of each other until one of us get hurt.
My childhood playmate, my mother used to get mad at us when we started to tease each other which usually ended up into a drawn out scuffle or a spoiling fencing match using a huge stick or a broom. In fact, there were times when my mother wished that we were in school even during weekends for she heard nothing but scorching expressions that I and my sister threw each other every time we were home together.
We’ve grown up into teenagers but still we acted like young children as we endlessly contrived words that would surely penetrate one’s ego until it would make one of us livid. My sister called me bayot(gay) and I called her barang(witch) – we repeatedly mumbled those words until the winner takes the pride and the loser takes the prize of getting hurt. A boxing match or a wrestling championship would usually end up the exchange of words.
When we were in high school, we ineffectually teased each other by tagging each one's teachers with nasty names which is later correlated to the quality of learning we got from them. If our teachers only heard how we involved them as we exchanged blows, they would have blushed and stared us with their fuming eyes. “Your teacher is so dull that’s why you learn nothing from her,” I usually yell. “And so what, your teacher looks like a horse and your face looks like hers,” my sister retorts. The fight went on and on without our teachers’ knowledge – for sure they have bitten their tongue a couple of times as we fought. It’s pretty funny how we get angry at those statements when all of her teachers were my teachers before and all my teachers became her teachers too. Those times, we never thought of what we were talking about and why should we react to such things. It's all nonsense, actually.
I now understand the worries of my mother when she realized that me and my sister had to stay together in the city as she had to go to college too. My mother used to advise us not to bring the shame in the built-up capital for there are more people there than in our place. And now, as both of us became full-fledged educators already, my sister wanted to follow me and teach in Thailand as well. When my mother knew it, she jokingly asked, “For what? So you could fight in Thailand?” My father added, "It's good that you would be far from each other. At least, both of you would live in peace."
But even if I and my sister were like fighting squirrels, I am pretty sure that we never fail to miss each other. My grief was unexplainable when she was hit by a passenger bus while riding a motorcycle with her friend when she was in third year high school. That time, I was in first year college in the city. The accident has left my sister unconscious at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for almost five days and it also made my eyes teary although I was trying to held my tears back. No matter how I barred those tears from flowing down my cheeks, it just flowed like water from a spring but it was so bitter – I did not like the way those tears flow but I could not help myself that time.
Watching my sister lying in bed with tubes in her mouth and nose, I did not know what would happen to her in the next few days. I couldn’t ask her how she feels for she could neither utter any word nor stare at me and show me how she felt that time. She took liquid foods through the tubes which were inserted into her mouth. I thought, “How could I tease you and how could you tease me when you are lying there so helpless?”
I felt so excited every time I saw the doctor coming inside the ICU for I wished I could hear some good news from him. The doctor checked my sister’s vital signs, tried to open her eyes with her hands and pointed the flash light in them. I didn’t know what she’s looking for but after doing those things, she wrote numbers in the monitoring sheet attached in my sister’s bed. When the doctor went out, I tried to look at the sheet and saw numbers 3, 4, 5, 4, 6, 5 and so on. It’s not constant and I started to inquire what those numbers mean. Gazing at the other side of the ICU, I saw a poster which reads GLASGOW COMA SCALE (GCS) and I found out that those numbers indicate the consciousness level of patients who are suffering from head injury. I learned further that patients with GCS of 1 to 3 have 50-50 chance of surviving. We used to curse each other as we fought but I could not explain why at that very moment of my sister's struggle between life and death, I fervently asked God to help my sister survive in such pain. I used to slap her with a huge stick but that very moment of her pain, I wished it was me who suffered such pain and not her. I knew I brought pain in her life and she caused me pain too but, still, my whole being wanted nothing but my sister's survival.
After having a nap in another room of the hospital, I went back to the ICU and saw people in white gown surrounding my sister’s bed. I saw my parents smiling and so I hurriedly get inside the and to my surprise, I saw my sister with her eyes open. The doctors tried to talk to her and tested if she could respond to their commands and she just did. I wished I was there and witnessed my sister opened her eyes from a deep sleep but that was not important at all. To see my sister recovering from a serious injury is more than anything else that I could ask. Indeed, it was the greatest birthday present for my mother who was about to celebrate her birthday that time.
As I matured, I have discovered that no matter how and no matter what, love would never fade. It's not by accident that I call my family my love ones for they truly are. With all sincerity, love could not see faults for it could mend every hole in our heart. However, it's very sad that it has to take circumstances in order to realize the depth of love. Thanks to those squirrel fights for they made our relationship even stronger. As yet, common misunderstandings are still happening even if I am miles away from my sister. We squabble even in the phone and while chatting online – the distance that separates us apart did not become a reason to stop the fight. But at least, with those insignificant disputes, I am learning that even if we are miles away from each other our relationship is still strong for we do not fail to express our affection even in the middle of those squirrel fights. We're not fond of vocally expressing our affection but our actions easily convey our feelings. Last February, I was so surprised to receive a Valentine’s card from my sister.
As my three elder sisters are now raising their own families, I and my younger sister are still moving forward in our journey as educators. We walk as we both hope of a better tomorrow for ourselves and for our love ones.
Note: This post is my entry for Best Single Blog Post for Family and Living in the Philippine Blog Awards 2009. Verification Code: PBA0948rnro5