I’m an undergrad. Never attained the simplest, essential certification that would have landed me to high-paying jobs later in life. Had I succeeded getting the diploma, maybe my fate would have been different from what is unfolding now.
I confess I didn’t graduate in any of the kindergarten schools I enrolled in. One was a quasi-school, the DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School), which I thought would earn me a diploma from Kindergarten. Imagine my surprise when it didn’t. My parents stayed (or had no choice but be) hopeful and enrolled me in an NGO-funded school, which I quickly had to abandon when Aunt Nits adopted me – for a time – to live with them in Project 4, Quezon City.
Now I remember why. Mom was nursing my fourth sister so I was sort of crowding our teeny tiny home. Yeah, I took up much space, then, and maybe my school fees were too high. (I admit this last one’s highly unlikely).
When I became an official member of my Aunt’s household, I was the only 5-something child living among her juvenile boarders. I’m not scared to use “juvenile”, I had permission and proof to call them so. Nevertheless, this is not their story, it’s mine.
Being a transfer student in Kindergarten, I never felt like I truly belong. I’ve always wanted to sit beside a first-grader pretty girl whose socks reached up to her knees (super cool, right?), whose shiny hair always pony-tailed, and whose teeth and skin, a glowing white. Yet schools had unusual rules. One doesn’t get to choose whom she wants to be with unless she finishes one level, then another till one runs out of steps to climb on a ladder. Bore yourself the whole year to get to the next, when you could have done it faster. (I guess they have more acceleration programs now to cater to this problem, but in my time, there was none that I knew of.)
Despite these disheartening campus policies, there were times that I was truly focused. Like when I was writing my name, guarding my lunch box from potential thieves, and answering exams – never knowing how to read. A flaw I happened to hide well from my doting aunts.
Time favored me, school vaccination week came. I was close to fainting when it was my turn to get a vaccine. I scared off the nurses. I had a valid reason not to come back to school. A trauma. A bit melodramatic, but it worked. It just didn’t help me earn a kindergarten diploma.
Out of pure folly, I never looked ahead. My father took me back and tested my reading. This was the first time I’d known “shame”. But I learned to read on that same day, sometime in June, when my father had the time to teach me.