Walking through the streets of the Science complex in Diliman has never been this hard. The long gray road seems to be never-ending. The blinding glare of the sun made it even harder for me to push through. I never knew the road back to that building would be so compelling, so hard, and so emotional. I have been avoiding that place for the last two years. And most of the time, I managed to succeed in doing so. Not until now, now that I think I need to do this, now that I am most ready to face my UP past.
That familiar bleak atmosphere surrounded me while I am striding alone in the “Teletubby Land”. Isn’t it ironic that a plain bumpy road as gloomy as this would get such a happy and cheerful name? Well, I guess everything in UP is just ironic so, people don’t care anymore. A funny feeling kicked in to me as I am traversing this path. I remembered exactly how my block mate fell into the water pit while he was trying to run as fast as he could. We were looking for him to catch up but he disappeared in a jiffy, only to find out he was “swimming” in that murky “river”. I wanted to laugh hard as I was recalling that “unfortunate” incident but I managed to control myself. And my balloon of fun popped out upon realizing I am almost there. I am so uncomfortably near the building, near enough to spot that lone entrance, near enough to glimpse some familiar faces I wouldn’t want to see.
As I was walking towards the entrance of the Math building, I saw some papers in the bulletin board. As if by instinct, I looked for my name in those papers like I used to do before when I still belong here. My name didn’t appear in any of those papers but all other names are quite familiar. I felt a sudden throb while walking through the entrance. I have not been here for quite a long time and my voluntary absence made it all worse. I could have visited this place and re-acquainted with the people I used to hang out with. I could have been here to see my former professors and catch up with them. I could have been here, but I chose not to. The burden of tracking back and facing my issues is unbearable then.
Just when I thought it would not get any darker, the first floor appealed to me as so. The shadows of those tall walls prevented the light from easing through. Most classrooms are locked up as if the place has been deserted. The plants in the center piece garden are in no way blooming and inspiring. Also, there are unusually few students in this part of the building this summer. We used to sit into the long tables while waiting for our teachers. We used to review and compare assignments in those hard corner seats. We used to make fun of the non-Math majors while complaining how their Math 1 exams are so difficult. Though my grades were not getting any better then, I used to have fun here in this floor. But everything’s not quite as good as they were before. It will never be, I guess.
I managed to sneak in into an open classroom in the far end of the floor. I observed how little these rooms have changed since I last saw them. The common half-chalkboard-half-whiteboard still remained the same. The dysfunctional air conditioners which go into extremes when turned on remained the same. The usual green seats are still the same – all are still heavily abused with vandalisms. I sat into one of the chairs and tried to be as comfortable as I was before. I was hoping to get the same feeling as I used to but it just wasn’t coming. I asked myself why? I left the floor blank-minded.
The second floor wasn’t any better. The faculty of the kings and queens - as I would usually call it hasn’t changed a bit. It still homes the royalties of this building, the people we would usually run after and asked for mercy just to pass our majors. Except for some unfamiliar, new faculty members, everything’s quite the same. I still saw some students doing the same thing we did before, begging for mercy. I felt bad for them, the same way I felt bad for myself then. How could these teachers be so insensitive of these students’ feelings when they themselves became students? Had they been a little more considerate, I would still pursue a degree in this college. But they just couldn’t do so. So I packed my things then, picked up what’s left on my shattered dignity and promised myself that I would be a better teacher than they were, to not come back here again and not to beg for their elusive mercy once more. And just a mere visit of this floor made all of these emotions flourished once more. And this time, I couldn’t control my feelings, water poured down my cheeks and it just couldn’t stop. I thought I am ready to face these things, but I am still not.
After a while, I managed to gather my thoughts and proceeded in the third and final floor. This floor is not really that familiar to me. Our majors classes are mostly in the first floor and all other math subjects are in this floor. Besides, this floor brought back some more sad memories. It is here when I considered committing suicide and jumping off the building after a failed exam. It was here I received the news that I am in a probationary status and should do something more to pass. It was here when I almost cried out “foul!” and shout at the teacher when she accused us of cheating in her exams. It was here where I would secretly pour my heart out after such a stressful and traumatic day. It was all here. The saddest part of my UP life was probably staged here. And once again, I felt ashamed of myself and what I had become then. I sat on one of the corner seats and reflected on what could have my life be had I stayed in this building. If I have really lost my sanity then, probably, I could have blown this building up to get back at those abusive teachers. Or if I forced myself to like math, I would have graduated this year probably with an award or two. And it just made me feel worse. I cried once more. This time, silently, more subdued, more hurtful than ever.
The trip to the Math building made me realize things I should have known back then. One, that I am not really a Math person, that I am naturally good at this but I just can’t enjoy doing it. Second that I should stand by my decisions and not be regretful about it. I made bad decisions when I was a lot younger and I would not add more by staying in to this place where I don’t truly belong. Lastly, to move on, move forward and face what the future holds. I had been extremely hard on myself especially now that I think I am a complete mess. I might need some help to fulfill my dreams for now, but I am slowly anchoring myself to the direction I think I should pursue. I would get my UP diploma with the help of the people who trusts in me. I would fulfill my parent’s dream and help them in every way possible. I used to feel that gargantuan hate and bitterness against the Math Department, but I can’t dwell on that and I should finally let go of that grudge. Because of all these hurts and rejections, I am a completely different person now than that of the boy who first walked in the streets of Diliman. Now, I realize that I am boundless, limitless and with infinite potential. As for me and my love for Math, I think that our relationship for now would be undefined and indeterminate. The pieces don’t fit the puzzle anymore, but the picture it paints remains the same. Failure is a part of our everyday life, but giving up is just not, so I will never give up.