I knew I have loved her the moment she leaned on my shoulder. It was unconditional. At first, I couldn’t just understand how, when, why … but who cares? Love is just unconditional.
She was very noticeable although she was a silent type, not that she was shy but very introverted. She was so unique among others – her full bangs that made her look like Dora, her morena skin that stood out from her half-foreigner classmates, her pretty eyes – but what made her more conspicuous was that she never smiled.
She always stayed at the corner. Never participated in class (but I bet she’s listening). Never interested in playing with others. Never heard her talk. Nobody could tell if she’s smart or nice or whatever.
She had her own world.
The only thing we knew was that she had a sad story and a sad heart.
Because nobody could tell if she was learning, she was enrolled to an enhancement program under my supervision. It was a challenge for me. I had no idea how to deal a kid who doesn’t talk or smile. I couldn’t even tell her character.
She was a mystery.
But of course I had to do the best that I can to break her walls. But then, she had no choice but to speak since she was compelled to practice reading. Then it was discovered that she was not slow at all. In fact. she learned fast and behaved well although there were times when she insisted to do whatever she pleased. I let her do what she liked. It was fun watching her finding her interest and satisfying her curiosity.
Every afternoon our session became an hour to look forward in a day, a moment we both wanted to enjoy. There were days of quarrels and troubles. There were also days of jokes and laughter. And there were days when she shared stories about her family and her classmates; days when she hoped her mother was alive; days when she wished she could be a baby forever …
To some she may sound old with her out-of-nowhere thoughts but to me she is just a kid who wanted to be heard in the world where only the smart and adorable kids are appreciated and in her world where everyone else mind their own business.
I didn’t realize I was attached to her until one day. She arrived at the school with a frowning face, a terrible mood. I asked her why she looked so mad but she didn’t answer me. Her yaya explained that she was a bit annoyed because her nap was disturbed. I kinda laughed at the thought. That’s a pretty normal excuse to be mad.
I didn’t reproached her for not answering me or for being rude. Instead I grabbed her and carried her in my arms. Then she leaned her head on my shoulder and slept. I knew I have loved her when she leaned on my shoulder. I was as if putting my own child to sleep. I didn’t want that moment to end. I wanted her to feel loved. Feel protected. Feel secured.
And then I whispered, “Just take your time. Everything is fine.”