I woke up feeling dizzy and cannot remember anything that happened that day. The room was dark. I was alone. I can feel my body aching I touched my legs and felt the burnt skin. I can smell cigarette smoke and saw live cigarette butts all over the floor.”Where am I?”, I asked myself. I realized I was naked. “Why?” “What happened?” Tears ran to my cheeks uncontrollably. I was raped. I do not know where to go. I do not know where I am. I feel hopeless. I feel ashamed. Moments passed and I remembered I helped a guy find his way to the Math building. After that incident, I could not remember anything. I searched for my clothes and found them. They were filthy but I didn’t mind. All I want to do is go out of the dark room and find my way back. I wanted to get help. I was still not on my normal state of mind. I saw a jeep and just rode it. While riding the jeep, I saw the Araneta Coliseum. I got off the jeep and started walking. Yes, I didn’t pay the driver. I do not know what I was doing. Without realizing, I was walking inside Ali Mall. I saw a payphone and dialed my boyfriend’s number. He was wondering why I was there at 8 p.m. Cubao is far from Diliman. I told him to fetch me. He arrived thirty minutes later. I couldn’t tell him at once. I just burst into endless tears. I wasn’t sure whether he will still accept me. I was so disappointed with myself. Everything was gone. I was losing hope. I showed him my legs and arms. I was a human ashtray. I felt hurt physically and mentally. I had a trauma. I was afraid of cigarette from then on. My boyfriend was very supportive. He loved me so much and understands my condition. He said he loves me so much to let me go. He swore not to let go. He was so angry to the one who did this to me. He told me to go to the police but I was so afraid of their guns. I do not know why I was afraid. I just want to go home. We rode a bus to Lucena first thing in the morning and went to our house. We talked to Mom and told her what happened. She cried. I cried with her. I was not myself anymore. I lost some part of me. My wounds hurt but the memory hurts even more. My mom told my dad who is working in Saudi what happened to me. He got mad and punched the wall. He talked to me thru Skype and we both cried. I told him I don’t want to go back to Quezon City anymore. I want to transfer. Without second thought, he agreed. When I got my ground, we went to Diliman again. This time I already decided to drop all my subjects and transfer to another school in the province—far away from the cruel Metro Manila. My adviser could not let me go. She told me I was a bright student and I should continue my life—forget what had happened. The police department was there as well. The University offered me assistance thru therapy done by the Psychology department to heal my mind from the bad experience I had. My mom and I went to Campo Crame to file a case and describe what had happened. I underwent physical exam under their resident Ob-gyn. We went back to the University to ask honorable dismissal and they allowed me to go. My adviser and the Dean of College of Home Economics made me promise to go back to UP for my master’s degree. And I did. I said I’ll go back when I’m strong enough. I will. I promised them and myself as well. Then, I closed the door of the triangular room.
I stood up, walk, and saw another door. I opened it and stepped inside. To my surprise, it was another triangular room. The door led me to time when I was born. March 28, 1989, my mom and dad were so glad to have me. I was born inside our house. My grandmother is a midwife so my mom need not go to the hospital for the delivery. I was thin and small. The blood around my body was as bright red as the love between my mom and dad. I was their first born and they were very proud. My dad named me Nepheline, a chemical compound (Sodium Aluminum Silicate) from their lesson in his favorite subject Engineering Chemistry. My other name Khaye came from my mom’s favorite expression, K from OK. They just gave a twist to the usual spelling of Kaye by adding an H. My third name Karenn was just included to produce rhyme with Nepheline. Both ends with the sound / n /. But my parents were never contented with just a Karen so they decided to add an additional –N as the last letter. I grew up under my grandma’s supervision. She was very strict so I grew up shy and afraid of committing mistakes. I lost my confidence to mingle with other people. Before I do any move, I ask my lola first. I felt I do not have the freedom to think for my own. I was inside the box every second of my life. When I reached the age of four, I lived with my mom. My dad works in Pagbilao and he only goes to our house during weekends. I love it when my dad knocks on our door every Friday night because it is the time when I would be getting my Donut Kin (I call Dunkin Donut, Donut Kin when I was small). When I was five, my parents sent me to school. What I cannot do in our house, I did there. I felt so carefree when at school: I became active in recitation, participated in oration, joined different contests, became a dancer, applied as a writer and became a consistent honor student from Day Care up to High School. Then, I went out and I closed the second door.
I reached the third door to find out I was holding a letter addressed to me. I couldn’t believe I passed the UPCAT with student number 2006-62187. I told my mom and dad my achievement and they were very proud. My parents are more excited than I am that they prepared my things and planned where I would stay in Quezon City. I told them that there is a Kalayaan dormitory application attached to the letter. Kalayaan dorm is where the freshmen stay for their first year in the university. My mom and dad were convinced to let me stay in the dormitory. They believe that I will gain a lot of friends there and the dormitory will help me set the foundation for my stay in the university. I was accompanied by my mom and dad to UP, my dad even stayed in the dormitory during the enrollment as transient. I saw a professor told my dad to let me go and stay in the line for enrolment by myself. My dad realized that I am not a kid anymore. I saw it in his eyes. He couldn’t deny his pride as he stepped on the Palma Hall watching me pay for my tuition. I cried. I was so happy knowing that my parents are so proud of me. I promised myself that I will succeed in the university in return for their effort on raising me well. Then, I closed the third door.
The fourth door directed me to my University classes where I met people that I thought I can only meet vicariously on books, television and magazines. Being in UP gave me opportunities to be with famous personalities without spending a single centavo. I have attended a seminar on journalism from Cheche Lazaro and Kara David. I watched theater drama and comedy of Tuesday Vargas, Ate Glow, Eugene Domingo, Tessie Tomas, and many more. My favorite theatrical comedy they have produced is the “Shock Value”. I attended my Economics class with Winnie Monsod as a professor. I have heard Mr. Ryan Cayabyab’s composition during the University Centennial Celebration live. I have found out that some actors, singers, and athletes such as Herbert Bautista, Richard Gomez, Manny Pacquiao, Hero Angeles, Christian Baustista, Sharon Cuneta, and Sarah Geronimo are also studying or had a crash course in UP. One of my memorable experiences is when we saw some high school students taking a picture of Jay of Kamikazee in Shopping Center and I saw Cherie Pie Picache casually asking a man to photocopy some scripts. My greatest dream came true when I had Palanca Hall of Famer Rene O. Villanueva as my professor in Humanidades 1. He passed away in 2008 but he was replaced by another Palanca Awardee Jun Cruz Reyes. Mr. Jun, (Pedro Cruz, Jr.) taught me on how to be a human. He inspired me to write essays and stories pertaining to my desire to be free. His greatest work, “Utos ng Hari” has been my inspiration to be a teacher. I wanted to transform students’ views about teachers. This short story challenges teachers to do what they preach. The event I consider as stress reducer is the February fair where different organizations and fraternities invite national and local bands to perform from 6pm until 3am. This event serves as a reward to students after the 2nd semester midterm exams. During December, the most awaited event is the Oblation Run were the views and opinions of the masses are laid to demand the government to stand up and take actions on national issues such as corruption. Another most awaited event is the Lantern Parade which is considered as the Fine Arts day where they showcase their creativity in lantern, float, and costume making. I closed the door with a smile.
The fifth door directed me to my 3rd Year Geometry class. I was there listening attentively to Teacher Florian Manzanilla. I heard him say, “One property of a triangle is… (He wrote on the board.) … the sum of the measurement of the two sides should always be greater than the measurement of the remaining side of the triangle.” (He drew some examples of triangles.) I raised my hand and asked, “What if the sum of the measurement of the two sides is equal to the measurement of the third side, for example the measurements of the sides of triangles are 2 x 3 x 5? What will happen?” Mr. Manzanilla answered, “Then, it will not be a triangle.” “Not a triangle? Then, what is it?” I asked. Mr. Manzanilla paused and said with a grin in his face, “It is a line.” Then the sixth door closed.
I reached out for the sixth door. It led me to the present. My primary reason of studying in Southern Luzon State University is to forget the things that happened in the past. I wanted to start a new life here. From being a BS Hotel Restaurant and Institution Management student, I chose to enroll in Bachelor in Secondary Education Major in English to share not only the knowledge that I will gain but also to inspire my students to stand tall when they experience failure in life. I may have disregarded the opportunities that my previous school can offer once I graduated there but I have no regrets because here in SLSU, I found new friends who understand me and accept me for who I am and not who I was. I guess I don’t really need to go out and run from the triangular room because in reality, the triangular room of life is a straight line. We just need to run the race with heads up, and be thankful for the gift God has given us—our life.
It is not bad to look back on the painful memories of the past so long as these will make you stronger! I am not proud to be a rape victim but I am definitely proud to survive and live a normal life once again. It may take time to heal the wounds but they would definitely give me strength to face life’s future struggles. Yes you can! Aim to TOP!
Credits to: Teacher Neph