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A girl named Jenny

Warning: The article you are about to read is sappy. It’s highly suggested that you proceed as if I didn’t write it.

A girl named Jenny

Her name was Jenny. She was a city girl. She became my classmate in grade school after her parents decided that the city’s smog was too dangerous for their sickly little girl. And like any transferee from an exclusive school, Jenny was an overnight sensation.

At first I thought it was just the sound of her name. “Jenny” sounded like music in our mababang paaralan where everybody was either called Ebaqueta or Eustaquia. If your name wasn’t any of these, it was probably Maria, or any of its derivatives Iyay, Yayang, Aryat.

There were occasional Abigails and Sheilas and Charitys. But they were so outnumbered that it didn’t take long for us to localize our pronunciation of them until they sounded like Gorgonia all over again.

Jenny could have been a flower in her past life. The classroom smelt of roses every time she glided past my seat on her way to the front to recite a poem none of us understood. But we knew the poem was about love. It couldn’t be about anything else.

I grew up in a town where it was mortal sin for boys in short pants to have crushes. As a result, attraction to the opposite sex brought with it guilt, which made things even more confusing: how could guilt result from something beautiful? A yucky variation: how could it be so wrong when it felt so right? So I decided to forget Jenny and return to the normal world of paper boats and slingshots.

But fate had its way of making fun of Romeo wannabes like me. Jenny’s family lived far from the town proper. Since my mother was a good friend of Jenny’s mother, and our house was near the school, she invited Jenny to spend her noon breaks at our place. Perhaps mother didn’t want Jenny to eat her lunch under acacia trees, like what most of our classmates from the barrios did.

I don’t know if mother had any idea of the torture I had to suffer while eating in the presence of the object of my affection. I had to apply everything I learned from Home Economics about table etiquette. My prayer before meals was “Lord, spare my mouth from munching noises.”

I was in love with Jenny. And all my elementary years I lived with the guilt that went with dreaming of her at night, the embarrassment of growing love warts and the pain of unspoken affection at a very young age.

I was in first year high school when I started writing love letters, not for myself but for my classmates, who treated me to banana-q in exchange for prose that oozed with passion and deep longing. Not a letter failed. I was good. But I felt sad watching relationships bloom all around me because of the letters I wrote while I couldn’t even look my Jenny in the eye.

One day, I mustered enough courage to write my own letter to Jenny. In two sheets of flower-scented stationery, I scribbled all there was about city smog, pimples and lunchboxes and how they wove a story about a beautiful girl named Jenny.

The next day I inserted the letter in her Araling Panlipunan book when she wasn’t looking. Then I went to the chapel to pray. School year was about to end. Jenny would have the entire summer to think of my proposal.

My prayers failed. One morning at the start of summer, I saw my letter – the very letter I sent to Jenny — on the breakfast table next to my scrambled egg, crumpled. I didn’t know how the poor thing ended up there. But I didn’t care. Jenny had betrayed my trust.

My mother, ever understanding, didn’t say a word. She just watched as I reached for the letter, folded it inside my pocket and left the table in silence. I never got the chance to see Jenny again. Mother transferred me to the city the next school year, where I resumed doing the only thing I was good at: writing love letters for other people.

(sun.star weekend magazine)

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8 Responses to “A girl named Jenny”

  1. this story cracks me up everytime-).only my ass was whoped hard when i first got mine.gatakilid kong galingkod sa desk!bittersweet memories 4 us,right homey?

  2. awww.. it never fails to touch my heart jud…
    bsag ikapila na nko ni nabasa… ^_^

  3. …. and so it came to pass that I started digging air supply songs! my god! 🙂

  4. hmmmn…sappy indeed…ahehehehe…

  5. hehehe araling panlipunan, now that’s something na I haven’t read in a long while hehehehe but seriously bai, we came from the same boat before. I had my shares of crushes, how I tried to tell them how I feel or I would write something on a paper and tried placing it on their bags only for them to read it out loud to my other classmates furthering my embarrassment. I got turned down and they basically called me names in the process. Years later, seeing those so-called “crushes” of mine, I realized that they were not that pretty as I viewed them before. Maybe my innocent eyes fooled me for a time hehehe call it manawayon cgro karon bai, but at least I can look back on those memories and cherish them, be it good or bad..coz its the one thing na dli na nato mausab na dyud in this lifetime hehehehhee char na kau ko da….paet

  6. cool:-) causing me nostalgic moments..

  7. “…. and so it came to pass that I started digging air supply songs! my god! :)”

    goin’ senti ey?! 🙂


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