The huge wooden door closes at my turn of the knob. As I raise my eyes to face what’s ahead of me, a black cat lazing under the sun establishes an unusual acquaintance with me. For a second, I dwell on the connotation carried by black cats: that they are unlucky. But that does not matter right now, and the sun is shining, really, it is, for the first time in weeks that I can’t help but be vibrant as well. And so I cross Taft, climb aboard a jeepney and expect myself to arrive in the classroom just before my Professor does.
Everything actually happens in a rush; it’s like someone is aiding the hands of the clock in moving, but this person does not know of the period each hand follows.
My last subject for the day, Communications 3, is only a couple of minutes away. I sit on a bench along Little Theater (LT) while the pain of contractions begins to resonate throughout my body. If the pain were to speak with words, it would tell me: “I’m here, I’m here, I’m here.” It is Dysmenorrhea, which I especially unwelcome during that time of the month for women. I’ve had quite a few attacks of it wherein the pain is too severe to just shrug off—but the last attack happened almost a year ago that I never quite know when it’s going to be there and it frightens me.
I search for any pain-reliever. I know I could still go to a pharmacy and buy Ibuprofen or something, but walking is beginning to be difficult. To my dismay, none of my friends have any, so I go back to LT and call my mother. I tell her about the pain, about having no medications present at the moment. She instructs me to buy and then just head back to dorm to rest.
But Comm3 is a crucial subject to me (I’m trying my best on Speech Communication, really) and I couldn’t miss it, because perfect attendance meant a .25 incentive in the final grade.
The pain is now screaming within me, and I’m sure now that it is heading for the crooked path.
I leave school.
Mercury Drug is the nearest, so I almost fly to it. The sweltering heat is making my head spin. I buy three soft gels of Advil, pay, grab a bottle of water, pay. Then, the pain becomes overwhelming. I gulp an Advil down and wish for fast relief, although I know I am far from it. As I step out of the pharmacy, my vision begins to darken.
I know what’s coming. Whenever my vision darkens ominously (please take this literally), it means that I am moments away from fainting. And I couldn’t faint right here! Not outside a Mercury Drug along Taft Avenue under the blazing heat of the sun. I grip as hard as I could on my senses as I cross the street and wait for a jeepney to ride back to the dorm. Cold sweat breaks from the depths of my skin, the other “duh” marker of me not feeling well. This is bad. Everything is dark, dark, dark. Thankfully, a couple of hues remain in my field of vision, and I manage to climb aboard the jeepney and even pay the driver.
The struggle has begun.
I close my eyes, knowing for a fact that I am sweating profusely and that the lady in front of me is looking at me like I could do with a trip to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). My hearing made me feel claustrophobic because sound waves have become squashed, audible yet compressed. Cold sweat is trickling across my skin like bits of waterfall, and the pain is magnified a hundredfold as I suppress waves of nausea that are attempting to wash over me.
All I could think of, with my eyes closed, my vision gone, my senses dulling at the moment, is that ‘if I die in this jeepney…’ And the thought isn’t even finished. This also keeps on repeating: “I’m sorry.”
Because I am. I’m sorry for a lot of things in my life, but I know right now, right now that I am alive, that if I died then, it’s alright. And that it’s been a great, sixteen years of life for me. And that I am happy, despite the pain that controlled my body like a master puppeteer. And that, if those were the last moments of my life, I knew God was listening to me, that He was there, that He was saving me again.
Right now that I am alive, I know, if I died then, I would’ve died without regrets.
It turns out that the black cat might have meant I was going to survive for another day again.P.S. Regarding the conditions that I’ve been subjected to today, my mother says that they are sympathetic responses to the pain. All I hope is that the next time they come, I won’t be an easy target.