I got an email from the Asian Center for Journalism the previous week that Creative Writing, the course that I put on my list to take the following semester, was on a first come, first served basis; and that the professor would only take 10 students for it; and that I, and Prateeh of Nepal; and Yuri of Jakarta, and Pooja in Manila did not make it.
“I can’t believe it!” I said, because I felt I was among the first to express interest in it.
In fact, I was already interested in the course even before it was offered; because the course has been an unfinished business for me ever since I failed to come up with the collected works demanded for the creative writing thesis for that MA in English in Creative Writing I took at the Silliman University (SU) many years ago.
The pressure of the daily deadline, earning a living, raising a kid with asthma and finally looking for means to pay the boys’ tuition (including my inability to write a good enough short story?!) have prevented me from coming up with so-called body of works.
(How could I come up with a body of works, when I don’t even own my body in the first place?” I used to retort to friends who asked about it, referring to the role women are always forced to assume as mother, the nurturer and breadwinner at the same time).
That’s why, when the news first came out that they’re going to offer three units of creative writing as an elective for the MA Journalism Fellowship we’re currently taking at the ADMU, I was secretly dancing with joy.
"What am I going to do with a subject like THAT?" Seng Thong had asked from Ventiane. "It can't earn extra money in Laos!"
"But money can't buy everything you want in in life, Seng," I said, "Including love!"
"Why are you so crazy about THAT course?" he asked.
"Because it's my first love," I said. I did not say, journalism is just an alibi, an excuse.
But I was on the road when the emails came. It was obvious that everybody has beaten me to it. When they sent their list of courses, I was still on a Rural Transit bus bound for Dipolog, looking out to what I could make out of Kulambogan town of Lanao del Norte, wondering whether the Jamiatul cooperative of the Maranao women I knew years ago was still there; hearing some stories from the passenger who sat next to me, about what happened there at the height of the government and MILF fighting in August.
Or, perhaps, I was on the wharf sitting next to a police officer inspecting passenger baggage when darkness descended upon Mukas, Lanao del Norte; and I was in panic because I thought I was left behind by my bus, still stranded in Ozamis, on my way to Cagayan de Oro.
I never had the chance to log on to an internet café during that long and exhausting trip. Except perhaps, if I had succumbed to that temptation at the sight of that cozy internet café in Dapitan, just across the shop where they sell souvenir t shirts featuring the Rizal shrine and Dakak; but then, I fought off that impulse, and asked the tricycle, instead, to bring me to the Polo crossing, where buses bound for Cagayan de Oro pass by. I spent a straight 15 hours on the road from Dapitan to Davao, only to find out about the devastating news after I arrived!
Now that I can hear the halls of learning slamming its door shut on me again, I don’t know how to console myself because like the first time, I feel disoriented and confused; and suddenly, I realized, life has lost its meaning!