Yesterday, Iam, my 13 year old nephew, said goodbye to me and Mama. He was leaving Lianga after spending the summer vacation here and going back with his brother to Butuan City in Agusan del Norte where both of them go to school.
When he did that there were tears his eyes and I was deeply touched. He clearly did not want to go. I made no comment and kept silent. For more than anyone else I understood what was going on in his mind. Because many, many years ago I was just like him and I too felt as he had felt. So I just hugged him, turned and walked away.
A week before, his two other cousins, both of them younger than him, also left town after spending weeks in Lianga. All four of them were very close and inseparable and when Josh and Muriel left, it was also a rather emotional and reluctant departure.
How does one make the transition from almost two months of an idyllic summer vacation to the hectic, harried life of being a student in the city? Of waking up again to the shrill, rude and insistent ringing of an alarm clock rather than to the soft murmur of a household greeting the new day or the warmth of the sun on one's face as the morning sun starts peeping through your bedroom window?
No assignments, no homework and no projects to complete. Just the whole day to do whatever you like. No schedules to keep and hard rules to abide by. Just living, day in and day out.
One can take a bath in the sea on a whim any time or go strolling or bicycling through town or spend time visiting neighbors. One can also play with friends in the streets and alleyways in the coolness of the morning and evening and in the shade of the houses in the heat of the day. Or one can just laze the day away in front of the TV set and not feel guilty at doing so.
Then there is having the real time to spend with your family and the people you love, time to share jokes and stories, time to reconnect and simply enjoy the pleasure of their company.
So when Mama's grandchildren do express sadness and shed more than a few tears at leaving Lianga when they have to go back to school, I do understand and sympathize with them. After all this town is their real home, where their roots are and where they will always be loved and cherished.
I was once young like them and I too, like them had to leave Lianga for the city when the hot and sunny days of May gave way to the dreary and often wet days of June. I too felt sad and wept a little bit. And like them, I too wished for the one thing that, even in my childhood innocence, I knew was a wish that could never be granted.
I wished then as I wished now for a summer that would never end.