Ako na.

22 July 2011

I had this dream just a few nights before my last birthday.

It was early in the afternoon, and the professor had just dismissed the class. Everyone in the room - around fifty, though the classroom was built for probably just around forty people - was busy packing up and heading out to the hallway. Some would proceed to their next classes, while others would go elsewhere around campus to spend their free periods or perhaps call it a day and head home. It must have been at the SLIS - all I could remember about the place is that the classroom was at the far end of the wing, at the topmost floor, and the staircase was in the middle of the building. The hallway seemed unusually bright though, as if it were lit by daylight.

Like everyone else, I packed my bags and prepared to leave for my free period. I wasn't going home yet; perhaps I was just gonna stay at the library or have a snack. There were more people in the room than it was designed for - several minutes have passed yet there were still a lot of people inside. Everyone seemed to be in a rush to leave - except me, perhaps, as I continued tidying up my stuff without giving time even the least care. Everyone hurried to the door, and as a result just getting through it became a struggle. "Let them all go out first," I thought, resigning to be the last to leave if it meant not struggling just to get out.

I had my sights set at the door soon after zipping up my bag when I saw a classmate of mine, a girl in a wheelchair, barely moving as everyone else crowded around her. She was trying to make her way out, like all the others, except that she could barely get closer to the door because no one seemed to notice her. No one cared to part to let her get through, not even the guys. I found it strange that she seemed invisible to everyone - she seemed to be a nice girl, and she was quite attractive despite her small stature. Looking at her I couldn't help but wonder why people - especially the guys, perhaps - could afford to ignore her. Then I figured out that I could do better than just watch and wonder. I had to do something, despite the fact that we barely knew each other. I didn't even know her name.

Thoughts of how people might see my intended gesture started filling my mind, but I ignored them as I walked towards the girl. I immediately grabbed the handles at the back of her wheelchair, and started to push gently towards the door without a word. She knew someone was already pushing the chair for her, but she didn't care to find out who that person was. I didn't have to tell everyone to make way - they just did, and in a few seconds we were already at the hallway. Then, a brainwave: If I bothered to get her out the door, I might as well go all the way and help her get out of the building. And so I did. Without a word I started pushing the wheelchair along the hallway, looking straight ahead and into the people I happened to pass by. She didn't seem to realize at first that the wheelchair was already moving - she grabbed the wheels and started spinning it. "Ako na," I told her, and quickly she tucked her arms towards her body. Perhaps it was my way of saying "Hey, I'm here to help you out. Let me handle it." She wanted to turn her head around and see whoever was pushing the wheelchair for her, but she couldn't.

As we made our way to the staircase, I was thinking, "Do I like her?" Well, I must say that I was at that time compassionate for once. I rarely offered to give people a hand - it was unusual for me to do so. I had reasons to admire her - she was clearly my type, but I chose not to think of it (or anything related to it), perhaps because I thought she would be quite difficult a person to deal with. Then I started thinking about what people would make of my actions, considering that I was for a time known in the studentry for my "moves" whenever I happened to hit upon some girl, and just as I was thinking about that I happened to pass by two elderly women - SLIS professors, most probably. They looked at me, and I couldn't help but notice the smirk on their faces, as if saying "how nice of you" or perhaps "we know what you're up to." But then I thought, "Heck; I don't care what everyone thinks - what matters is that I'm helping this girl out." Not because I like her, not because I pity her, but because I can and I want to. Simply put, it was my choice.

After two minutes or so we reached the staircase. I happened to push the wheelchair too close to the edge, so I pulled it back, then took a deep breath and looked at her, asking her to wait as I called some of my friends to help me carry her downstairs. I started wondering what she might be thinking - she was quiet the whole time. I couldn't see her face straight because she never looked straight at me. I had no way of knowing how she felt; I didn't consider asking her for some reason. Then she started weeping - I knew right there and then that she was completely aware of me being there for her. I didn't know what the tears were for; all I could think of was that she probably never expected anyone to come to her aid out of the blue. I knew I had to comfort her, so I sat by her side, near the edge of the staircase, held her hand, and asked why she was crying. She just kept looking blankly ahead, tears falling down her cheeks. I've never done such a thing before, but I just felt the urge to, and it felt great; it was perhaps one of the very few moments in my life when I felt most… human. And it felt great not merely because I liked her, but because I never knew I could be so kind to other people, and I was doing something I knew God always wanted me to do. That's all that mattered.

I spent the next few minutes asking and asking, until she started speaking. She didn't answer my question adequately - all I could understand of her utterances was "kasi." She stopped crying, and it didn't take long for us to pick up a conversation from there. We spent the next several minutes just talking as if we've known each other for quite some time, despite that I only got the chance to know her at that moment. She seemed to have eventually forgotten about going downstairs. We were just there, talking and enjoying each other's company, well until I woke up and realized that it was just a dream.

Whenever I'm reminded of this dream I wonder if I can in actuality be so nice and persevering, if I can ever care for someone so much, if I can ever be willing to come to someone's aid even if it means having to make sacrifices. It was perhaps a reminder of what I live for, where life revolves on, and the only thing that'll ever matter at the end of the day.

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