Sunday, January 29, 2006


In my student days, I took up enough subjects in the Physical and Social Sciences to know that there are people who, for one reason or another, get afflicted with mental and social illnesses.

Like most people, I heard it but didn't really think about it. I mean, sure, I sometimes see a grubby man or woman wandering about aimlessly. There are gory news, at times, of some deranged man having gone off a fit and doing something horrible (which may or may not entirely be true due to the veracity of the source tabloid or magazine).

So, I go on thinking that, yes it happens, but chances are a million to one, right? People get sick mentally or socially but it only happens sometimes, right?

That's a happy and comforting thought and I would have preferred to go on thinking that way if not for a news I heard yesterday.

My daughter and I were waiting for her schoolbus when I heard someone call me. It was the mother of my high school friend. I greeted her and asked about my friend with whom I lost touch after graduation.

She didn't answer at first and instead asked me about my daughter. She seemed happy for me but I noticed that there seemed to be tears in her eyes. I was waiting for her to give me the same happy news about her daughter, my friend. I was expecting that if she's not married, then surely she's holding a good position in a big company somewhere.

See, that friend of mine was really smart and a go-getter in elementary and high school. She was a consistent honors student and was a very responsible member of the Student Body. She was quite well known in school and went on to a premier Philippine University in college.

Then, with wavering voice, my friend's mother told me about her daughter's condition. It seemed that the straight A student, the once school leader, my high school friend, developed a mental and psychological problem. That she has become quarrelsome and violent. That she refuses to work and just moves in their place picking fights with everyone. Her parents, helped as they did their daughter, could not do anything anymore. She was deeply angry with them and have refused professional help. Now, all they could do is to provide her her needs, try to keep peace with their family and placate their angry neighbors.

It was all so sad. She has so much potential. And, though I felt guilty for not trying to see her sooner, her mother informed me that she believes it won't do much good since she has refused to see any of her former friends. That even when some of them insists to speak or see her, she just gets angry with them and with her mother, too.

I really didn't know what to say. Her mother stood there telling me all this and I could see that she, too, is trying desperately to understand what happened to her daughter. In the end, I just hugged her and told her that I pray everthing will come out alright for her daughter, my friend.


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