Catastrophe

In the good old days, the Greeks called this feeling catastrophe. According to the Merriam Webster site, catastrophe is defined as “a momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin.”While that might work for textbook junkies, I think Alex Garland defines it better: it’s the moment when you block a fireball but conveniently forget your life gauge’s on empty.

The thing is, when that happens, there’s this millisecond or so between where you realize that you’re f*ck*d and when you actually are. It starts in the pit of your stomach, then it spreads. Then you start wishing for crazy things, like power outages or whatever, as long as it delays the inevitable.

At any rate, it doesn’t last long. It’s over the moment disaster strikes. You may throw the controller and thoroughly wreck it, whatever. Nothing you do can change the fact that the damage has been done and your ass has been kicked.

I’m sure you know the feeling. It’s happened to you before. If it hasn’t, go out and get a life.

***

“You know if you’ve failed, in class, right?” Mom said while munching on her toast one morning.

“I don’t.” I was telling the truth. That’s the funny thing about law school. You can work your hair white slaving for just one subject and end up failing it. You study like you’ve never studied before and still fail. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. It happened to me in Engineering.

“I don’t believe you,” Mom says, and shuts me off. I want to explain to her that the law school doesn’t work that way, and it’s so much harder than what she thinks, but her mind’s elsewhere, and I’m sure whatever I have to say won’t really matter.

I’m not the one who finished with a Secretarial degree because she felt making money was the only important thing in the world.

===

I got my grades the last week. They released half the grades on Tuesday and released the rest on Wednesday.

That morning, my record had been spotless. As lunch came, I felt my stomach churning. Lining up to get my grade, I felt the nausea spreading.

Meron ka bang bagsak,” the woman in the window inquired. “Wala pa po,” said I.

I tried to stop time, to press the reset button. How I wish life was more like a video game. That way you can just restart and take it from the save point. Whether we like it or we like it (to use an expression), that’s not the way life works.

Kung wala kang bagsak dati, ngayon meron ka na. Isa..”

It’s a good thing cussing and swearing isn’t considered as decent behavior in public.

***

“Ma, I failed one subject. I’m appealing it though.” I hope she can hear through the noise in the registration area.

“See? That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. You never study (although she’s been complaining of late that I don’t join our family Sunday get-togethers because I’ve been studying). You watch movies and TV all the time (never mind that I only got cable the day my finals last semester ended).Wala. Palpak ka talaga. Palpak.

She says a lot more and every word stings. I want to shut her off, but I’m not about to stoop to her level of barbarity.

Now I’m f*cke*d.

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