“May kailangan ba akong malaman tungkol sa’yo?” My mom’s voice was stern. It was just over the phone but I still cringed. It was just like when I was still a little boy: me cowering while she scolded me for breaking my toy. Only this time, it was my life that I was ruining.
The semester was already coming to a close. Graduation day was approaching and I was supposed to be among those who will march. But I failed to finish my Special Problem, which meant I was going to be extended for yet another semester. My mother went ballistic when I told her. She can’t be blamed, really; I had already exceeded our curriculum’s span by two years. That was because I messed everything up on my third year. Now that I was going to add another semester to my stay in the university, my mother can’t help but think that I was messing up again. She was going to get answers if she has to beat them out of me. Yeah, just like when I was a still a little boy.
“Ano’ng kailangang malaman?” I asked in a small voice.
“Tungkol sa’yo. Tungkol sa personality mo.”
She knew. Of course she did, she was my mother. No matter how I try, I can never keep a secret from her. The problem is, whenever I confirm her suspicions, she gets angry. That’s why I’m always apprehensive when she tries to squeeze a confession out of me. Besides, why was she asking me this at this time? Does she think it was to blame for my delay? Or was she simply taking advantage of my helplessness to make me answer the question that has long been bothering her?
“Ma.. Kasi..” My voice was helpless, pleading even.
“Anak, sige na. Sabihin mo na sa akin kung ano man yan.”
I started to cry. The day that I had been dreading had come, and her attempt at a comforting voice did not help at all. Was she just pretending that she will be a good sport no matter what I was going to tell her? I was not sure, but I was inclined to think that way. Blame it on the countless times we’ve been through similar situations. This was also what she did three years ago when I screwed up big time in school. She made me believe that she was on my side and that we were going to fix my problems together. Instead, she pulled me out of school for one semester and tried to fix me.
“Anak, kahit ano pa ang mangyari, nanay mo ako. Kakampi mo ako,” she said gently.
I was taken aback. I didn’t expect such gentleness from her voice. It got me to thinking maybe I was too quick to judge her. She was my mother after all, and mothers are supposed to know best.
“Jason, anak, bakla ka ba?” The dreaded question suddenly came. The moment had been building up to this, but I was still unprepared.
I figured my life was already falling to pieces, might as well get this over with now. What’s one more piece?
“Oo ma,” I said between sobs. “At may boyfriend ako. Malapit na kami mag two years.”
There was dead silence from her end.
“Ma, wala tong kinalaman sa SP ko. Hindi ito ang reason kung bakit hindi ko yun natapos. Pero tinanong mo na din kaya eto, inaamin ko na din. Ma, I’m gay.”
The silence continued. Trust my life to always be replete with telenovela scenes. Just weeks ago my boyfriend and I nearly broke up. And it has only been a few days since I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish my SP on time; I had just recovered from the daze. And now this.
“Anak,” she finally said. I sobbed harder after hearing that word. She and I had a very fragile relationship and we both knew it. Ever since I started living away from home back in high school, our once strong bond had seemingly thinned to a thread. Hearing her utter that word at that moment reminded me that I can still hold on to that thread.
“Kahit ano pa ang mangyari, nanay mo ako. Mahal na mahal kita,” she said in gentle voice. That was enough to cast away all of my doubts. I had made the right decision in telling her.
I wish it ended with that, but my life, as I so often realize, is as far from a fairy tale as can be.
She wanted me to change, or rather, she tried to change me. She attempted to cloak it, probably because she did not want to add to the strain, but it wasn’t difficult to spot.
She told me to move to my cousin’s because she’d be more at ease knowing that I was being taken care of. The travel from my cousin’s to my school takes two hours. It would actually be more inconvenient as opposed to staying with my boyfriend in our apartment which just outside the university.
She once forwarded to me the number of one of my classmates from grade school. A girl. She said she just wanted to me to keep in touch with my friends from our town.
She suggested that we talk to someone to help us with our strained relationship. I agreed, and then asked if she knew any therapists. She said she was actually thinking of talking to a priest. I immediately withdrew my approval.
She broke down when I told her that I joined an LGBT organization in our university. I think that was the time she felt the full blow. I was gay and I was not going to change. She cried. It was heartbreaking to see someone as strong as her break down, but she had to understand that this was not something she could fix. It was not something that was broken in the first place.
“Paano ka na anak? Habang andito ako , alam mong ipagtatanggol kita. Paano pag wala na ako? Natatakot ako baka ano na mangyari sa iyo.”
I resolved not to cry. It was at the point that I resolved not to show her any weakness.
“Wag kang mag alala ma. Pinalaki mo akong matapang. Tayong dalawa lang naman ang magkasama mula pa noon, eh di kanino pa ba ako magmamana?” I said as I hugged her. I reassured her that everything will be alright, though it was not something that I entirely believed in either.
We are still pretty much shaky until now, more than a year after I came out. Coming out had further complicated our already complicated relationship. There are a lot of questions on both sides. But we’ll figure it out eventually. That’s what mothers and sons do.