In two days my youngest brother, Joseph, will be celebrating his 14th birthday. But just like all the other occasions that passed–my own birthday, Christmas and New Year–I won’t be able to visit the province because I still have a lot of things to fix here in Manila. And that makes me feel sad because I have a promise, which in two days will be broken.
My brother is a bright kid. He is the most intelligent among us three boys. Without even trying, he always passes his exams, and surprises my parents with all the school contests in which he wins. When he was just a kid, I used to scold him because of all the mistakes and trouble he had been getting himself into. He was stupid. But it turned out that he might be just the child my parents have been waiting for, the one who will graduate from school with flying colors and will bring a bit of honor to the family name. Things I wasn’t able to do when I was younger.
The last time I visited my family, my Mom told me that Joseph just competed in a chess competition and his Math teacher promised him a point increase in his grades whether he wins or not. But my brother lost. It was one of his first tastes of failure and it broke him. To add further insult to my brother’s injury, his teacher didn’t give him the grade incentive. According to my Mom, Joseph cried himself to sleep that day when he lost the chess battle. I got sad, not only because our Joseph failed, but because my two younger brothers were going through all the changes and challenges of their adolescence, while I, their Kuya, am missing out on everything.
Before leaving for Manila, I gave Joseph a pat on his back and told him to keep up his good work at school. He was just on the Top 7 spot that time. To give him more motivation to study harder, I promised that I would buy him his own cellphone with a camera and music player for his birthday. I know how it feels to study with almost nothing but my allowance, books, pen and notebooks, so I wanted to give him one of the luxuries I didn’t have the chance to enjoy when I was still studying. That promise also served as one my own motivations for doing my best at work.
But shift happens.
Joseph is already the Top 1 of his class. And I just got hired this morning.