“Nay, my birthday is coming, are you coming back home to celebrate with me”, asked Althea,expectantly to her mother over the phone across the ocean. “ I cannot promise but I’ll try,” her mother answered reluctantly. “ I hope you understand, Ale, she added. Althea feel sadness in her heart. ‘ Anyway, how’s everybody at home. Hope that you’ll doing fine there, miss you all”, her mother asked.
Ting!…Suddenly the lift arrived. “ I have to hang up, I’m going up now. I might not call for awhile cause my boss is at home,” she said hurriedly…toot..toot...signaling that her mother call has ended... Althea fight back the tears that clouded around her eyes from falling. She missed her mother terribly but they always have a limited time to talk. Her mother can call only when she goes out to buy something or after she send the kids she is looking after because she is not allowed to use her phone at home. She really wish that her mother will go home to celebrate with her, her 18th birthday. She sighed!
Click! Aling Linda open the door. Rush inside put down her groceries,.. wash her hands and hurriedly prepare things for lunch for her employers.15 minutes left for lunch time. Thump! thump! Thump! Her heartbeat is beating fast.She is extremely nervous. Suddenly a loud bang was heard, and a heavy hurriedly footstep are coming… Thug!Thug! “Linda”,shouted her employer whom his big bellied fat body and bald head is perfectly framed at the door. “What take you so long. What time now”, he asked with his impatient eyes staring at Aling Linda. “It will be ready in 10 mins, Sir”, she answered politely. “Patient, Linda, just for a while”, she muttered to herself to calm down the volcano within her to erupt. This is her life, she was unlucky enough to land to a terror employer but for her children she can endure everything. She wanted to give a bright future for her five children. She lost her husband when her youngest daughter was still a year old and from then on she shoulder all the responsibility as a mother and father to her children that’s why she was determined to work abroad to support them because she cannot earned enough if she stayed in the Philippines.
After Aling Linda’s work that night, she went to bed but she cannot sleep. Crick! Crick! The bed complains. She keeps on turning around into her bed. Suddenly, she got up and looked at her phone. She scroll down her gallery and watched all the photos her children sent her before and without noticing her tears are streaming down nonstop. She missed them. And she saw a group photo of her children during the moving up of Althea, her youngest child. She notices that she was really a grown up now and next summer will be her 18th birthday. She is her only daughter. She leaves her when she was just a year older and never celebrated her birthday with her because her vacation usually not in summer. She feels suffocated and made a decision to have her vacation to be in summer this time around. She will beg her employer for that. After that she fall asleep.
In the morning, after her work, she sat down and courageously send a messages to her employer asking if she could have her vacation in the summer. Thump! Thump! Thump! Goes her heart while waiting for their reply. Ting! Here comes a message. Lets see later, comes the reply.
Later that night her employer approved to her surprised. There reason is that they understand for she worked for them for a long time, 15 years to be exact. She cried that she forgot that she is in front of her boss. She thank them gratefully and rushed to inform her daughter of the good news.
Ting! Althea’s phone blink. It was already 10 Pm and around this time she is already in the middle of her dreamland caused in the province they usually sleep early. Lazily she reach out her phone from the table near her bed with her eyes closed. Upon looking that it was from her mother she quickly got up and excitedly open and read the message. “I can go home”, it read.
“When” she replied, hurriedly.
“On your birthday”, her mother replied. After that they planned excitedly and around 11 pm they call it off.
Althea is in a cloud nine. She feels so excited and happy. For the first time she thought “mommy is coming home”. She remember that she was only with her mother for about around 9 times maybe because she can only meet her every two years in a row, with a duration of 21 days or 3 weeks time. Then after that they continue to communicate as usual.
Sometime by the end of December in 2019, the pandemic arrived. How quick the virus spread and the probability to be transferred is very high. Death rate is increasing rapidly especially in Wuhan, China. By the time of March there were already lockdown in every country including Hong kong and Philippines.
“Ale, I’m sorry but I have to cancel my vacation, I cannot go home this coming summer,” Aling Linda informed Althea chokingly over the phone. “You heard the news about the lockdown right” she added. I really wanted to celebrate with you, your 18th birthday but I can’t do anything. You know I desperately needed this job for all of you, she continued. Althea just listened to her mother’s explanation. She was frustrated and her heart was aching but what can she do. “Nay, just take care of yourself. I understand, let see each other after this” she comforted her as she let her tears to freely run on her cheeks. Her mother’s blood pressure is very high lately. She doesn’t want her to think too much. She went to the doctor twice already. It runs in her gene.
Finally, it is already 2021, a year after COVid-19, visited the city and decided to play around. Now Althea and her siblings are waiting for the plane to land. Yes, her mother is finally coming home. She is coming home and not going oversea anymore. She must be happy cause her mother can celebrate with her birthday and graduation but how? She always send her mother off and welcome her with a wide smile and a tight hug but now she will welcome her in a sealed box.