Today’s Dispatch: Something Horrible

Two weeks after recovering from my hospitalization, another bad thing happened to me.

Those of you who have been following me on Twitter know what happened: Something important had been taken away from me. Something that I needed. Something that I valued. Something that I should have valued well enough to keep an eye on, instead of neglecting it while going through a lot of stress.

Something that I was able to replace easily. Perhaps a little too easily, but not hard to replace.

I am talking here about my laptop, which disappeared at an unguarded moment between 5:15 and 5:30 in the afternoon in front of Palma Hall at UP Diliman.

I hate talking about it because I know – in my heart – that there will be a lot of comments about this. How could you leave it alone? How could you be so forgetful? How could you trust people so much?

Next time, Stella, if I were you… 

But what if there wasn’t a next time?

We could talk, of course, about the recent rash of violent attacks against UP students within the last year alone. And it’s not just students that are getting victimized, either: anyone in this city – or this country – could be forced at knifepoint to hand over their laptops, smart phones, iPads.

They always say that the ones who fight back are the ones who end up getting killed – shot, stabbed, raped, or maimed in any way.

But Stella, you could’ve just –

Shut up, okay? Just shut up and hear me out.

The night I lost my laptop was the same night of my final exams for one of my research classes. I was in no state to take my finals on schedule, but I was too scared to go home and not stable enough to accept that it was gone, even though I did report it to campus security anyway. I waited for my classmates because they knew what was going on.

Some of my classmates checked up on me after they were done with their finals, and they stayed with me for a moment to make sure I was OK. Then one of them asked if I did study, and I said yes – I had, in fact, brought the laptop with me for the purpose of helping me transcribe some notes for the class.

Then they told me: Go back there and take the exam anyway. Multiple choice and some essays, but enough to get my mind off everything that happened.

I went back in there at around 6:25 pm. By 7:30 I was finished, and I was surprised because the essay questions were about the same topics that were also covered in my transcription. They weren’t even half-assed answers, either – I filled out my Blue Book with my answers to all three of the essay questions.

And it wasn’t just my prof from that one class who knew what happened, too. My other professor – the same one whose finals I could not afford to miss before I was hospitalized – was in the same building that night. Word got around to her, and she too checked up on me. Long story short, my sanity was more important to them than their deadlines.

Wouldn’t you push back a deadline, too, if you knew something like this happened to a student of yours, and practically before your very eyes?

Now I’m here before you, writing this blog entry, and I could not be more grateful to realize that I will live to see another day. Why else would I be here?

But please, for our sake, let’s not jinx this.

Love, Stella

2 Responses

  1. What program are you in? Just curious because it sounds strange for exams to be so… flexible. Hope all is well.

  2. I'm a first-year graduate student at the College of Education. Yes, it's a strange situation – and I was already freaking out about the laptop BECAUSE I thought I was late – but the exam was conducted on a school night. I wish I could explain what else happened without saying "you don't know me" or "you had to be there," but let's face it: if my professor really was that "flexible," as you put it, I would have taken a make-up exam at a much later date. And that would have meant another week's worth of waiting for a free day, which isn't what you want when you're chasing five other deadlines as a graduate student.

    As concerned as my professor was about my mental state that night, I ultimately chose to do what I needed to do, with her consent, because I was already in the building and done with the work. We both made that call.

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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