After clicking beautiful pictures of the place, I sat down at one of the shacks. The girl, who was working there, came to me and asked me do I need something. But before that, her first question (as expected) was “Hello. Is there somebody with you? Do you want anything?” “Hi. No, I am alone. Do you serve vegetarian food?” I asked.
She: No, we don’t. But you can order from a nearby pizza store.
Me: Wow!! Do they really have vegetarian pizzas? (Probably, it was my lucky day.)
She: Of course. Their pizzas are very delicious. You can have a look at their menu.
Me: I want this. Can you order this for me?
She: Definitely. Would you like some beer? Red Horse and San Miguel are the best ones in the Philippines. You should definitely try these.
Me: Okay, maybe later. So, what’s your name? Do you work here? You seem to be a college going girl.
She: My name is Mary. I am a full-time employee here. Yeah, I should be going to college but that’s simply not possible. I don’t have the required money and the documents that are needed for admissions. What are you studying? And why aren’t you travelling with your boyfriend?
Me: I am not studying anything as of now but I would like to do PhD in near future. Right now, I am travelling solo because I love to spend time with myself (uggh!! I was pissed off with this boyfriend thing wherever I was travelling in the Philippines). Do you also travel?
Mary: I wish, but I can’t do so. I am working so that I can go to college one day. And I asked you about your boyfriend because here, even 15-year old girls are in a romantic relationship. They get pregnant at an early age, leave their studies, get married, and raise their baby. Does something like this exist in your country as well?
Me: Oh, that’s very bad. The girl’s family doesn’t have a say in this? And in India, marriage is a very complex thing. There are a lot of factors involved. And sometimes, even love is not enough to keep two persons together. Anyway, so you have a boyfriend?
Mary: Me? No, not at all. I think that’s wastage of time and efforts at this stage. Right now, I just want to find out ways to get admission in a good college. I am working hard and saving all the money in my piggy bank. That is my only focus right now.
There was a guy who used to like me a lot. He told my cousin about it and she conveyed his message to me. But I simply refused his proposal because I have different priorities at present. And I have to do everything alone.
Me: Why alone? Where is your family? Aren’t they supportive?
Mary: Supportive? Hahaha. You know my mother cheated on me. She betrayed me. And my father, who is no more in this world, used to tell me daily that I cannot be his daughter. Anyway, I want you to go to the beach now. See, the sun is going to set any moment now and it’s very beautiful at this time of the day. I know you have a lot of questions in your mind. I will answer everything. But right now, just go to the beach and enjoy your vacation.
I agreed. Not because I was interested in looking at the sunset, but because I wanted to give her alone time. So, I went to the beach and enter inside the water until my knees were soaked. Looking at the horizon where the sky and ocean met, I was thinking about Mary. I was impressed by her bravery, maturity and wisdom at this age. She knew what exactly she has to do. And most importantly, she was doing it against all the odds. For how many people can you say that? Are you doing what you really want to do? Have you even taken the first step yet?