Fifty years ago, my best friend and I went to the same school and enrolled in an engineering course. Though still young and carefree, we diligently studied and did our assignments together. Despite our determination, we found ourselves struggle in pain over mathematics…the backbone of any engineering courses. And something happened at the end of the semester that we did not expect. He got failed in the two math courses while I got a barely passing grade.

I was greatly saddened and naturally disappointed on the result. And worst, his parents decided to stop him schooling. Thus, he lived and assisted his father in the farm planting rice and corn as what their parents earned their living. The world seemed upside down. When the semester ended, I visited him on our village. As he was looking frail and sickly in front of me, my heart melted. I embraced him and said,” How you have changed my friend?”. And he answered, “Yes, I have had some hard times adjusting on this way of life! It is because of that failure in mathematics that they stopped me schooling!”

I was greatly devastated. With the help of my parents, we were able to convince his parents to give him another chance. Fortunately, his parents heartily agreed. He dropped the engineering course and proceeded to enroll in a nautical course. My heart leaps up and down in joy knowing their approval. Though we studied different courses and lived in a separate boarding house in the city, we are still able to meet on some festive occasions.

Time flew so fast. Both of us passed government licensure examination on our respective courses. Since then, we had not seen each other.

Forty years had passed. Then one day while having a lecture in an engineering course in one of the universities in the metro Manila, I was informed by my boss that somebody was looking for me at the gate of the university. Genuinely shocked and surprised, I instantly saw him at a distance in a toothy smile. Like before in our childhood days, he instantly threw his arms around my neck and said,” How are you then my friend? It’s long time, no see.” “Am fine,” I said with a pleasant smile. Then he led me to his expensive sports car parked nearby.

He brought me to his private mansion in a nearby subdivision and promptly introduced to her family. They enthusiastically received me like a king with all the hearts and proper attention. I instantly saw some of his expensive cars parked in a garage.

I had learned that he had been a ship captain in one of the overseas cargo ships for the past several decades and still serving to date. He was just on vacation leave to attend her youngest daughter graduation in one of the premier schools of medicine in our country. “Sometimes I regret for not seeing my only daughter grow up the past years since I am far away,” he confided his feeling.

And while dining we laughed and happily reminisced about our past that we had been through and the encouragement we had done to his parents in persuading them to continue his schooling.

Today as I visited his grand mansions with luxurious cars parked inside, my heart is pounding with unspeakable joy and contentment. His success in life is also my happiness. The part I played heroically by convincing his parents coupled with my friend’s determination to complete a nautical course always haunting my memory as we grow older by the passing of days. But the picture that once upon a time we were both struggle in pain over mathematics in an engineering course remains in our brain.

Life is indeed a struggle and pain.

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