Sugar Baby: Love Unexpected
- Genre: Romance
- Age: 18+
- Status: Completed
- Language: English
- Author: Empress Kei
After she heard the conversation between her parents, Catherine stormed off and went to her favorite spot – on top of the hill near their house. Since they transferred their residence, it had been her sanctuary every time she was upset about something.
It was not right to get mad at her parents for being poor, but that’s what she felt. Her high school graduation was around the corner and they were already discussing where to send her off to work as a household help or a domestic helper. Everyone in their village immediately went to work after graduating from high school, but she didn’t want to work as a domestic helper. She wanted to study and enroll herself in college but they were too poor to afford the university fees.
Even if it was still early, she hoped that there would be a falling star from the sky. She had been doing it for the past few months since she learned that a wish when there’s a falling star could sometimes be granted.
She was desperate and wishing on a falling star was her only hope! She was shunned by her relatives that she was too ambitious for her own good and that she should just be contented with what she had. The problem was, she couldn’t be contented with what they had, she wanted more, she wanted to do more!
Her knees touched the tip of her chin while she was sitting on the grass and patiently waiting for a falling star. Another sigh escaped from her lips when there was none. Could it be because of the full moon? But she couldn’t give up on her only hope! She waited until midnight, but it was only until the moon was hanging low in the sky that a falling star appeared. Her eyes widen as she saw it coming and immediately closed it to make a wish.
“I wish I can study at a university this coming June,” she wished ardently with all her heart, and after it was said, it was only then that she opened her eyes and started to get up and go home. She walked slowly in a sloppy terrain while keeping both of her eyes vigilant for any reptiles. Although she had a strong personality, Catherine was terrified of snakes and anything that crawl on the ground.
A few meters from the thatched bamboo structure where her family of nine lived, she saw that the lights were off and it meant that she had to climb to get herself inside their house. For Catherine, it was a small feat and her blood was so much alive after she wished for the falling star.
“Where have you been?”
She was surprised to hear her mother speak as soon as her feet landed on the bamboo floor. “Good evening, Mama.” Catherine greeted her mother who was sitting in one of the corners while waiting for her, then a lampara was lit using the only lighter that her father owned. They were too poor they couldn’t get a new lighter or afford the connection fee to have electricity in their small house. In their neighborhood, their household was the only one which remained using a lampara as a source of light during nighttime.
A lampara is an improvised lamp using an empty bottle of Vino Kulafu, refilled with kerosene, and an article of shredded old clothing put inside and only its tip was visible on top of the bottle where they could light it with a matchstick or a lighter.
“Are you always this irresponsible?” Roselyn’s voice was calm and yet she reprimanded her stubborn daughter for staying late outside. She was aware of her worries but there was nothing she could do to help her. They were so underprivileged that it would be difficult to send her to the college school in Moalboal.
Catherine was aghast when her mother talked to her in a condescending tone that always infuriated her. She frowned and looked away, towards her brothers and sisters who were lying on the floor like sardines. They couldn’t even afford a blanket for each child and yet her parents refused to do something about it. Why couldn’t they understand that they have to work hard not just for today but for the future? She has dreams, and she only wanted to make their life a little bit more comfortable. “I’m not the irresponsible one, Ma, but you. You know that we are very poor and yet you keep on getting yourself pregnant!” She hated her mother for not using birth control pills or any forms of family planning that were available in the health center. Her father was a fisherman at night and a farmer during the daytime. It was too hard for him and yet he couldn’t stop working or they would have no food to eat. Catherine just couldn’t understand why they couldn’t stop with only one child or two.
In the silence of midnight, a slap echoed in their tiny home, and Catherine could only cry when her mother’s palm struck her cheek. Without saying anything, she lay down beside her younger sister, Erlin, and closed her eyes to sleep. However, sleep was elusive for someone like her with big dreams and little hope to achieve those dreams. Tears flowed out from her eyes as she convinced herself not to give up on her dreams or her family would forever be one of the poorest of the poor!
When morning came, Catherine was smiling again while fetching water from the only water pump that the neighborhood had. The hard slap she got from her mother last night didn’t kill her hope even just a little bit. In effect, she was even more determined to succeed to prove that it wasn’t useless to dream high like her parents always told her. She wanted everyone in their neighborhood to see that poverty would never be a hindrance to success! She wanted to be the first in their area to earn a bachelor’s degree and work in an office with a great salary! She didn’t want to end up like everyone else who ended up working as a household maid or a factory worker!
“Good morning, Kate. You seemed happy today, is it your birthday?”
Catherine smiled at Norman’s mother, Kristina. “Good morning, Auntie. Why are you doing the laundry? Where’s Marjorie and Mary?” She asked the woman who was a great inspiration for Catherine. Kristina has been vocal in supporting her to go to college and she said that she had the potential to be successful. It was just ironic that the moral support she needed came from someone outside her family.
“They went to their grandparent’s house to bond with their other cousins,” Kristina answered.
Catherine nodded and she wished that she could also bond with her other cousins in the upland. Kristina and her father Vic came from the same upland community and they were also distant cousins. Her mother and Kristina’s husband were also second-degree cousins who were relatives. “I see. I’m sure they would have a great today, Auntie.”
“I hope they would. So, where will you go to college?” Kristina inquired while scrubbing the denim pants in her laundry.
Her classmates were probably in the city already and university hunting, but she was still stuck in their neighborhood. Catherine was only able to study in a private school because of the scholarship they offered and her teachers inspired her to be more and do more. Without the scholarship from Saint Augustine Academy and Mrs. Nita Canete’s sponsorship for her uniform, school supplies, and allowances, there was a chance that she wouldn’t be able to finish high school. “I’m still searching for a university that offered scholarships, Auntie,” Catherine answered. Last week, she took the scholarship exam from TESDA but they would only grant free tuition for a two-year course, nevertheless, she hoped that she would pass. She was desperate, very desperate!
“Okay. There’s a university near my husband’s workplace, why don’t you go with him on Monday and try to apply there? I heard that all universities in Cebu have scholarship offerings!” Kristina excitedly shared the information she gathered from her husband, Jerry.
“Are you sure, Auntie? Okay, I’ll go with Uncle Jerry, but I hope he wouldn’t mind me tagging along.” She was worried that Kristina’s husband would decline and it was scary to go into the city alone, and for the first time. She had a little savings from her allowance and she could use it for bus fare and food expenses while in the city.
“Don’t worry. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind,” Kristina answered and she was happy to see Catherine’s hopeful eyes. If only her family was not struggling too, she would help, but they were also financially restrained after her eldest son was diagnosed with a mental illness that needed expensive medicines for maintenance.
Like a robot who didn’t know how to be tired, she worked hard all day, and her excitement never faded even after dinner. Her excellence in academics was her strength to pass the scholarship test and the first step to take was to apply.
One month before the classes would start, she received a call, no, three calls. One from TESDA, one from the University of Cebu, and one from the University of the Visayas. She passed their scholarship and she was asked to submit additional requirements to start the processing of her enrolment in any course. Catherine was ecstatic and confused about which one to choose. TESDA would shoulder the cost if she would study at the University of Southern Philippines for a four-year course and she was tempted to choose it, however, one of her cousins discouraged her from choosing that university because it was a little high end and she would find it hard to adjust. Junjun could only be envious when he looked down at her, but she listened to him, and choose the University of the Visayas out of the three.
“Who told you that you would go to college?”
Catherine was shocked that even with the scholarship she got, her mother was still against her idea to study at a university. “But Mama, this is the only chance that our family situation will improve!” She cried while she insisted on her ideals.
“Enough of this foolishness, Catherine! You will only be disappointed with your ambitions in life!" Roselyn yelled at her eldest daughter for being tenacious about going to the university.
“No, you are wrong. I will only be disappointed if I won’t even try,” she said and walked away.