Since I was young, I've always separated matters of the family from school and the other activities that I have. My friends know my dad, my mom and my siblings because I often invite people to come to the house. But I barely dicuss with them issues or problems that I have or had at home. In fact, as I write here while tears stream down from my eyes, I don't think I'd be able to tell this to anyone.
I come from a humble family. My parents aren't rich and their jobs are just enough to support our needs. Since I'm the eldest and I've started working, I feel the pressure to at least shoulder some of the expenses. My parents did not oblige me to help them but I've somehow grasped the idea when we talk. We are aware that in monetary terms, we have less. And we've indentified ourselves with this fact eversince we were young, probably even before I even acquired the faculty of language.
The family of my mother isn't rich as well. Just like us, they also don't have the luxury to constantly go out for fine dines. But we've always been close. My cousins would always invite me to join them in choosing the clothes that they would buy and if they ever need anything that I am aware of more than they do.
On the other side, my father's family has a well-established background. Most of my father's siblings and cousins are abroad allowing their families here in the Phillipines spend more than we do. My divorced aunt in the US assists my parents in sending my siblings to college, with the condition that they take up nursing believing it's the easiest way to leave the country, an offer I (rebelliously) declined.
Most of the people in our place know us and the "benevolent" acts of my father's siblings. Well, to most people who are aware of it, we are said to be indeed lucky.
Not known to them is the pain that comes with the "privilege."
Because only a few are aware that, for almost 22 years of my existence, my father's family has not yet accepted my mom and us, her kids. As I understand, it all started with that hate that arose when my mom got pregnant with me when they were still in college. Another factor is that my mom doesn't come from a rich family or at least the one that would meet their standards.
Our family has been fine even if we don't have as much as my fathers's siblings and their respective families have. My sister and brothers understood and did not demand much.
However, power that comes with money is very evident with my aunts. Some of them support political parties during elections even at their expense. They get invited to special events and we don't. In family hosted celebrations, my cousins won't even touch a plate while we are expected to take part from cutting the vegetables until sweeping the area after the event. They don't demand that my parents share with the expenses so we take part in helping in the preparation. It seems fair and unfair at the same time.
Even in our silence, we never escaped the peering eyes of society. Some who know us well understand. But it hurts to know that my father's own kin keeps us down for a reason we are not aware of until now. What could they still be envious of?
They've taken the land my father inherited and did not even spare the car. By then, I was too young to understand the things that my parents have tried to shelter us from. But I eventually found them out from other people.
Although my father's sisters and cousins seem to get along well, they have a stinking relationship. And the latter do not spare us from the competition they've set among themselves, thinking they were saints waiting for us to bow before them.
It pains me that I could not do anything about it yet and that I could not spare my siblings from the pain, even accused my four-year-old brother to kill my mom in the future. Neighbors don't talk to us but talk about us all the time. And on rare occasions they do, they only want us to understand we are never better than them. From time to time, my parents receive calls from my aunts abroad because some saints "reported" us. Yes, we have episodes of fights inside the house. But not the type that would end up killing each other, just like the fights a family normally has but most of them denied to occur.
I know my parents try to live in their standards however how high my father's family seems to think it is. But no matter what we do and what we don't do, they always find ways to make us wrong. Because whatever we do that are different from what they do are hideous. Just earlier, they did it again.
My father's family has helped us and we recognize that. With the recognition comes the debt of gratitude rooted even before my birth and would not even end after the death of my great grandchildren.
At times like this, I find myself in the confines of a church or a chapel silently weeping. If you surely want to see me cry, talk to me about this. I haven't found anyone who'd surely want to hear this. If you read until this point, I'd even be surprised. My insecurities run and I feel susceptible to more pain whenever this subject is brought up. All my strong suits disappear and my failures arise.
And without much left to say, I thank you for reading.