The first thing Zenie ever said that got stuck in my memory is when she introduced herself to us, her blockmates, during our first week in College with these words: “I came from Basilan, the land of the rebels.” Five years later when Zenie and I started working in KPMG, I joked to our officemates that she is actually the princess of Basilan who wanted to experience the life of a normal citizen and decided to run away from her kingdom and become an auditor. And since she is used to getting heads on a platter, they should beware of her wrath. Now I’m not exactly sure why some of them actually believed that. I mean, sure, Zenie does have a temper sometimes, but she would never hurt anyone, much less sever their heads.
The next thing Zenie ever said to me that got stuck in my memory is when she said, “My head hurts because I’m holding my tears in.” We were at our blockmate Gay Fleur’s mom’s funeral listening to Gay Fleur’s eulogy. I remember turning to her to say that I felt exactly the same way and we were both delighted that we shared something in common. That was the first time we ever talked. A few months after, we became friends and our gang, the huggables, was born. We discovered soon enough that we had more than one thing in common.
The next thing that Zenie ever said to me that got stuck in my memory is when she told me, “It’s like a now-or-never situation,” referring to our pending decision on whether or not to take a huge risk by leaving our hometown and try working in Makati.
In the end, we took a leap, and we flourished as roommates in Makati for many years. I’m glad she agreed to join me, because if she hadn’t, I am not sure if I would have had the guts to push through. And yet there she is and here I am, and we would never have been in each of our places, I’m sure, if we didn’t have each other on that fateful day in July 2004.
I don’t remember anymore what was the next thing that Zenie ever said to me that got stuck in my memory. We have been blockmates, seatmates, cheatmates, groupmates, roommates, officemates and housemates. We have said so many things to each other that would take me more than a day to enumerate here. But more than words, we have shared love. She didn’t just get stuck in my memory, but in my heart as well.
Happy birthday, Zenie. I love you always.