A line of classmates standing together like a domino stack, like a colony of gowns, like a row of monks. And you smiling your big smile right in the middle, my beloved bullseye.
We’re waiting for them to call your name. We’re waiting to release our joy, shooting up like jack-in-the-boxes, slapping our hands red for you. Cameras out to snap your glory, our mouths hanging open, and we stretch onto our tippy toes to make sure we don’t miss you.
Each time a student crosses the stage, eager for a handshake, eyes fixed on their diploma, we hear hoots and hollers. And each time I have to sit back down again, clutch my chest, resist the urge to hide under my folded seat. Because my lastima can’t take the hooting and the hollering. The difference in reactions. The varying levels, the shamelessness of it. Some scholars get uproarious applause while others receive one mere “woot.” So quiet maybe only God is cheering them on.
You’re coming up in line. I see your tassel bobbing. And I’m worried. What if you don’t get the noise you deserve? Like a rock star. Then I notice, I don’t think the kid in front of you has anybody here. He approaches the stage, and it is silent. And I want to cry, but I’m up on my feet, I’m hooting and hollering like he’s the answer. And it feels good. So I don’t stop.
I keep on clamoring for everybody, all those robed strangers. By the time it’s your turn, I know I’ll be hoarse, I know I’ll be tired, but it doesn’t matter. You’ve achieved. You’ve all achieved. Sometimes my lastima needs achieving too.
p.s. So many cheered for you - whew :)