Life, though ephemeral, imparts memories and lessons that lasts a lifetime.Life is like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes we experience triumph wherein we rejoice and wish that this euphoric moment would last forever. Sometimes we experience desperation and hope that this torment will end soon. You know, it is easy to tell people to move on, but moving on is the most painful part of life. Reality hurts.
Along the gloomy corridor of the east side of College of Science and Mathematics contains one of the most expensive laboratories of the university, the Molecular Biology Laboratory. This state-of-the-art laboratory is managed by this short, hairy and jolly man, Dr. Severo T. Bastian Jr., or “Toto” as what his colleagues and his family fondly call him.
I first saw him when I was still a freshie. He was famous to our batch since he’s the father of our classmate, Joie. And then he became the Department Chair of the BSES Department. I will never forget him, most especially during the preregistration and enrolment period. I would always plead him to let me transfer to another lab section despite some discrepancies with our schedule. Also, he helped us (with Anj, Mon, Mark, Aiai, and Yuri) to take BIO101 (Molecular Biology) despite on flunking one of its prerequisites, CHEM160 (Biochemistry). I will never forget the efforts he had exerted just for us.
He was not just a simple Molecular Biology professor, but a great father to all of us.
One time, I went to the Dean’s office for some reasons. I sat in the couch and then he entered the room. He sat beside me and cracked a joke. He’s the type of person who hates dull moments. Even if I didn’t understand his joke, I still laugh since he wanted me to be happy (I was kinda pissed off at that time).
Aside from jokes, he keeps on reminiscing his Japan moments. Every details of it were very vivid as he retold his Japanese escapade. He also shared us some funny stories about her two daughters, Joie and Jee Sean and how lucky he is to be the father of Joie and Jee Sean and a lovely husband of their mom.
One day when I got weary and tired after the first attempt of the skinning of the cat, he sat right in front of me on the entrance hall of CSM. He asked me why I’m tired. I told about the cats, the killing process and etc. He even gave me few advices; like chloroform is a carcinogenic substance and we shouldn’t be exposed to it for a long time. I could see his “fatherly” concern to us. I just smiled to him and he left right away since he had lots of things to do.
Every time he walks on the old corridors of CSM, he never removes his dimpled smile, until the last week of his existence.
Wednesday. I was in the Wildlife Laboratory, doing my Fil1 report. The door was widely open so I can see who’s walking along the corridor. I saw Sir Toto walking in the corridor every five minutes. There was something odd about him. I couldn’t forget his sad face. It was highly unusual seeing the “forever-smiling face of CSM” to be so sad. I thought he wasn’t in the mood at that time since he was very busy, signing all the papers from the administration and all application forms for the outline defense.
Thursday. Apparently, it was supposed to be our scheduled exam in Molecular Biology. At around 6 in the morning, Joie sent us a text message, telling that the exam was called off. He didn’t report to school, not until in the afternoon. He attended the outline defense of Kuya Weller since he’s the adviser. His voice was very odd. But still, he tried to smile despite his worsening condition.
The last time I saw Sir Toto was Friday. He was in the Molecular Bio lab, attending the outline defense of Joie, Cha, Neil and Maria.
Sunday, 2.30 am… Neil im-ed me about the critical condition of Sir Bastian. He was asking for prayers for Sir Toto’s fast recovery. He was in the ICU. Joie was crying all day, all night, as well as Jee Sean.
Sir Toto left the mortal world at around six in the morning.
I was really shocked by Sir Toto’s sudden demise.
We always think that what we see in drama series aren’t real – a product of man’s exaggeration.
Today, it’s not an exaggeration, but rather a bitter reminder to all of us that life is unpredictable.
The once happy moments of Sir Bastian are now shrouded with pain, despair and loneliness.
Sir Toto, we will miss you – your dimpled smile, your jokes, your coffee, your advices and most of all, your unconditional love for us.