The drizzle outside complements this wintry afternoon. I thought of buying some milk and peanuts per advice of my eldest sister when we’re still young – “Nami ni ang mani kag gatas kung magstudy ka ba, makapa-bright” (Peanuts and milk are good when you’re studying; they’ll make you intelligent). So despite the cold wind and a little rain shower, I braved to go out and bought those things. The old woman who owns the nearby store told me that her daughter sold me the bear bread I bought four days ago from the same store three thousand dongs less than its actual price so that means I have to pay eighteen thousand (the peanuts cost 15,000).
And now I am back in my room again, listening to Hey Jude! of the Beatles and contemplating about what Anton Checkov said: “Any idiot can face a crisis, it is this day-to-day living that wears you out.” The man never failed to capture truths about humanity. The mundane tires us so much that we can think of nothing but recreating crises after crises in our lives just so we remain useful in our own eyes.
I’ve never felt this scared of a final exam before, not even those that involved numbers. I’ll have the culmination of my stay here in Vietnam six days from now, and the regrets of not studying well when I had enough time are mounting, yet I know that I can do nothing but make the best out of the six days given to me to gain a certain level of proficiency in Tieng Viet. And this mundane task is starting to consume me, to leave me lifeless after.
It’s laughable how our entire life is, all of a sudden, placed at stake as if all the past achievements we have had don’t really matter, as if what counts is only anything that has to do with the now.
Nonetheless, I won’t let this fine afternoon tempt me to wallow in complacency for I am racing against time. I may get a passing grade, but never will I be satisfied with merely passing the subject, my inner self won’t let me. This inner drive is too vicious to settle for mediocrity. This I think is my definition of mundane, commonplace. And, in Checkov’s words, this wears me out.