This week, I began taking my three Ph.D. comprehensive exams, after I have passed the two language exams -- one in Spanish and the other in Bikolano. For Spanish I translated four -- yes, four! -- 19th century Spanish short stories. I do not know how I passed the darned exam. And for Bikol, I took a four-part exam ending with an essay -- yes, an essay! -- I had to write in Bikol. For this exam, I prayed to my Bikolana grandmother, dead for the last 12 years to write the essay for me. I think she came to my rescue, because I also passed the exam.
Last Monday I took the exam on Anglo-American Fiction in the 20th century, from ten am to 5 pm. Yesterday, I took the exam on Philippine Literature, from 9 am to 5 pm. I could feel my fingers jiggling from all the effort of answering -- even if done via the computer.
That is why I could not watch any of the UAAP games. I had to read and re-read those texts, many of which I read when I was in college, from 1979-1983. What is good about re-reading them is that I found myself experiencing, finally, the moments in those novels. What are those feelings I cannot say, here, but let me just tell you growing older is not such a bad thing.
The day of the UAAP Game I passed by the grade school and saw McBo, the eatery founded by a former chief of security of Ateneo and an old friend of mine. I went there to look for his wife, Aling Lita, but Mang Bo was there. He gave me a free meal, an Ilocano dish of vegetables and milkfish which I finished in ten minutes. The other tables had drivers and yayas and aunts and parents, and we ate merrily and noisily the great, home-cooked food.
Then I had to hit the books again, while in Araneta Coliseum, the cheers of the crowd went through the roof.
On Friday, I will take my comprehensive exams in Asian Literature. And so it is time to visit and revisit the books of Harumi Murakami and Arundhati Roy, Praomedya Ananta Toer and Kobo Abe.
If I survive this last exam and the final exams of my students next week, I will sleep the sleep of the just -- for days!