Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Original Sin(s)

I was three years old in 1992, when my parents took me to the theme park for the first time. As a child, I remember being absolutely scared of loud noises and clowns and mascots, and so to assuage my fears, my mother would buy me either toys or candy. That night, I saw a Batman action figure being sold in one of the flea markets in the complex; it was one of those cheap, China-made knock offs, made of poorly cut PVC and with a bad paint job. It even came with a cape, albeit one that was poorly stitched. I looked longingly at the toy, but I realized I had no money; so I waited for the shopkeeper to turn around, before grabbing it and running towards my mom. "Mommy, Mommy, I want this!" I screamed loudly and ran as fast as I could; but when I reached her, she gave me such a slap on the cheeks. "Idiot! Do you want to be thought of as a thief? Go back there and return that thing now!" I did as I was told, but she still ended up buying it for me. Batman lasted a few nights before his legs snapped off and his neck bent permanently to one side, his cape torn off by too much play.

Around a year later, I was at the grocery with the family. Boy that I was, I was a natural nuisance to everyone, and as a result, received a rather severe scolding from my dad that day. No candies for you, he said, no trip to the toy store or visits to your cousin or bedtime stories with your aunt. You've been a bad boy and need to be punished. He said this just as I found a tube of Spearmint Mentos, and as I was about to put it in the shopping cart. In the early nineties, paying for one's groceries, especially in Manila, seemed to take forever; and for what seemed like an hour, we waited in line. And what should appear next to me but a whole shelf of Spearmint Mentos-- tubes and tubes of them? Again, I waited for their eyes to linger elsewhere; and at the age of four, I stole something for the first time. That was a Sunday night, and on Monday morning my parents would hie off to work, which meant I could eat my candies guilt, and punishment, free. Just after lunch, I asked our Yaya to fetch my jeans from yesterday; there was something I had to see, I said. When she returned, she was followed my by grandmother and at least two aunts. Why do you have candy in your pocket? I don't know! Maybe it fell? No one believed me, of course, thankfully. I was duly and dutifully hit with a wooden spatula.

It used to be the custom in our family for us children to take off our parents' shoes after returning home from work. My father had grown up with it, and being a stickler for tradition, decided to pass on the tradition to us. City life, however, had no room for such archaic manners. One time,  instead of doing as I was told, I instead shouted at my dad to take off his own shoes. He did, but for some reason, I had the sudden urge to piss, and I ended up pissing in his shoes. As if that weren't enough, though, I ended up... hitting the soup on the table. Because of that, I ended up spending the night locked outside the house. It still puzzles me why I did that. Thankfully a drunk uncle had come home in the nick of time (i.e., half past twelve; we were living in a family compound then) and allowed me to sleep in his room.

In 1996, I was the most popular boy in my school. I skipped classes and was always at the playground, but still ended up getting good grades, much to the consternation of my teachers. One day I was with Joseph, Jordan, and Joven in the playground, and we were throwing sticks at each other. I think we were trying to see which of us was the strongest, which of us could throw it farthest; and so, we made a bet, whoever can throw the most number of sticks over the wall would win a prize. We did just that; and when it was my turn, I summoned all the power in my biceps and threw the damn stick well across the wall; there was a splash, a noise like falling kitchenware, and a shout. I was doing my victory dance when all of a sudden, a booming voice thundered overhead, launching into a stream of curses and expletives far too complex for me feeble seven year old mind to comprehend. "P----- I-- mong h-------k kang bata ka! Tinamaan mo anak ko sa mata, p-----a!" (More or less: "You m----rf-----g s--t of a child! You hit my child in the eye, you j--k off!") I ran off to my teacher and cried for the rest of the day.

Sometimes I wonder why these are the sins I remember the most. I still don't know why, but they just won't let me go.

No comments: