Just when I thought I was busy living my life, a grimy stuffed toy on Grandmother’s roof gripped my attention. It had probably been there for ages, unmoving and ignored. It had probably been turned dark by past summers and monsoons. Or maybe it was there to remind me of something not even meteorological conditions could fade.
The toy turned out to be my youngest sister’s. It used to be one of her playmates when she was, like, at the peak of childhood.
She had thrown it off the roof, and could not exactly remember when and why. Was it her way, too, of throwing away the childhood she had just lived?
Not only is our time making growing up trickier for children, it is also making children overlook the things that are supposed to make them—toys, culture, adventure, innocence, etc.
My 12-year-old sister was first trained to become a badminton player at 9. In fact, she won her first battle.
My mother was the proudest when my sister played for our province of Tarlac in the Batang Pinoy 2017, a Philippine sports competition for athletes under 15 held in Vigan City, a Wonder City of the World.
She played with enthusiasm and ripeness, and could even beat older players. But sport, I have realized, could not make her immune to the menace called early life.
While sublime reality shows children living easier lives, sad reality shows children being doomed by everyday disparities, wars.
On the other hand, it’s saddening that a child’s early life is already buried. Thanks to technology for providing a grave.
In mid-2017, one of my older siblings sent money so our girl could finally own a “personal property” other than her notebooks. Despite a television news report of a child’s seizure due to excessive use of gadgets, my parents were unstoppable in spending the Kuwaiti remittance for her phone.
Starting from the day she was given the phone, my sister went to bed late. She left the house only for school or training. She clicked before she dined, to the point that my mother had to scream to call her attention. It seemed like her fingertips got wobbly without her phone’s kiss.
I use my phone regularly. Given this premise, disallowing my sister to use a phone would be ironic.
According to the Pew Research Center based in Washington, D.C., millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996. On the other hand, studies say that postmillennials are those born
between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s. I was born in 1998, so that makes me a postmillennial.
Engulfed by clichéd stories, the preceding generation might have influenced me in the same way or another that I might have influenced my generation.
One late night, I asked the girl why she hadn’t gone to bed. Instead of an answer, the question came rushing from her mouth to my face: “Eh ikaw! Bakit gising ka pa?” (And you? Why are you still up?)
I signed off and found my way to bed, ashamed. As I closed my eyes, I felt unhappy about what I have become.
I have unboxed myself and then boxed her in. I have enticed her into my postmillennial tendency. I have become a villain in her childhood story.
I should have been the scarecrow warning her of the culture she should not eat.
I know that at 12, she will have more ways to decipher the world. I know that as a badminton player who joined regional athletic encounters twice, she will have more battles to win. She will have more, despite having less in childhood.
I would not wish to see her playing hide-and-seek again. I would not wish to undo the big leap that she is making. All I hope is for her to not forget that little infinity she had just lived.
It’s fair enough that the grimy stuffed toy appeared before my 19-year-old eyes to serve as a reminder.
It reminded me of my 9-year-old self marvelling at the wind turbines in Bangui. It reminded me of the very first time I crossed my comfort zone.
It reminded me of the appointments I would not miss in the streets or wherever — just playing and running and laughing. I remember making blissful, sometimes peculiar, memories, such as writing on a banana leaf and decorating a carabao’s poop as if it were a cake. It reminded me of the vast wounds my Filipino skin caught from being reckless—not that I was not afraid at all.
I was bold despite my mother making me sleep all afternoon and spanking me when she caught me off-guard displaying my immaturity on the side of the road.
Despite my sister’s attempt to be rid of the toy, it had managed to survive. And that’s what childhood memory is supposed to be: unyielding and resilient. It should survive the summers and monsoons of our very memory.
Kids, if you are reading this, I hope you are both happy and proud of what you are.
I know that time is a whirlwind, and that you will succumb to adulthood the soonest. Just pick up your toys and live out this very part. Now. Live it, and then remember it.
Be a Miguel in this world full of Cocos. Be the one who
remembers while it’s not yet too late.
Every now and then, the music of your youth shall swiftly play: Remember me.
* * *
Mark Christopher Viuda, 19, hails from the plains of Sinigpit in Paniqui, Tarlac, “where the music of his youth always plays.” He is working on his internship narrative report, a final requirement before receiving a degree in development communication in June.
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