Mama called out my name and shoved me a little to wake me up. I sat up and rubbed my eyes. I wasn’t mad at her for cutting my trip to dreamland, because I was used to this — Mama does this for at least once a week.
I looked outside the family bedroom’s window and saw a huge truck parked outside our house. I saw my name, printed in glow-in-the-dark stickers, pasted on its hood. Iara Paulina, read the letters placed just above its headlights.
I noticed a light between the bottom of the door and the floor and immediately got up, even though it was only past midnight and I needed to have at least eight hours of sleep as a 5-year-old. He’s here, I thought.
The brightness of the fluorescent light of our living room felt blinding. I knitted my brows, squinted and blinked a couple of times, until I saw a figure sitting on our sofa. He was smiling wide, showing off the gap where some of his teeth used to be.
“Papa!” I shouted, giggling. I ran to him and he circled his arms around my body. I felt his calloused hands pressing against my skin. He kissed the top of my head and I buried my face in his jacket.
Papa smelled like cigarette smoke and car air freshener. I hated both smells because they made me dizzy and nauseous, but I still held on to him.
I heard a rustle and pulled away from him, then I noticed that he was pulling something out of a plastic bag. He fished two boxes from the bag; the first one was the size of a school notebook, and the other was about as big as a cell phone. Both had a combination of red and blue colors and had faces of “Voltes V,” an old TV cartoon about a team of five people operating a huge robot to defend earth from horned humanoid aliens.
Papa and I used to watch “Voltes V” together on weekends, and he said that he, too, watched the show as a kid. He opened the bigger box first, and it produced parts of Voltes V. I sat beside him and started picking up the robot’s pieces, happy that I was able to create my own “Super Electromagnetic Machine Voltes V.”
Papa opened the smaller box, and it also contained chunks of my favorite robot, only smaller. I put the fragments on the floor and started assembling the foot of the robot.
“Matulog ka na, may pasok ka pa bukas. Bukas mo na gawin ‘yan,” I heard Mama say.
I didn’t want to go back to our bedroom because I wanted to finish building my toy. But I also didn’t want to be late for school in the morning, and I was afraid that my mother would scold me if I didn’t obey.
Papa’s encouragement for me to go back to sleep was the push I needed to tuck myself in. I went back to our bedroom and left my father picking up little robot pieces from our living room floor.
When I woke up the next day, I saw two figures at the tabletop of our living room’s “lamesita.” Voltes V was there, standing proud alongside a smaller version of him. I grabbed both and showed it to my mother who was at the kitchen. I peered at the kitchen door and noticed there was no longer a truck that blocked our view of the neighbors.
About a week passed before Mama woke me up at midnight again before I smelled that mix of cigarette smoke and car air freshener again, and I saw the truck that had my name on its hood.
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Iara Paulina C. Raymundo, 20, is a communication arts student at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
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