No longer innocent
Innocence is a gift that is both good and bad. When it comes to a child, however, it becomes an instrument that piques their interest and curiosity to further explore this conundrum we call life.
As a child, I was one of the quiet ones. I did not belong to a large circle of friends, unlike my brother who is the definition of a social magnet. He tried introducing me to his friends but I knew I didn’t belong. I never belonged.
Maybe it was because of the way I act, speak, and move; I did not bother finding out why, and whenever I heard their secretive snickers, I always assumed that they were laughing because of, or with, me.
I was always more attached to my sister, we were partners in crime and we always covered for each other. I remember playing with her toys, brushing her hair, and watching chick flicks together while reciting the dialogues. Maybe my attachment to my sister is the reason why most of my friends were girls, but I did not bother finding out why. I was happy.
Back then, I did not have the luxury of owning a personal computer so I remember going to those packed, sometimes dirty, internet cafés. I can still hear the curses and insults that people made to each other, but I did not mind. I can still smell the stench of the worn-out headphones and feel the stickiness of the computer mouse and keyboard, but I did not mind.
I just wanted to have fun like the rest of them. I used to be an avid player of dress-up and dollhouse games on websites like Y8 or Friv, unlike other people in the café who played brutal killing and shooting games. I watched reruns of “My Little Pony,” unlike the other boys who watched flip-top or rap videos of famous people. I felt I had my own orbit in the internet café. Still, I would hear the snickers, sometimes loud laughter, aimed in my direction, and I couldn’t help but mind. I felt odd — like I was peculiar in their eyes.
Little did I know that those people — my brother’s friends and the people at the internet café — were laughing at me, not with me, or because of me. I felt humiliated; I felt different. That triggered the spiral that my mind has come to — unaware of how to act, how to speak, even how to feel. I became aware of my innocence, of how unaware I was, about the world I thought I knew. The happiness I once felt had vanished; the ecstasy has gone. I hid and suppressed my wings, afraid that people will notice. I felt like my whole identity was a lie, something abnormal, and my brother did not hold back in making me feel like an embarrassment. I had no one to turn to, not even my sister because I was scared that they will not understand. So I traversed the unfamiliar path alone.
High school was not any different. However, slowly, I began letting my wings show even though I could barely fly. I felt the cold stares of disapproval, curiosity, and sometimes even pride. This is when I found other people like me—people who share the same feelings, the same thoughts, and the same experiences that I once had. I belonged, something I never felt even once. We all took turns helping each other fly, one flap at a time.
Now that I have graduated from senior high school and am about to set off on a new journey that I am not familiar with, things have definitely changed. I can now fly outdoors, although the roof of my home prevents me from doing so. The innocent child who once played with his sister’s Barbie dolls is still there, waiting for the right time to attempt flying in front of his family. But he is also now a proud man. I am a proud man, and I want to help other people who are struggling with their flight, to let them know that I was once also flightless.
Sometimes, I wish to be an innocent little kid, ignorant as can be. I wish that time will turn and let me go back to the moments of my life when the world did not matter. Where I have my own world. But I now know better. Because as much as innocence is, indeed, the ingredient of ecstasy, it has its repercussions because it is also an anchor that will never let you out of the water until you drown in the sea of ignorance.
I am aware of my unawareness, be it about myself, society, or the world, and I would gladly let my curiosity get ahead of me because then, there will be no weight holding me back to discover more.
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Neil Andrew T. Tallayo, 18, is a freshman at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and aspires to be a journalist.
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