The littlest things imprinted in our minds serve as our sources of poignant nostalgia.
These memories may bring a twitch of smile or even guilt on my face. For example, I remember one sun-drenched day at the age of four when I built stunted castles out of a pile of multicolored Legos in our garden, and at the same age I was rummaging inside a drawer for some flavored drink. I also see myself on another memory, at the age of five, that I was all wet from tears, sweat, and melting chocolate ice cream in my cousin’s house. I think there was a time too wherein all of my brothers and sisters stared in awestruck wonder at me, backed with my father, after I threw a rock at the face of my beloved mother and cut open her upper left eyebrow, blood flowing towards her chin. The transition from an innocent four year old to a five year old monster is appalling. That event is indelible within me, but sources and some fragments of this memory are hazy to act as true. Yet, I still tremble at what I did.
But there is one particular scene, though undeniably childish to the very core, I think I can graphically recount very effectively.
The tarmac is buzzing with noise coming from this gargantuan metal-bird. It is the usual airplane. Philippine Airlines and Asia Pacific are the most frequent visitors in our city’s port. A city airport that is just a stone’s throw away from our school. The plane motors’ deafening noise in the airport become our early morning anthem after the nationalistic song of praise.
It is always like that. Every day we are silent whenever the plane finally takes off the runway. Well, so much for that. The point of the transportation’s mentioning is that it is a kind of alarm when we, Grade 1 students, go out of the classroom and run as fast as we can for the playground. When the plane goes away: it is Recess Time!
The monkey bars, swings, slide, and seesaws—these are our great objects of fascination. Freshly released from our kindergarten years, stuck inside a colorful cell of crayons, posters, cards, large block of chairs and sweet-sounding school teachers, the urgency of finally meeting the Outside Grounds in full 25-minutes without any nagging yaya spell freedom for us. We are ecstatic birds flying towards the greater heights of the skies. But the difference is that we keep on running, not flying (but if provided with wings, we may as well fly). And on that momentous day, meeting once again my kinder-friends along with some new children, we have decided playing the game Tag. It is every little boy’s game.
“One, two three… run!”
That is how we do it. The child who is unfortunately chosen, through a silly series of chanting, as the one and only “It,” will have to give us three seconds to run before he could chase us. But the unsuspecting me doesn’t notice my shoelaces untied! My, you could only imagine how I step on one of the two black strings—and in full rush of adrenaline to run—fall flat on all fours instead. I am caught.
I am now the It.
How I just hate it to become the It; you being the chaser and your sniggering classmates as the fast-running chasees! But hey, there is a bit of satisfaction when I become an It: I am a fast runner, too. And I can attest to this that when the original It tags me, the children involve get into a frenzy.
“Argh! Si Jordan!”
“Tago nalang tah—”
“Tago nalang tah—”
I am the proudest chaser. The proudest It. The accident caused by untied shoelaces doesn’t dampen my spirits and aim of catching one first grader. Call me a savage, but I am determined.
I should present a roar to add sheer effect of power, but what comes out is a sharp wail of a six year old Grace Christian School student. And there’s this one chubby little boy who I really love to catch and laugh at in a hysterical fashion. His name is Bruce. And being one of the amply-sized characters in the game, he becomes my first target.
Around the playground, inside the canteen, at the multi-purpose gymnasium, inside classrooms, and even on lawns where signs of “Keep off the Grass” on thin plywood are staked, the possibilities of where to run to are endless. All these places I am greatly at ease and familiar with. Chasing Bruce anywhere has never been this fun and exciting. Until—
Crash. The sudden contact of exposed skin and rough stones make white spots on my eyes, blinding and paralyzing me for a few seconds as pain continue to sting my whole body. I drop and roll like a ball.
It happens this way: I am in a gleeful state when I am about to catch Bruce who is inches away from me. Unexpectedly, he turns left from our school’s main office, like a professional, which then leaves me catching only air. Unable to stop, no matter how mightily I try steering to the left, my feet fail me when I step on this pile of gravel by the bend of the office.
And from that ferocious velocity I acquire from determined running, that accident is inevitable. A few days after that comical episode, I get reddish-purple spots strategically scattered on my body which I amusedly discover that they rhyme with the name of the child I was chasing. Bruise.
Again, I say I am the proudest chaser. The proudest It. Though untied shoelaces and gravel topple me when I am on the go, these don’t dampen my spirits and aim of catching one first grader. Call me a savage but I am only a child.
I get up brushing gray dust off my shirt and pants. And upon seeing Bruce with a hint of smile on his face, I laugh and he laughs. He runs and I follow. He runs fast and I continue to run much faster.