There are mind games and mind games. And there is mind stretching – going as far back in the past as one can remember, for bits and pieces to laugh about, for some old trauma that can be connected with present difficulty.
First memories -- you can call them.
My own mind-stretching exercise yielded little first memories to laugh about or get sentimental over, but heck, they were vivid enough to share.
At two, I was burning with fever, my eyes and nose running, shrieking, struggling to get out from my newly-arrived Dad’s arms back to my mom’s. As he released me, his concern for his sick daughter turned into anger, and his sulking made the silly girl cry louder.
At four, I was waiting eagerly for my Dad to come home. He had promised me my favorite Horlicks as a birthday treat. That night, I couldn’t sleep thinking of the bottle I didn't receive -- as the confection used to be packed in bottles, like medicine tablets – and wondering “… maybe next year?”
At six, and in grade 1, I was walking with my Ate Mila, grade 6, to school, clinging to her hand as usual. She pulls her hand away and I grab it right back. More pulling and grabbing until at last I whimpered “sumbong kita, che,” and she let her hand stay but not before it whacked me one.
At almost seven, I was called to the principal’s office where I joined five or six other pupils. A teacher said aloud: “O sige, mga iha. Suppose a visitor comes and looks for Mrs. Fabros, our principal, who is away, what will you tell the visitor?” All the other youngsters fell silent when they were pointed at to speak. When my turn came, I managed to mumble in my boses ipis: “Mrs. Fabros is not here.” "Ay, ito na, ito na," the teacher exclaimed and I wondered what it meant. A month after, I received onstage a book with the inscription: “most intelligent pupil, grade 1.”
At seven, and in grade two, I fretted as I waited for my mom to pick me up at our usual hintayan somewhere between school and home. At that time, I was allowed to walk by myself from school, but only up to where we had to cross big bad busy Juan Luna Street. After an hour of waiting, I got ready to cry; but what the heck, I looked to the left, looked to the right, half ran across, and reached home uneventfully. My mom was unrepentant when she met me: she never since had to fetch me again.
I laugh now at the silly little girl that was me even as I sense her immutably still in me. At this venerable old age, I am still a bit silly and shy and clingy, though I have learned the art of pretending I am smart and poised and cool.
What about you -- what are your first memories? Do the bad ones outnumber the happier ones, as they did in my case?
(Inspired by the boyhood recollections of Uncle Pung , sweetly-cutely-funnily written, in his maiden blog piece, “Unang Baitang, Grade 1.”