Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Vivid Vignettes of a Vincible Childhood - 1

The Nether World of Our Silong

We used to live in a ramshackle house we had the audacity to call a chalet. Looking back, its only legitimate claim to being a chalet is a six-step stair leading to its front door, posts on its four corners, and a silong less than a meter high.

I loved-hated our silong.

We had slatted floors in parts of our house where coins, keys, and sundry small items would go through accidentally and very often. We, children, had to make a dash for under the house to retrieve whatever fell through the slats, at our elders’ say so. On rainy days, the silong would be puddled with water and mounded with mud. We were obliged to go there, when asked, and get ourselves dirty. Even when it got dark, we went there just the same, if there’s something to retrieve, with a flickering candle and a pounding heart.

But the silong was also a magical place where we let our imagination fly with games of fantasy. We pretended it was prison, and we were all counts of monte cristo. We pretended it was the pit with a pendulum where we mock-tortured each other and from which we foiled each other’s attempts to escape. It was also the place some Count Dracula might sleep and wake thirsty for plasma and the “dungeon” would reverberate with blood-curdling screams.

More placidly in summer, we would spread mats on its earthen floor, and take cool naps in the company of its denizens – lizards, spiders, beetles, snails and – who knows – maybe even little snakes?

Best of all, the silong was a place to gather the cutest little eggs you ever did see – lizard eggs about the size of oval MMs. Better than easter egg hunts, I swear! -- anyhow unheard of then. We gingerly put the fragile little thingies in tiny bamboo baskets and later boiled them in small clay pots. Some boys in the neighborhood might also help us look for the eggs but mostly they hunted for spiders which the silong likewise bred abundantly.

When we girls grew too old to play house and cook lizard eggs, the boys seemed not to weary of spider hunting. “Oh well, boys mature slower than girls” was how we excused them. Until my Ate Mila, always the feisty and smart one in the family, figured it all out. The boys were actually no longer so much interested to catch spiders as to catch a glimpse of skirts and things that skirts are supposed to hide!

Soon after my Ate’s brilliant detective work, our slatted floors gave way to wooden slabs. There was no more reason to go to the nether world of our silong.


Gina said...

I agree, lizard eggs are the cutest ;))
This post made me smile and made me feel nostalgic of my childhood days and our own 'sirong' where I used to play bahay-bahayan with my friends, and my own little clay pots.

lady cess said...

this post made me smile. made me remember all the beautiful stories i read in english lit back in high school, except that this one is real.

Auee said...

Ohh you beat me to it. I have been thinking of writing about our silong for the longest time. Lagi ko di-delete because I couldn't capture the excitement and mystery I still feel whenever I remember those times.

I will adopt your post as mine instead. You captured everything brilliantly, parang magkalaro tayo :-D

Pagkakaiba lang I never had to go our silong when it's dark!

Dondi Tiples said...

Such a great post. Reminded me of childhood summers spent wading in dirty canals gathering tadpoles and "kalog" fish.

Stat Counter