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Published by Kat Gaw

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Kat Gaw on Jan 04, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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On sunflowers and glass doors…I couldn’t decide which was more ridiculous; my sunflower hat or the factthat I had walked into a glass door I didn’t know was there because I was toobusy trying to look nice wearing it with my yellow and blue dress andsandals. I could hear my dad sniggering behind the video camera while ithappened, instead of helping the three-year-old me when I fell back onto thehard marble floor. His laugh was audible on the television speakers, and therest of us laughed with him. Embarrassing childhood videos were always funto watch—served me right for being vain, even if I
just three back then. Those were the days.My grandmother placed the cylindrical metal container on the table andcalled out to me, gesturing towards the chair in front of her, expecting me tosit. As I sat, she started fiddling with the locks and separated three metalbowls of food. A Backstreet Boys song was playing somewhere outside loudlyas I ate my lunch. I was a first grader; my grandmother was my guardian. Wewould frequently stay at a house for lunch just a few meters away from myschool at the time. My uncle was kind enough to lend his mother’s place tous for that purpose, but if that wasn’t available, I would have my lunch at theback of another uncle’s L300. I dug my spoon into the rice and took a bitewhile my grandmother stood behind me and started fixing my hair.What’s that smell?One of the ways my grandmother and I got home (my family was staying ather place at the time) was by car—my uncle’s L300, usually. Occasionallywhen he was using it for deliveries, we would take a tricycle. It was a 15-minute ride from Grace Christian to Del Monte, so it was no big trouble. Itwas just more convenient to have a relative pick you up from school. Bothmy parents were at work in the afternoons when my classes were dismissedand wouldn’t be home till 8 or 9 o’clock in the evening; making me wait fromfive onwards would have been cruel for a six-year-old with both English andChinese lessons to review for the next day. And so we found ourselveshailing a tricycle. We were no more than a turn away from home, passing byfamiliar streets populated by a number of squatters, some small houses andthe occasional sari-sari store. A woman was outside her home, armed with a
walis tingting
and what looked like a circular dustpan. She was too busyscooping out canal water to notice us. Not that I would have minded undernormal circumstances, but she wasn’t just scooping the water out—of course, all that water had to end up somewhere—she was also spilling it
across the street. For what purpose, I still don’t understand, and it wasunfortunate that we passed by her just as she let the putrid sewer watermade of who knows what spill right onto our faces and clothes, temporarilystunning us with the smell and getting us soaked. My grandmother and I aswell as the tricycle driver, who cried out as soon as the swampy mixturemade contact, were not at all amused at the scooper lady. She apologized, of course. Not that it made us any less stinky. Luckily, home was but a fewsteps away.Hello, O.B. Montessori. The first day I moved to a different school, I was nervous. Understandably so,since I was but a girl of seven years forced to enter a new school. A room fullof strange, unfamiliar faces staring back at me did not help much. I staredback, and stayed quiet while the rest of my classmates chattered on and off amongst themselves. My last school had been a Chinese one, chosenbecause of my oriental blood. There I stayed for a few good years until, forreasons I either couldn’t comprehend or wasn’t aware of, my parents haddecided to enroll me somewhere else. So there I was, donning a brand new—albeit itchy—uniform, drawing a picture about my favorite place at school fora seatwork. I drew books—obviously, that meant the library. I’ve loved booksever since I learned how to read, so that was automatic.Out with the old, in with the new.I was there for a while, standing in front of my closet and staring at my soon-to-be uniform for the upcoming school year. Aesthetically, it wasn’t at allimpressive. It consisted of a grey and white checkered blouse, grey skirt anddark blue vest, worn with black leather shoes and white socks. At best, I’dlook like a salesclerk; at worst, a walking, dull-colored tablecloth. That didn’tmatter much at the time, though. Despite its mind-numbingly lacklusterappearance, it was still a symbol, of stepping up, moving on and leavinggrade school behind. I was both excited and apprehensive. I looked at lastyear’s dark blue uniform and sighed. High school, here I come.Good-bye, Marinduque house.I had woken up to a cold room. Dazed and still considerably groggy, I lookedaround and saw my father in his lounge chair, wide awake and watching thenews. It was around 5AM at the time and I remembered that I still had to goto school. I went downstairs and saw my aunt, uncle, cousins, grandmotherand her household help. My grandmother was crying. She saw me coming
down and said through her tears, “
Wala na kaming bahay.” 
I found out thather house had burned down, just hours before. The fire came from the retailfactory next door that our relatives ran. The house and the factory wereconnected, so it had only been a matter of time before the fire had spread tothe house as well. Faulty wiring was the reason for the now charred remainsof the house, they said. Faulty wiring was the reason why our first home waslost, why we could never spend another summer there, why the one placewhere I spent my childhood and where the whole family gathered tocelebrate Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, Halloween, birthdays andeverything else now existed only in our memories.Like sister, like sister, I suppose.
Magkamukha kayo,” 
said our aunt. I forget which aunt and from which sideof the family, but it hardly mattered. We got that a lot, my sister and I.Whenever we would walk together, or whenever we would happen to be inthe same room during family gatherings, somebody would comment on howmuch we looked alike when I was around her age. Nobody had troublededucing that we were siblings, and nobody failed to remark about our facialsimilarities, despite the nine-year age gap. Each time, we would look at eachother, shrug and I’d say, “I don’t see the resemblance.”Pride and relationships don’t mix.I was pissed. One week and three days, then nothing. I had known from thestart that it wasn’t going to last very long; I had already had thoughts of abreak-up on my mind from day two—meaning, I was already thinking of whatto say when it happened—I didn’t expect much from the relationship, I’lladmit that much. But even this was below my inch-deep expectations. Itwasn’t so much the fact that I liked Ian, because I was already getting overthat part when he started ignoring me completely. As to why, I was utterlyclueless. It had to be our classmate who had to tell me that we had alreadybroken up—not that it was a big loss. I didn’t bother confronting him about it,I decided that I had better things to do.Finding out that I had been a part of a bet—on whether or not I would sayyes to him—was what stung on my part. I should’ve seen it coming, given histrack record. It was a blow to my ego more than anything else, and Iresented him and my lack of proper judgment for a good two years. It wasbecause of that incident that I swore off boys for the rest of high school—notthat my bitterness lasted that long, but I wanted to stick to my word anyway.Stupid boys.

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