Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cherries on Slingshots

There were days when I wish I have the power to turn back time, right to when I'm still a child…but don’t we all? My childhood wasn’t that exceptional—I was sickly, and the larger portion of it I spent indoors, resting fever away or assembling glow-in-the-dark dinosaur skeletons and Peter Pan jigsaw puzzles. But a kid’s still a kid; when I feel okay, I’d scramble downstairs and find other kids to play with.

I’d never been in a clique of little girls. I had this illogical illusion that only pretty girls with long hair and sweet smiles would be able to complete a whole ten-twenty/Chinese Garter round, and me with an unfashionably bobbed hair, skinned knees, and gap-toothed grin was just not qualified. I was never able to figure out where the thought came from, but I remembered that “rule” stamped in my head. So I sought the company of little boys, and we’d collect pogs and postcards, let our “pet spiders” wrestle on a stick, and play all the stupid games with our rubber slippers (during such games I’d go home with hands red from hitting, but I was happy).

But there was this set of moments in my head that I really missed, especially when I would accidentally sweep my eyes past the wooden blinds of my room into the bright afternoon outside…

I remembered that I was about seven then. In broad daylight, me and my cousins Nikko and Kevin would ran up to their house and sneak past the large window in one of its rooms, the one that led to the lower roofs of our neighbors. With a stealthy carefulness of a bunch of thieves, we would tiptoe on the hot sheets of ‘wavy’ metal, giggling to ourselves about our secret mission. We would stop walking when we’re about a meter from the ledge, where a branch of a nearby tree was curled like a skinny arm of a mother holding a phantom baby. That was where our treasured prizes hang: Jamaican cherries, or in Tagalog, aratilis.

Jamaican Cherries (source)

Usually we would bring plastic cups to serve as our containers. We would yank at the fruits—red or green, ripe or not, we didn’t care—and then we’d hurl them at the cups. After picking, we would slump on our haunches (on the roof, yes) and proceed on munching on the red ones, sometimes while attempting to spot the highest kites in the sky, sometimes while talking about the feasibility of Jamaican cherry trees growing on wet cottons (our science experiment led us to those types of discussion—one of our assignments was to record the daily growth of mongo seeds on wet cottons). 

A glimpse through the blinds now: there’s no Jamaican cherry tree anymore, and the roofs were all encrusted with rust. The tree used to shade the red roof of that little house.

When all the red fruits were gone, we would pick up the green hard ones and arrange them on our make-shift slingshots. That was the fun part. We would go crazy for some minutes, throwing green bullets everywhere, like we were some kind of a trio of “Green Peas” goons hurling deadly little fruits at invisible enemies. We wouldn’t be able to eat them anyway, and it seemed a little waste to just dump them in the bin.The fun would only stop when our grandmother would scream for us to get off the roof, or when somebody from the ground—the owner of the tree, usually—would shoo us away with glares and (obviously) held-in curses.

Sometimes we would try to escape, dashing noisily across the field of slightly rusted roofs of the other houses until we reach the “other end,” where our safe haven was waiting for us: our house’s wooden balcony. Sometimes, we would just give in with guilty faces, promising to never do it again…a thing that never happened.

That is, until we became too old for such games. My health worsened a bit as I grew up, and reading books inside the house became my regular hobby Nikko would sometimes hand me a fistful of cherries through the window, but I realized that eating them inside the bedroom wasn’t as enjoyable as actually picking them from the tree. Or throwing them at random directions, for that matter.

Whenever I remember these moments, I can just sit back and imagine myself being my seven-year-old self again. Of course there’s always a kid in our hearts, one that never leaves, but once you’ve been burdened by the responsibilities of being an adult, you could never recapture the exact carefreeness of being a true child.

I’m just nostalgic, that’s all. Most people still refer to me as a ‘kid,’ perhaps because of my height and the baby fat my body refuses to shed. As an adult I’m not fully accomplished yet…and giving up would never be on my lexicon, I promise myself that.

So now, it’s not cherries I’m slinging in every direction, but chances at a better tomorrow. Who knows what those will hit? Coupled with faith in Him, there’s nothing to worry about. There would always be something for everyone, and God only give these somethings in the right time. I’m no Peter Pan and I’m continuing to grow up. But if ever there’s a chance for me to feel that childlike happiness again, I think that’s if I finally get so grab one of the stars in my dreams. :)

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