For about an hour now I have been staring at this little boy. He is cladded in a deep blue dungaree with a cherry red shirt. One of the straps seems to have come off but that catches less attention when you notice he has only one sandal on. The other, in the wide pocket in front of his denim dungaree for reasons best known to him. His hair is a grainy mess. One that his dad would call “pojo”(that’s green grams you literates). And on his right hand he clutches a bright red pinpop with its wrap intentionally half way done away with. Quite the young economist when you realize he does this so as by the time he’s licked off the one side clean he technically still has a “brand new” side. And later he would come back to it in the dead of night and like a thief, be able to steal his little heaven of banned satisfaction. Explains most stains in his bed sheet but that’s his little not so much of a secret for he got whipped a couple of times. His clothes being a bit soiled would probably be an understatement but I would have to say it highlighted his pearl white smile and bright eyes even more. And as he leans in with one arm against the wall with his legs also crossed in a young Casanova pose, not sure where he picked that from, you couldn’t mistake the excitement in the young “boss”. “Wewe…. sitakuita Tena!!” Ahhh…. Mothers.
The young lad goes rushing and it leaves me in my thoughts. We don’t know each other but I’ve been watching this young gentleman for quite a while now. How he sneaked off to school even before he started kindergarten. Of course not for the “Keys to success” but for Madam Halima’s treats that were given at exactly 3:10 PM. Just before the children broke wildly to the streets in an expected sugar rush. This evidently would be his first lessons where he learnt to tell time to the minute before he could even read it! I also reminiscence how a year later he actually got admitted to kindergarten but threw a dozen fits every lunch break. He consequently would be the only child to go home at noon in a class of forty! Because for some reason it didn’t settle with him why he wouldn’t be allowed to go sleep at home, ON A BED, if that’s literally the only thing they did after lunch, ON A MAT! And moreover, with NO TREATS after!! This would in time gather such a cult that would have Mr. Danson, a member of the board of management and one of the directors of the school, personally take him home on his 1995 bright yellow Yamaha Beluga scooter. And no…. Not an expulsion but rather as an uncomfortably frequent, probably expensive but definitely bothered, one-off private chauffeur. For it was either him or the entire class! But it’s always easier to rid the market of the mad man instead isn’t it?? And this young lad was purely gifted!
But even a mad man wouldn’t describe the folly of this reversed genius who would feign sickness not only not to attend school but also not even twitch about being taken to the hospital. In fact, he would advocate for it ferociously because why settle for a few more hours at home watching Fat Dog Mendoza in Kidsco when you can get a five star treatment in the hospital cafeteria at the Kids park. If this young itch was going to miss school, then he would rather make it count for the next coming months. His doctor, Mrs. Abuto, was a middle aged woman who was as gracious as she was lovely. My guess would be she knew what was going on or more explicitly what wasn’t but would conduct a general checkup for the more than cheeky lad that would always be thrilled to meet her. Also because of the treats she would have at her desk of course. A sweet tooth he was. And for someone who had already lost all his four incisors that had left a whistling gape up front like a huge radiator grill, he was really living on the edge like the risk taker or mad man he was. I personally think there exists no man who ran quite a mileage on his milk teeth as this juvenile.
And I saw him getting into his first fight and get pinned like a rugged doll, goes home and his mom just fixates a rubber slipper on the minor like some stamp of approval. The young lad would not dare fight for another decade or so until when he went high school but that’s not a part of his story that he’s supposed to know right now. There’s a lot I could tell him over the two decades I’ve watched over him. How I’m proud of how he got to learn to cycle without training wheels on a mountain bike twice his size. And he would have to carry a pillow from home and set it on the steel frame he would sit on for safety purposes of course. All illegal of course, that’s why he did it on the other side of the estate. His first fall from that elevated “pedestal” on wheels. His first soccer ball that was kicked out of the estate and into the nearby school… with CHILDREN!!! His first interview into a school that he had no idea was an interview because as far as he was concerned, any paper he finished would guarantee a visit to the school’s dining hall that he knew the chef’s before the teachers. And for a brief moment as I stare into this picture of me in the dungarees from the dusty photo album I just dug up when decluttering the bookshelf, I wonder what advice I would leave him with as I flip the page to other cringe versions of myself. “Hey Google, play Photograph by Ed Sheeran”
We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
And time’s forever frozen, still
So you can keep me
Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans
Holding me closer ’til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone
So I sat there lost in the moment between these old reminiscences and this awfully “emoshonolll” song and I could not help but admit that this was probably a self-inflicted wound. For how else was a man to react looking at his aged photos and listening to a song with lyrics like…..
And if you hurt me
That’s okay, baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages, you just hold me
And you know what?? He was absolutely right. So I whip out my knife and skin and bled the only way I’ve always known to….
“Dear Younger Me….”