My sister, brother, and I were inside a cab on our way to the Rabbit bus terminal on Taft Avenue to send off our sister when the subject about having a complete childhood got mentioned.
Conversations about our childhood do not fail to make us laugh because we get to be reminded of something forever lost but not totally forgotten. These memories remind us that no matter how fast we grow old each day (my sister just turned 26 but this, according to her does not bother her because she feels likes she’s only 22) and our responsibilities getting more insurmountable by the day, there is certainly no reason for us to feel short-changed because we had years of childhood behind us that were well-spent.
When we were younger we quarreled, physically abused each other, almost got each other killed in fits of uncontrolled childish anger. We of course but know deep inside that we share nothing but mutual filial love. We fought each other to a proportion that can only be described as epic just because of a piece of pandesal our mother usually brought from work. We created alliances — me and my older sister against the rest, my brothers against our older sister, my other brother against both my sister and my brother after me — that can have as many permutations as mathematically possible.
We laughed at the mischief we did together: playing hide-and-seek around the house, turning the house upside down to spite our poor house help whom we suspected to be flirting with our houseboy, stealing pineapples from the nearby Dole plantation, sucking santan flowers thinking that the sweet discharge is a kind of milk, going up the rooftop to see the rest of our village, playing with the refrigerator by keeping it open to know if it works like an air-conditioner, and fighting for control of the TV remote control.
While inside the taxi, the cramped car reminded us of our water cart. In our village, before each household got its own running water, we had to push a wooden cart that contained a big rubber vat we call ‘tadyaw’ that contained water we fetch from the public water source to our house. We took turns pushing and pulling this mammoth cart that carried our humongous rubber tub.
This wooden cart eventually got destroyed because of us. One day, the five of us decided to do something we’ve been wanting to do but never got the courage to do because of our parents’ stern discouragement: “This cart is the only way we can get water. Do not play with it”. With their absence, our audacity, call it recalcitrance, got fired up. So we brought our helpless wooden cart to the highest point of our yard and with the help of gravity, rode on it down like it was our version of a roller coaster. The rougher was the way down, the stronger was our shouts and the more we became addicted to the bump and twists.
Of course it broke down. As punishment, we were made to kneel on rock salt our mother had spread on the cold concrete floor. We did not question her mode of punishment; we thought it was reasonable a punishment for a sin as grand as destroying our only water cart.
But not having water for more than a week proved to be more challenging.