Friday, June 19, 2009

A Poor Boy's Memoir: Dimension I

gallon container, a poor boy's memoir, life strugglePardon me If I cannot tell the story perfectly as I only finished Grade 4 of Elementary School in Philippines. But I want to tell my story. --- I was born as the second child of my parents. I am the eldest son though. We are six in all: I have two brothers and three sisters. Maybe you are thinking why my parents did not have family planning tactics. You are right in a way but not correct in another. After my sister who's next to me was born, my mother had the tubal ligation schedule at our local hospital but that very scheduled day, a typhoon hit the Philippines until she could not get another schedule so soon. In short, she get pregnant again for our 4th sibling. He's a boy too.

My childhood was not bad, I can say. My sister, the oldest in the family, she was very responsible as a child, while our younger siblings, we both played with them and we helped a lot in the house chores. We used to fetch water from a very far place, maybe around 3 kilometers away from our house. You can imagine us: I, with my one gallon of water as I move it from my right hand to my left from time to time to ease the pain of the gallon container weight, while my sister, she has each in her hand. When she's tired, or can't bear the weight for quite some time, she puts those two gallon containers to the ground and we both take some minutes of rest.

fetching water, water fetching, difficult water supply -- I remember my childhood when I saw that image in the right... that child is carrying a heavier container than what we used to do though... --

Since we are talking about those gallon containers, I tell you that we really considered ourselves to be lucky if we could find those containers to have lid. Because if not, we expect a lot of wasted along the way, maybe 20% of what we initially took from the water well. I can remember that we used to do this water fetching the moment I could walk. Water supply in my town, and many other towns in the Philippines, is such a bitch, you know.

Those gallon containers were a remarkable part of my life. Maybe because I spend almost all my childhood for that: fetching water. When our third sister started to walk, she joined the team of water fetcher for the family. Thus, we always went in teams of three with those gallon containers in our hand. That time however, Sister 2 is the one who's carrying a single gallon container as she was the smallest in the team. Sister 1 and I were both having two gallons containing water in each hand.

The fun of doing this thing was, we do it after school in the afternoon. We arrived at home at around 5:30 after running back home from the elemntary scholl that's around 5 kilometers away from home. The moment we rested our school bags and umbrellas inside the house, we would go right away to the kitchen to take those empty gallons, get them ready, and then we would change our school uniforms to house clothes. After, off we go to the water well a few kilometers away.

Since no hurry is needed when we did those tasks, sometime we played along the way. We were only afraid of the darkness which starts to hit the country at around 6 or 6:30 sometimes or maybe in a very limited number of times at 7 pm. But how could we know anyway? Wrist watches were things of luxury for us so we have none. We relied on our guts and eyes to see if darkness was coming. Thus, when the sun was still up and light was still visible, sometimes we go inside the mini-jungle along the way and climb some fruit tress and eat them. I remember those fruit trees: santol from May to June and guava for various months of the year and pomelo on a few ocassions. There were so many coconuts but it needs a cutting material to be eaten so we have not eaten any fresh cocos along the way that time. We also used to eat sugar canes but those were from sugar cane plantations and not from mini-jungles like the other fruits I mentioned. That's the fun of it! Climbing trees and eating and stealing a few sugar canes.

Despite the fact that we, my two sisters and I, worked more than play, we tried to make good of those moments and enjoy the best way we could. We only played during recess time at school from 9-9:30 in the morning and lunch break, when the sun was not so strong.

The water fetching with gallon containers is only one dimension of my life. You will know me little by little. I find my life interesting, sad, happy and a mix of everything. I will tell you another dimension soon.