My most vivid childhood memory is the time when I would get the sharp gulok from the corner of the garage and start removing the tall cogon grass growing at the back of our house. I would do that in the afternoon, when the sun is low. I will go home dirty, with lots of scratches because of sharp leaves.
That simple task gave me enormous satisfaction, seeing the grasses fall one by one. The small patch of earth made visible by the fallen cogon grew bigger and bigger, until I cleared the whole area. It took me a week to cut down all cogon grass.
I was seven years old then; life was simple when you’re seven. No problems. No illusions of grandeur. No pressure. Only innocence. Honesty. Life revolves around play, scratched elbows, broken bones, raucous friends, frantic study, and daylong television. Dirty ice cream, sago-gulaman, and fishballs were daily fare in the afternoons.
But as we grow older, we are bombarded with “grown up” stuff: stressful work, dirty politics, broken dreams, the world’s complexities and complications. The childhood memories are replaced with heartaches, disappointments, frustrations, pains of rejection, defeat. We lose sight of the ideal when we become realists. We tend to look at the world as grown-ups do: hopeless, Godless, without a bright future.
I was lost in this musings the past few days, with anxiety over the future. Losing a job to which every aspect in your life depends on is no simple worry. The future has never been as murkier and as clouded as the past month.
Every afternoon I contemplate this painful truth, I sit on the grass within the outskirts of the Sunken Garden, watching people do their thing: couples whiling away time lost in their own universe, students playing touchrugby, football, ultimate Frisbee, or simply walking and sitting there like me. Feeling the moist grass bristling by my hands, I remember that smell of the wet cogon grass, the wet pungent when its stem is chopped by my sharp gulok.
It’s back being seven again.
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