Sunday, August 26, 2012

Literary Bedrock

Just before bedtime, I would ask my mom to read me a book. The story and the characters play no importance. As long as the narrative can take me to another realm and another time, any children's literature would do.

With my head resting on her thin legs, and with my droopy eyes half-closed, mom would summon fairies and dwarves, and even mystical herons to send me off to dreamland. She would begin her tale with "once upon a time" with conflicts that sometimes don't end with "happily ever after." 

Like the Steadfast Tin Soldier in Hans Andersen's fairy tale, stories with resolute partings stay remembered for life. One may call this a trauma; a rude and unsaid introduction to real life. But these premature awakenings only endeared me to the protagonist of the story.

The nightly habit would go on, until I was told I'm too old for fairy tales and that, I should start reading books on my own. It is in this crossroad that I learned how I was betrayed by fiction, so instead of reading short stories, I began stuffing my mind with easily digestible facts that are readily available at the school library.

And read I did. 

I remember the days I would find myself lodged between the pastel-colored bookshelves, turning a page or two to learn about the dinosaurs. Sometimes I would skip lunch (or make haste gobbling my home-made baon) so I could squeeze more time during noon breaks tracing with my small fingers the maze of streets criss-crossing a choked metropolis.

I recall those late afternoons, where instead of getting inside the school bus to go home, I would entrench myself in the same library. There, I would make acquaintance with the Philippines' midnight creatures and tribal folktales before heading off to a hidden park at the back of the campus. Since I was into gardening, I would consider it a lucky day when I spot the shelf where the school librarian kept the only copy of the ornamental plants catalog. With its rich pictures and vivid descriptions, the plants I pulled out with its roots intact - to plant them on a pot at home would finally get its name. 

It is only when I took a short leap to high school, in a different place of learning that I stopped having daily trips to the library. The inadequacy of its book shelves and the ambivalence of its librarian forced me to seek other pursuits. Years would go by. I would give up my solitary escapades for other distractions. I would find joys watching anime, playing video games, listening to alternative music, and letting my image-altering pretentiousness mask my low self-esteem. 

Together with friends, I would hang out at the biggest shopping mall in the city, do road trips at the break of dawn, and proclaim my female crushes only to get my heart broken. I have lived a life many teenagers did, and in all the rare chances I could tell someone how books shaped the way I perceive life, only a soft whisper would come out of my reluctant mouth. 

The official line would always remain, "I seldom read books."

Deliberate maybe the revisionist mouthpiece, but the truth has its way of catching up. It resurfaces from time to time. Unperturbed. No matter how often I fail to make the cut when the school papers call for the submission of articles.

Robbed of recognition, words would quietly assert themselves when I passionately write test essays on history, or in the poems I have written to leave a footprint in the university. I may laugh at the disfigured sentences and nauseating allusions when I read aloud the poems today. But at a hindsight, the rudimentary compositions would grow into prose, which I now weave every time I blog.

And the geek side of me awakens



♔ıǝɹɯɐı♔ said...

Hohoho. Reminds me of the time I wrote for our high school organ. Mabasa nga yung mga yun.

MEcoy said...

I wish i have the love for reading

ZaiZai said...

Those are nice and comforting memories! I love books like these, trivial and filled with pictures, just like the books I read when I was a kid :)

Oscar Wilde said...

When I was around 7 or 8 I read books about paintings. From the Masters of the Renaissance up to Pop Art. I could remember around that age I can basically recite the lives of Picasso, Van Gogh, and so on in front of someone just like story telling. I guess when MTV took over (the one with VJs and pure music videos only) and Japan had my interest in the subject sort of waned.

Mugen said...


Same story. When TV and Cable took over, my interests in books had waned.


Iniisip ko, will the kids of our time still read books. Kung tayo nga pahirapan na, sila pa kaya?


Your dedication to reading our blogs is a testament to your love for words. :)