|(L-R: Flags of the Powerful Nations - See USSR, Educational Toys, Clay Diorama)|
To this day, I still have her name. Miss Lolita Ramos. The plumpy lady with small chinky eyes, and reserved smile used to be my pre-school teacher some twenty-five years ago.
It is all I have left. For despite my attempts to sift through the most cherished of memories, I was too young to remember, and only the postcard images of kindergarten stays in my head.
Kindergarten, of course, was a different time. A cherished moment when nuns taking up residence in secluded rooms a floor above our classrooms open their pantry and serve us macaroni soup. In those days, playtime occupies the rest of the afternoon. The other kids bring their flashy toys to class, while I was left envious because I had nothing to show.
My mom won't let me bring my action figures. She said, the other kids might just break them.
Fridays, I recall, were spent in swings and see-saws at the playground. The playground was at the grounds next to the school house, and to this day, I get to see the play area when I pass along E. Rodriguez Avenue. The street where St. Joseph's College is located. If my guardian wishes to look for me, she would spot me at the slide, or the at the sandbox. Those were the only places where heights (and the fear of falling) never cross my thoughts. Sometimes, I'd pick up the spindle leaves of pine trees thinking they were dead worms. As to what I did after, I have no idea.
All I know is that many, many years later, my thumb can bring dying plants to life.
Four hours into a school day and the time to go home approaches. The teacher would then ask everyone to return the plastic beads and wooden boxes to their rightful cabinets. When these have been done, the imitation fruits and vegetables go into their boxes. The kids - including me - then walk out of the classroom and form a line. With the teacher herding the young tykes at the column, she ushers us back to the school gate, where our attendants are waiting.
There are days when I would leave the queue and sneak into the college building. My mom used to hold Sociology classes there, and to show the big star stamped on my hand, I would barge into her class disrupting her lecture.
These flashbacks trickle in while waiting for Lenin' two-hour summer class to finish. His brother Diego recovers at the hospital, with his parents by his side. And since there's no one to accompany my older nephew at the nursery, I volunteered to look after him as he gets to experience attending school for the first time in his life.