Tuesday, September 04, 2007

guava tree

You won’t find me sitting on a tree branch and drinking in the breeze, soft against my skin. Those days are long past. Too far removed from what I have become. Like the last time I climbed down the guava tree in our backyard, never to climb it up again, not so much because I outgrew the tree as because the tree grew weary of my presence. You know too much for your own good, it said. Innocence is the prerequisite of childhood fantasy. And I was losing that, inch by inch. Was it not the point of education? To erode innocence and replace it with doubt? Or did I equate innocence with ignorance and antagonized the two?

To put me to sleep, my grandmother used to sing an ancient folk tune that spoke of a huge moon and a woman yearning for her lover, while I thought about my playmates who were out in the sun, playing backyard football. My grandmother noticed that I wasn’t in the mood for a siesta. With a slap on my behind, she sent me off, murmuring some cusswords which I had yet to learn and enunciate properly. I felt guilty then. I wasted her time and her saliva. It was not easy to sing songs like that. And it was easy to feel guilty back then, when days were long and afternoons lazed around shamelessly.

It was so much fun to be a kid again and be capable of just one emotion at a time. Cry when you’re pissed. Jump when you’re happy. Hit the idiot next door when you’re mad. But everything is ambiguous now. Nothing is classifiable. No definitive answer to anything. Which is what I have always wanted, really. When my diffidence as a child was replaced by assertiveness as an adult, something slipped away so stealthily I hardly noticed it. Or had it been there in the first place? Much of the boy still lingered within, perhaps nursed by my artistic proclivities. It only came out when I felt like climbing the guava tree again, which had long been cut. On its site yawns an ugly hole on the ground which should have been the foundation of a new house my family wanted to construct there.

If I were a poet, I would’ve waxed poetic about all these and romanticized even the guavas that dangled in that tree. But I am not. And there is not much to sugar coat anyway. Childhood memories are intrinsically sweet, until reality grows like an incurable pimple and nothing is the same again. Beliefs get flushed down the toilet, emotions become more complex, songs no longer speak about a huge moon and a yearning woman but of an evil sun that whips the ground until it breaks and gushes forth black mud, thick and ugly like a child’s rhyme swelling epical with a convoluted plot and twisted characters, each desiring to bring down the other in a mad rush to get to the top and to feel some semblance of an emotion, like that feeling that one gets while one sits on a tree branch, feet dangling, face upturned—drinking the breeze that is soft against one’s young skin. But that tree exists only in one's memory.



At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...the point of education?"

- to make a citizen out of you, as per My Chemical Romance's song.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger aryo said...

"If I were a poet, I would’ve waxed poetic about all these and romanticized even the guavas that dangled in that tree. But I am not."

Yeah, right. As if poetry does not naturally gush out of your pen. Grabe, ang galing talaga magsulat.

Btw, thanks. I have long been trying to put into into words a certain thought and you just supplied it - "to erode innocence and replace it with doubt". I couldn't have said it better.

At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yung yaya ko noon may madalas kantahin habang nagsusuklay at nagpapatuyo ng buhok sa gabi "o maliwanag na buwan...nakikiusap ako...ang aking minamahal...sana ay hanapin mo..."

i never did pay attention to her stories, much less her songs...but looking back, i think it's kinda sad.


"to erode innocence and replace it with doubt" -- erode. meaning to slowly deteriorate...to destroy by degrees. at least your innocence eroded bit by bit. i seem to have lost mine in an instant. it took one person for this to happen. only one person. the last one to know me unafraid.

no. it's not what you think. LOL

just a stranger passing by,

At 4:44 AM, Blogger joyfulchicken said...

Yay for cynicism >:)

At 6:50 PM, Blogger slim whale said...

jeff reiji -- sounds like some propaganda from the military. :)

aryo -- now i'm blushing. (blush, blush blush). hey, thanks. but honestly, i find it hard to write poetry. i'm a prose person. as to innocence, sometimes i look back and can't help but feel that the world seemed perfect then. oh well...

c. (anonymous)-- i make it a point to listen to people's songs these days. there's much to learn from them...it's ok too if you lost your innocence like how i imagine it, LOL. kidding aside, we all have these realizations, i guess. or "epiphany" if you will. thanks for dropping by.

joyfulchicken -- cynicism has been my life ever since. :)

At 2:01 AM, Blogger Jap said...

I think you can lose your innocence but still be carefree.

When was the last time you played in the rain? =)

At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha! i wish. hahaha.


At 12:36 PM, Blogger _davenport_ said...

thanks sa pagdaan pala..fave na puno ko alateres..he he


looking back.. now you made me agree to myself that innocence and timelessness are virtues exclusive only to children... whatever virtue is

At 6:43 AM, Anonymous patrick said...

as adults, we have become so adept at pretending and effrontery. we're also capable of drinking massive quantities of alcohol which would enable us to be kids again. so it couldn't be that bad.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger ie said...

i admire how you manage to be so honest and eloquent at the same time. only a few are courageous and articulate enough to do that.

by the way, we also had a guava tree in our backyard. i totally related to this post. :)

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous bingskee said...

oh, the days of innocence... we can only reminisce.

in a way, ignorance and innocence are equivocal. take for example, one can say one is ignorant about sex, which means uninformed or uneducated about sex, or one is innocent about sex, which means one lacks understanding about sex. pretty much similar but different. but am sure you know this already. this is just saying, i am really sleepy and i have not time to sleep! :-D

At 3:52 PM, Anonymous major tom said...

Oo nga no...As we grow older, climbing trees is not such a good idea anymore whence as a child, I did adored it so mightily...

At 10:02 AM, Blogger {illyria} said...

i love how you were allowed to hit idiots. :) nostalgia suits you, my dear.

At 8:02 PM, Blogger slim whale said...

jap -- er, i never played in the rain. but i get your point. i still am carefree, in so many ways.

c. (anonymous) -- i wish that, too

davenport -- and how i wish i were a child again, eating alateres freshly picked from the tree.

patrick -- oh yes, alcohol! it's the best potion that brings us several years back.

ie -- not as eloquent as you are, ie!

bingskee -- yup, i know the difference between the two. as to sex, well, i'd rather not be ignorant nor innocent with regards to it. ehhe.

major tom -- yeah, and we used to spend so many hours on top of it, just counting the birds...

iillyria -- i wasn't. i just did it. yup, i love nostalgia. sometimes i think that's the only thing i have

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Ang Lolo Niyo said...

What a touching post!

I've never climb a tree as a kid. Hindi nga rin ako nakapaglaro man lamang sa mga kalsada. Sad but true. (Queue in Michael Jackson's 'Childhood' song here)

Still I feel like a child as I look up the moon, maybe I grew up a little too soon.

At 6:40 AM, Blogger slim whale said...

lolo -- it's not yet too late. one can always do those stuff even as an adult. i love that song, Childhood. I just have to ignore the fact that Michael Jackson sang it. thanks so much for dropping by.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Sidney said...

Sure sign that you are getting old Slim Whale!

At 6:21 PM, Blogger bismuth said...

i miss my own guava tree. it usually bears fruit about this time of the year. i like climbing it and balancing on its smooth limbs.

At 11:55 AM, Anonymous ivy said...

came across your blog somehow, decided to eavesdrop on your thoughts while i'm already here. this post in particular, i kept coming back to. i guess it struck a nerve. we did have a guava tree, but i never learned to climb. i was content at looking at it from my 2nd floor window. =) kudos, i think, is what i am trying to say.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger weng said...

"Innocence is the prerequisite of childhood fantasy. And I was losing that, inch by inch."

-ain't it funny that the more we know, the more life is slowly reduced to mediocrity. when a smile is never a smile and a tear rolling down one's cheek speaks of a vast full of unexplained realities.


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