My Wound is Bigger than Yours, Belat

My cousins and I would sit around the veranda—some on wooden chairs, some on rocking chairs, and some on chairs with cushion seats. We would tell each other stories, talking well into the night as our parents slept through our giggles. One time we talked about our biggest wounds. It was like a competition on who had the worst wound of all time.

A teacher once told me that if you looked at someone’s legs you’ll know if that person had a happy childhood. The more peklats the person has, the happier that person’s childhood must have been. Scars were once wounds, and wounds meant you fell over, and this speaks of a past of rough play, of running around, of adventure.

I told my cousins about the time I rode a bike around our house in the province. At first I pedaled around the flat cemented grounds, then around the veranda’s floor made of small white smooth stones, then through the dirt grounds with rocks and small ditches. When I wanted to stop, I placed one foot down, and with the help of my trusty tsinelas, the bike screeched into a halt.

Emboldened by my success, I started eying the steep slope. I shook my head, No it’s too crazy, that slope is too steep. But I couldn’t resist the challenge. I thought to myself, I can easily stop the bike once it reaches the garage. I’ll just put my foot down.

So I went up the slope and rode my bike. It was so fun until I needed to stop. I put my foot down, but the friction between my tsinelas and the ground destroyed my tsinelas. I used my other foot to stop the bike, but my other tsinelas was also destroyed. Without my tsinelas, I knew that if I put my foot down, the ground would cut through my skin. The bike was going faster and faster as I went down the slope. I was afraid that I would go straight to the talahib area where snakes lived.

I panicked so I decided to direct the bike towards the veranda. I thought, I’ll just crash into something. It will hurt, but it will be better than colliding with snakes. I slammed into the cement benches of the veranda. The edge of the bench hit my leg, and scraped a good deal of flesh. It hit the lower part of my leg, the front part, the part where the bone connected to my knee. I looked at the wound, and I saw that it was not red but white.

My mom started treating the wound with Betadine and Agua Oxigenada. I liked Betadine because it didn’t sting. It only left a reddish color that was like blood. With my leg smeared with “blood,” I thought it looked really cool. I hated Agua because it really hurt, but I loved looking at the bubbles that would come out of the wound. So with the help of the electric fan pointed right at my wound before my mother applied Agua, I was able to stand the painful treatment.


[1] Sometimes my grandma would take me there because she had to pay the electric and water bills, replace wood that was being eaten by termites, fix and clean the house, and make certain improvements to the house. I found our old bike and discovered that the brakes no longer worked, but that did not stop me. I was bored, and all I had was the bike. There was no television because we didn’t go there very often. Nowadays, there’s still no phone or internet there, and the television only has two channels GMA and ABS-CBN.

[2] Tall grass.

[3] Once our cat killed a baby snake under our bed. Ma and I lived in the province for a couple of months when I was a kid. We would pagpag (shake/ shake off)the bed sheets every night before we went to sleep just to make sure that there were no snakes hiding under the sheets. I didn’t get scared because I thought it was normal to check for snakes before going to bed.

[4] I can never be sure if what I saw was really bone, but it was white.

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