I grew up under a spartan discipline. I got dozens of punishments of all types and degrees. But these punishments only hurt and scared me but never tamed me. In fact, as the years passed I have become a spiteful spirit. I was a child thief and master counterfeiter.
I was a tiny little girl and always is. I looked frail and most always a loner. I often appeared scared and confused on the outside; but bitter, vengeful and evil on the inside.
I have stolen money and stuff. Often I was found out and I got beaten badly. Like any other child, I was learning to understand right and wrong. Each time, I get punished, I transform to a little girl, ashamed of the world, ashamed of what I’d done and ashamed of myself but only temporarily. As soon as I get over the shame and the pain and bruises from the whippings disappear, the devil in me works overtime.
There are four major cases in so far as I can remember.
1. Stealing Coins, Lots of it
When I joined formal school, I noticed my classmates having enough money to buy food and coke during breaks. I didn’t like coke but one of my favorite sidewalk food and even until now is camote cue and I cannot afford it. Everytime I pass by my Auntie who cooks and sells the delicacy, my mouth waters. It was always like that and the smell intoxicates me like crazy and I cannot bear so much of it. So one day, I scooped a handful of coins from my father’s pocket.
Between the immoral and punishable act of stealing and the satiating delight of camote cue, I choose the latter. With my loot jingling in my pocket, I purchased my first crispy camote cue and then another and another and another until my Auntie noticed I have more money than a child could ever earn. She turned me in and I got beaten badly by my father with his thick belt.
2. Stealing Plastic Balloons
I like blowing plastic balloons too. My mother sells it in our store. My mother hangs the delightfully scented plastic balloons out in the open such that it is so convenient for me to hide and grab one from the outside. I inflate and play with the balloons and when consumed, I steal another and then some, and of course I’m the stupidest thief and I was beaten awfully bad with my father’s belt, its metal buckle leaving marks on my thighs.
May is the month of flowers. This is the time children go to church after naptime to say the rosary and offer flowers.
We fall in line and get a ticket as a reward. These tickets will be redeemed in the last day of May, where we get stuff like pencils, notebooks, ballpens, bags, pencil cases and other religious trinkets. The more tickets we have the more stuff we get. There are only 31 days of May, which means that a diligent child will get at least 31 tickets but some have more when they pray hardest or they bring the bestest bunch of flowers or they play angels wherein they get bonus tickets as much as 5 pieces. Because I was never diligent, sometimes I just forget attending the affair, and I cannot play an angel, I only earned a few tickets. Official tickets have a seal of the Parish Church and a signature and date, done probably to avert counterfeiters.
That summer, I coveted and wanted to to bring back the luscious rewards, but I only have a few tickets. So I had a sudden creative urge to use my father’s professional seal. Forging the signature and the dates and stamping the paper with my father’s seal, I made dozens of them. Realizing that my father’s name was on the paper, I turned pale and panicked and tried wetting and crumpling them to conceal the proof. I did not make so much of the counterfeit tickets lest I be found out. I carefully arranged and inserted real from the fake ones so as not to be noticed.
Come redemption time, it was very late in the afternoon close to dusk and the children were noisy trying to steal each other’s turn on the counter. I took my turn with pallid face and trembling hands never looking at people in the eye. I got all my tickets redeemed in what seemed like forever in the counter, that I wanted to weep and pass out. They never bothered to check the tickets. I went home with my much-coveted stuff. It’s just that I was tormented for a few days in case they ever find out that my father’s name were on the tickets.
4. Gluttony and Desecration of the Hostia
I love the taste of the thing they offer as sacramental bread during the holy Roman Catholic mass.
I tasted one after I opened a transparent plastic bag full of the coin-like stuff from my grandmother’s china cabinet out of curiosity. I liked the taste so I slipped dozens more in my mouth but not so much more for my grandmother to notice that I pilfered the holy bag.
My grandma’s china cabinet is where she keeps some of her stuff, including some of her coins. But I was not attracted to money that time, I only wanted to eat the yummy thing.
I found out that the bags of the delicious flat round bread are for the priest but I have enjoyed eating them even before they were brought to the church.
I was never found out or my grandmother did not anymore bother to round me up, she knows and understands because not even mice nor cats can open a tall and locked china cabinet.
So while all children tasted their first bread during the first communion. I first had mine in my grandmother’s house behind the china cabinet.
The first holy confession of the sinful little wretch, who is me, became a real tormenting battle between the good and the evil.
I decided not to tell the priest especially about the bread in the confession booth, otherwise he gives me a month-stretch of the rosary and I cannot memorize the rosary (which is one of the reasons why I only get a few tickets during flores de mayo). Aside from that, kneeling also makes my knees really hurt. So my string of lies multiplied my sins. And besides I am too sinful to be even forgiven, so I did not bother. I managed the first communion licking vigorously with my tongue the thin round bread sticking hard to my palate. Because they said, you are not supposed to chew it but melt it in your mouth, if it sticks somewhere within the confines of your buccal cavity it means you are a sinner. And so I was.