One of my playmates was rich. She had nice and expensive toys that were always updated with the latest trend. I grew up envying her privilege but I understand that my parents can never afford such fancy. Most afternoons she shows her new toys to us. Sometimes she is kind enough to let us poor kids in the neighborhood to touch and play with her toys. Other times she is so possessive.
Have you ever felt like this as a child when you want something you know you can’t have and your rich neighbor has, and all you can do is just steal stares at her playing with her toys with downcast eyes?
One day she was playing with a new machine, we gathered around her, drawn by the magical sound and the irresistible gravity of our curiosity. She was so engrossed with her toy, lost in the spell of her new machine, she would not let me touch it. Our playmates already had the privilege of the warm sensation on their skin but I can’t. And I felt left out. You know what it means as a child when you are singled out. It means you have lost a certain social standing because children too stratify themselves. I begged for a dozen times and she finally agreed with one condition, that I bath myself with the mound of sand where she was standing. Between the sand and the pleasure of touching her toy, I chose the former because I desire for my playmates to regard me as part and belonging to their group who had witnessed a new invention in the world of make-believe.
So I collected handfuls of sand pouring it over my head, helped by some of my playmates and her, laughing contentedly at my pitiful condition. And then the reward – I get to touch and view the machine for a few seconds – for a few seconds only, because she grabbed it away from my hands and from my eyes that has barely even understood the vision.
I went home tricked, humiliated and very unhappy. Although I am used to pain, the sting is different this time because it is mixed with a heavy doze of self-pity. I took a bath with water and soap and combed off the sands from my scalp, in tears.