I didn’t have much toys growing up. Most of them are gifts from my father’s sisters. Since I was a girl, they gave me dolls but I don’t play with dolls as dolls. Dolls didn’t really arouse the child in me like the little girls do, instead dolls tickled my curiosity about how a miniature toy made in the image of a human being was made. So I disassemble them.
Come play time, when my curiosity is satiated, my dolls are already severely decapitated; their heads, legs and arms flinging from their sockets or are otherwise permanently dislodged, already useless, I get tired of them and forget about them. They gave me books too at a very early age when I cannot yet read. So I just stare into the pictures and make my own story out of it. Alice in the Wonderland and Jack and the Beanstalk scares me but Jack and Jill and their pail fascinates me.
But I enjoy climbing trees. I have climbed most of the trees around the house including the stealthy papaya the citrus and even the bougainvilla. I am a good climber in fact very good at it. But while my climbing skills is excellent getting off the tree is a different story. The only way I climb down is either jumping a few feet or falling, both of which often earns me either scratches and sprains, cuts in my head and of course my parents whip.
In the afternoon and especially when my mother is out and I am in sole custody of my grandmother, I sneak out the house to play in the ditch; the one where my father smashed himself and his borrowed motorcycle when he was drunk. During dry season the ditch is also dry so I navigate it from end to end sometimes cutting my feet with broken glasses and getting whipped as a result but it does not deter me because in the ditch are my favorite mouth watering black plums (lomboy) that have fallen off from our neighbors tree. When there’s nothing to pick anymore, I play with grasses. The broken glass, the whip, and the ditch did not give me so much trouble as the diminutive and seemingly harmless grasses.
One afternoon after getting very bored, I played with the seeds of the grasses, inserting them one by one on my nose. With each seed comes the pleasurably itchy sensation. So I repeated the method with each seed until my nose was filled, removed them, inserted them again and remove them and vice versa, until at one point and to my horror, I could not remove the seeds anymore. They were all stuck inside my nostrils or maybe my inner nose to be exact. Terrified and unable to breathe, I ran for help and realize it was even more difficult to talk. My mother realizing the medical emergency forgot to whip me and took me to the clinic.
The doctor patiently removed one by one the nasty obstruction in my nasal phallanges until I can breathe and talk and sigh with relief and swear to mother and the doctor never to do it again. Surprisingly my mother did not beat me. Instead, she laughed and laughed to her satisfaction.
I did not laugh, I was humiliated and scared.
I never played with seeds again and my nose or both ever again.