A Time Reflected (Parte Uma)
A Sunday trip to the cinema meant a long walk to the bus stand and a slow torturous diesel chocking journey that took an hour before I could settle my scrawny bum on the cheap wooden cinema seats. I was always had to take the midday show to make sure to be able to catch the last bus, if not then I was buggered. Dad would come on his motorcycle looking for me if I was not home by 4. No, we did not have a telephone.
Accepting an invitation to a friends party or going to the disco was too very few and far in between. There was always the consideration for the fact that Dad had to pick me up. The sight of him waiting patiently for me especially when the weather was foul still haunts me. And he never complained. But the thought of him making the long trip back through pitch dark rural countryside roads was scary for me even as I rode pillion pressed tight against his back to shield myself from the cold bone biting night air.
On the days when Mum needed some ingredients there was that walk to the village shop. It was not too bad even on bitterly miserable cold days even if it was for some small bottle of spice or sugar. But I hated it when she needed her Kotex. Those days it came in a huge assed pink box. I think the shopkeeper found delight in my torture as he always said he did not have a bag big enough for that damn box. Who were you to argue when you were a kid?
Not every meal was one I looked forward to. It was a matter of eat what was laid before you or go hungry. It depended on 2 things. The mood my mother was in and the time of the month. We had porridge on a daily basis. Most times plain with soy sauce or salted fish. I hated it. Till this day I have never eaten another bowl of porridge and will not even if my life depended on it. We did have the occasional decent meal when Dad’s paycheck had a bit leftover. Or it was one of the chooks from the shed. But you had to be careful, lesser chickens meant lesser eggs so it was far and few in between those meals of roasted chicken. I remember sucking on each and every bone.
You had to be inventive and resourceful for playtime. Flying kites was a favourite pastime during the summer. I still remember having to ask Mum for 50 cents to go buy a ball of thread She gave me the dirtiest look complete with lecture of how hard money was to come by. Boy, Mum's know how to make you feel guily. The construction of the kite was always Mum’s baking paper and starch for glue. Bamboo was cut, split, then fashioned into a frame. What joy and a sense of accomplishment when your kite took to the air. I never got angry when it broke its thread and fluttered away into the distance. It was more like a mad dash to get it where it landed just to save the hard work.
Fishing was also another pastime which I remember well. Chinese snakeheads were the usual catch. It never lasted long, a quick fire and the fish was grilled, nothing fancy, just plain. I guess when you have a hungry belly you tend to not mind a lot of things like grit and soot. Reminiscing back now the whole adventure of hoe in hand digging for earthworms for bait was the most fun. The ‘reel’ was a stick and string fashioned with a fish hook. No.6 back then went 3 for 10 cents.
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