Friday, March 13, 2009

I Want To Go Back Too


(In which time machines would be really helpful.)


***


Yesterday, I had a class with one of my students and in her book, she has to answer a sentence completion activity.

I want to go back to ________________________ because _________________________.

And she said:

“I want to go back to when I was a child because that time I don’t know hardness and no worry.” [sic]

I corrected her sentence and looked at the clock. Time’s up. We said “good-bye” and I hung up the phone.

And I thought: who doesn’t want to go back to being a child? Who doesn’t want to relive those carefree days when the consequence of irresponsibility isn’t that harsh? Who doesn’t want to go back to the time when you could have your youth as an excuse for almost everything wrong you’ve done?

My student said she didn’t know hardships ad worries when she was young. Well, most of us did. But worries and hardships for a child aren’t as hard and worrying as they are for adults. When I was a child, I seriously thought that hardship is learning math and having my father as my math tutor. I was made to memorize the multiplication table and be able to recite it as soon as my father finished filing all the containers with water from the artesian well. That was so hard! I cried when I wasn’t able to give the product of 6 and 7! And it angered my father so much that we went back to table one! Oh my. I missed an episode of my favorite cartoon show because of that. And the worst part is, I screwed up in class when my teacher asked me to answer numerical multiplication questions written on flash card, against another classmate. You know that game in which you and your opponent will stand at the end of the room and the person who answers first and correctly, will step forward? Oh how my elementary teachers love that!

Anyway, I screwed up. Not that I didn’t know the answer but it was just that my eyesight wasn’t as good as my opponent’s. I could barely answer. How could I anyway? My opponent has already answered when I haven’t even read the equation yet! So imagine my classmates’ stares when I was left standing in the middle of the room. I was so embarrassed I couldn’t recognize anyone. All I saw were little black heads and my teacher’s don’t-worry-that-wasn’t-really-so-bad-after-all face. Hey, I managed to take a couple of steps forward! I tried to hide it from my parents but since I wasn’t a very good liar then, the story slipped and they knew I was a loser.

Petty things, small wounds, tolerably harsh words and little sacrifices. That was hardship for me. And that was before.

Now, as a young adult, I realize that hardships dwell everywhere in this forest called life where it’s all about survival and fighting for your dreams seems to be an endless process. Hardship is seeing all the things you’ve put up being crushed. It’s seeing people you love suffer. It’s having your heart bruised and wounded and torn. It’s having your dignity and reputation questioned and tested. It’s having your faith shaken. It’s having your eyes swollen for crying only to have it flooded again the next day. It’s knowing that one day, the people you’ve shared your life and dreams with will be gone for good. It’s the anticipation of suffering and loneliness that you have to endure each day. It’s about climbing and being pulled and starting again from the bottom.

My student might have thought of the same things that I just did. That’s why she wants to go back to the time when she “don’t know hardness and no worries.” [sic]