Carnival of some early memories
Whenever I came home from work, I would always catch my 5-year-old brother staring zombie-eyed at the computer, his tiny fingers dancing in the keyboard precisely like a surgeon’s fingers as he navigates his avatar in some bizarre game of Legoworld. He didn’t look up when I call his name, nor he never look down on his school textbooks until the last minute before he goes to school. Unless I cut off our internet subscription or turn off the computer and handle my brother’s tantrum (which is very hard since my dad, a call center agent, is sleeping off his sleep-deprived work in the next room), there’s nothing much I can do but continuously call to him to do his homework.
I almost pity my 5-year-old brother’s generation. They bear the brunt of all the innovations of modern technology, the good sides as well as the bad sides. Everything is given to them I fear there won’t be any room for creativity or execution anymore. They didn’t get to experience the simple pleasures of having to be given extra time to play outside in the evening, imagining kapres and white ladies while you play Tagu-taguan, or the simple happiness you get when you make your own toys or artworks and be patted on the head for it.
Seeing my brother’s childhood reminds me of my own. I have fond memories of climbing up the roof of my tita’s house with my cousins after getting into a fight with ‘squatter’ kids in our district, being chased by a neighbor’s scary Labrador (and getting bitten by it, twice!), making mud pies and crushing dry leaves in the backyard of my grandparents’ house and best thing of all, singing my head off to my dad’s playlist of 80s and 90s music blasting off the stereo every Sunday morning. I have an unusually sharp memory of my childhood but it makes me overly sentimental sometimes, thus the name of this blog.
One of the cherished memories I had is during the end of the week after school, my cousin, Ate Mean, would take my brother Mico and I to the mall. When you’re a kid, the mall is the best place you ever saw. It’s got food, arcade, colorful clothes worn by mannequins, toy shops and candy stores, and in the case of this mall, a small carnival at the topmost floor.
The carnival isn’t that too great, but when you’re a kid standing 3 feet tall, everything seems so wonderful and overwhelming. It’s got bump cars over one side, a mini-roller coaster at the center of the whole galley, a horror train at the right and loads of arcade games giving off bright and colorful lights that seemed to hypnotize you ‘play me, play me’. My brother and I always drive my Ate Mean crazy begging for tokens and more tickets even if we nearly ran out of jeep fare home. Afterwards, she would treat us a nice fruit shake and steamy hot mini-doughnuts sprinkled up in cinnamon. We would sit by the steps of the carnival, cooling off the doughnuts while our pockets are bunched up with all the tickets we won.
So one day, I made up my mind to take my little brother to the carnival and check it out after so many years. This time, I won’t be the kid needing to be taken care of but the Ate Mean for my brother. In the jeep ride to the mall, I was already planning out all the sort of things my brother and I would ride on the carnival.
In the mall, my brother enjoyed himself with all the colorful shoppes and I realized that maybe it’s because we have no time for him, he would comfort himself with the internet and computer games. There should be an activity that would bring us together, at least once a week, just like Ate Mean taking us to the mall when we were around that age.
We visited the carnival and I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was so much smaller than I remembered! The carnival looks so lonely, I guess, deserted in this Saturday evening. I remembered of the time when the place is so packed we have to eat dinner downstairs to wait for the crowd to subside. But now, it seemed as though it was forgotten and abandoned after so many years of providing good childhood memories like mine.
The arcade games we used to play didn’t give off the same colorful display I used to remember. In fact, some of the games I used to play are gone, carted off somewhere. The bump car and roller coaster are still there, but my brother isn’t tall enough to ride so we have to settle with the horror train.
The horror of riding the horror train back then came rushing back to me and I have to stifle a smile when my brother asked me if it’s scary as we boarded up. We are the only ones in the ride. Anticipation sets in as the train slowly rolled off to the dark cavernous opening. The Little Me would begin to roll like a ball and close her eyes around this time and I laughed when my brother did the same. This must have been what Ate Mean is feeling when she had my brother and I clutching off her shirt while we scream our heads off inside the tunnel even if our eyes remained shut all throughout.
For the first time, I saw what is it inside the tunnel and shook my head for what I’ve been dreading off in the past. Aside from hastily-made dummies of witches and zombies, we have this guy wearing a mask of Ghostface in “The Scream” and scare us with quick boos then disappears as quickly as that. I guess the real amusement for adults riding the train is watching their kids petrified in fear.
I tried to push my brother to ride the carousel, but it was either he’d been shook up with the horror train ride or thinks the carousel is too ‘babyish’, he refuses to go. In the end, we spent the remainder of our time jumping off from one game to another; there wasn’t much crowd to deal with anyway.
Looking around, I realized this would be gone soon. Maybe be turned into a department store or a supply appliances store or something. It had a feeling of bleakness and old-age, if places have age. I guess in my memory it has. This may have been the very last time I get to see it, and play in it. I may have grown taller and act more grown-up, but I realized that this trip isn’t just about showing my kid brother a sweet memory of my childhood, it’s also about me relieving them. Even if there’s nothing much in here to relieve about and there’s only a bittersweet feeling of having to see the place in the edge of crumbling down, I am glad that I came here with my kid brother and personally say goodbye to it, thanking it for the memories I will tell down to my children and children’s children after they take off that 3-D glasses from all-day gaming and sit for supper.
Maturity comes when you have to accept that things won’t be the same as before, because you yourself is inevitably changing.
My brother and I may have different childhood but this doesn’t mean his is far more inferior than mine. I just wish there are more things he would experience and remember than spending the whole day staring at a little box. He’s only 5; it’s not too late for me to open his world a little bit more. In some way, I guess the world will end in zombie apocalypse, not with our people turning into flesh-eating monsters but our children staring blankly into space, immersed into media and technology. You don’t have to be bitten to get the strain. It easily spreads to all of us.
We finished off the mini-doughnuts and headed for home, back to the real world and to the bleak future waiting for us ahead.