“Let’s bath in the river,” I urged my nephews and niece while we were about to turn back home from accompanying my husband buying his 3-in-1 coffee fix at the sari-sari store.
“Let’s race,” said the oldest. So Binbin, Bargas, the shy Nicole and I ran with all the speed we could muster, stomping on puddles in the dirt road created by the endless monsoon rain.
Being the most skinny and the lightest, Binbin was ahead of us, myself trailing behind side by side with Nicole and Bargas, who is slightly chubby, was way behind us.
“Wait for meeeee. Ateeee!!! Why are you all leaving me behind?” cried Bargas.
Even though it’s been raining a lot, the river water was very shallow, unlike last year when I visited this place together with my aunt. The rocks were covered in green, slimy moss up to the deepest part of the river. But we didn’t care. The 12-year old and the 10-year old jumped right in while the 31-year old struggled with the sharp and slippery stones under her feet. Young Nicole did not want to get her beautiful, long dress wet but it started raining hard so she decided to dip her toes in the shallowest part anyway.
The water was cold and there wasn’t anyone around. So we shrieked and shouted and played to our heart’s content. I helped the boys climbed up a fallen tree so that we could all plunge to the water, imitating the Dragon Ball Z supernova move. We used the slimy, mossy rocks and rapids to carry us down the lower part of the river, pretended to be sharks in the deeper waters, caught trapped shrimps, splashed water to each other and teased Bargas that we will abandon him until he was on the verge of crying. Nicole couldn’t resist the fun so she followed us, soaking herself and her beautiful dress as well. I taught the kids how to produce an echo and we shouted their parents names, laughing while the sound bounced on the rocks and got carried by the wind.
We could have played in the river the whole afternoon, oblivious to the rain, the cold and time. But the old people came passing by. They waved at us so we thought that we were being summoned home.
Binbin climbed at the back of the tricyle, behind the driver, Bargas and I jumped behind the sidecar and Nicole seated herself inside. We were all merrily laughing at Bargas for stripping off. But we were also concerned that other kids would laugh at him if they see him naked. So as a solution, I covered him with a pink umbrella until we can get to the driveway.
By the time we got back, everybody was already preparing to leave our short reunion. Everyone saw him ran to the house naked with a pink umbrella. Needless to say, we all went home laughing.
On the flight home to the Philippines, I watched the film adaptation of my favourite book, The Little Prince. Between sobs and tears and mucus running down my face, I wrote these quotes on my journal:
“I’m not so sure I want to grow up anymore,” said the little girl.
“Growing up is not the problem, forgetting is,” answered the eccentric pilot.
Maybe that’s why I keep on going home. I don’t ever want to forget the most beautiful part of my life, my childhood.