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And Then We All Grew Up

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And then we all grew up. No more dusty hands. No more toppled cans and missing slippers. No more winners. No more losers. After many years of silly games and playing pretend, it’s just life.

One by one, we went. The oldest of us all went first. Said he’d become a nurse, and he did. Another took the same path, but she’s not working in the hospital; took some other job somewhere. Then there was the smartest among us. Said she’d become a doctor, and she’s working on it. The ten years hasn’t passed yet, but she never failed to impress us whenever she visits, toting medals and achievements with her to display in her old home. She was the third one who left.

There were a few years interval before another went. We were still young and we still played, but we were not as naïve anymore. The puberty bug bit us all, and there was no cure for it. Our bodies started to change, just as how the seasons passed.

Together, we, the girls, teased the boys whose voices squeaked and broke every now and then. The boys, consequently, teased us girls as our chests began to develop. No, scratch that. The boys, consequently, teased the other girls as their chests began to develop. Sadly, I still have a flat chest.

When it was time for the oldest boy remaining in our group to have his circumcision, there were a lot of questions hanging around. For the other boys, it was “Did it hurt?”, for they knew that they were up next the following summer. For the girls, it was “Why do they have to undergo such a thing?” But most of the time, it would be “I wonder how it looks like…”


Then when one of us girls had her first period, it was all questions too. But unlike the thick fog of curiosity that wrapped around the mysterious circumcision, it was something more private to talk about, and only the ones with the guts to ask asked. “How does it feel like when you have it?” It was a boy who asked that, and he got a slap on the face as an answer.

We all became moodier. We all became smellier. We all grew pimples. And with all the older kids (who would probably have answers to lessen our anxieties) in college, we were simply clueless.

Shortly after the oldest boy felt like he was already a real man, he got sick of us babies, and didn’t play with us again. Like the three, he also went. But being the notorious one and the un-smartest one, he trudged a rough road, chose the life of rock n roll over books. What he’s been through, we don’t know. We only heard little about what he’s up to. We never talked about him either, but in our hearts, we always knew him as our kuya, our oldest brother, and we felt sorry for him.

There were six of us left, and it was I who’ll have to go next. Deep down, I always knew that my time to leave the group would come one way or another. There was no running away from that fact. But my head repelled all the thoughts about growing up. I refused to grow up. Playtime had been so much fun that I just couldn’t let go of it in exchange of high school text books then college thesis. I just couldn’t get how the first four were able to stop being a kid and face the real world like an adult.


Will there be signs?


Will people make me?


Or, will I just know?


But whatever it is, I didn’t bother much thinking about it. At the moment, I was their ate, their eldest sister, and it was my job not to make them feel even more awful as we begin to diminish in number. I had to make them feel that I was there for them.

I grew taller, looked weirder, and our games carried on. But that was until I faced the demands of high school – both social and academic. Bit by bit, I lost time for them, my friends, my playmates, my little brothers and sisters. More and more, I missed playtime. And without me in the picture anymore, I just didn’t have any idea how they were doing now. I was the fifth one to leave, and I’m going to be a writer – I think.

Over time, I’ve learned very little about how the other five did. One stopped school – got expelled, actually, but he’s enjoying his grade-free life. One moved out with her family, escaping her father’s countless debts in town. Another turned out to be a beauty with guys falling on her feet, while the youngest became the social climber. And the closest to me, will be taking dentistry when school kicks off after the summer.

So you see, we’re all doing fine, whatever fine means. Fate brought us together, then broke us into pieces once again for some reason. Time passes, everything changes. Some become successful, while some become…not-so successful. And, others just turn out in the most unexpected of ways. It’s the sad truth that everybody seems to deny. But at the end of the day, we all started as kids, and then we all grew up. No more dusty hands. No more toppled cans and missing slippers. No more winners. No more losers. After many years of silly games and playing pretend, it’s just life.



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