In response to the Daily Post prompt, Lookin’ Out My Back Door.
Behind me is not a back door, not even one that leads outside. It’s a door to my childhood room. In it is a window with alternating horizontal bars and swirly metal. It’s not to cage someone in, but to protect from robbers. Cats were always welcome, however; their paw-prints along with the various footprints that have graced the floors, are invisible markers of the history of that room — my history.
I call it my childhood room and not “my” room, as it has never really been mine in the beginning. In this old house, it was the Master’s Bedroom. Once I was big enough not sleep in a crib, my Lola (grandmother) took me in to sleep beside her. She has always wanted a little daughter, you see. God answered her prayers through a grand daughter instead.
For as long as I can remember, every night, she would tell me to go to bed, and immediately, we will be joined by our shitzu mongrel pet, Candy. After tucking the kulambo (mosquito net) under the banig (woven mat covering the bed), she would guide me in prayer: thanking God for the day, asking Him for forgiveness, and praying for protection and blessing.
The dominating furniture is the above-mentioned queen-sized bed — with narra (red sandalwood) frame with headboards, and a woven rattan surface. I like sleeping on it despite the absence of a mattress, because it keeps us cool in the warmer days. No icky sweaty feeling from stuffy mattresses, nice back support, and super convenient when you’re still the age of wetting beds — easier to clean!
As a small kid back then, the bed for me was huge. In the daytime, when the kulambo was tucked away, and the pillows and blankets set aside, my brother and I would play on it, pretending it was a wholly different world. When not busy fighting monsters and keeping our make-believe house clean and tidy, we would just be chillin’ out and watching cartoons from my grandfather’s black and white TV with our yaya (babysitter). If I were alone, I would make tents out of Lola‘s unused yards of fabric, and host parties with my dolls and stuffed animals. My yaya would join me in the evening so we can watch Ghostbusters and other evening cartoons together.
A notable piece in the room was my grandmother’s antique Singer sewing machine. I have always wanted to learn how to use it, and a certain glee filled me whenever I heard the distinct whir of the primitive engine. Most of the time, I knew that either my Mom or my Lola were patching something up so I can still use it, or actually sewing something new for me to wear.
The rest of the room did not have much of an effect on me. I did not have much regard for my Lola‘s closet, unless she took out her Chanel No. 5 or Nina Ricci’s Air du Temps perfume and would dab some on me before we went to church. The impressive four feet tall narra commode with the marble surface was only interesting for a while because from it came the jewels that Lola said she would pass on to me (notably, her childhood bracelet that has “Paz” engraved on it), and cute pastel-colored nightgowns that made me feel like a princess.
It was only lately that I have come to appreciate the five feet tall narra-framed mirror. The mirror and the commode used to belong to Lola‘s mother — my Impong Ponsa (great-grandmother Alfonsa. Lola loved saying that I look like her.). There’s just something about the mirror and how my Dad placed the lights around it that always made me feel polished and pretty!
Today, the room is a mess — 30 years and so of accumulating things and moving in and out and back again would do that. The commode has remained unopened for 20 years; the mirror is still sturdy and strong; the closet and dresser has been renovated with new wood; the bed is still sturdy and has survived several floods, albeit the rattan surface has been replaced with the plastic (and more durable) variant. I have so many crates and boxes filled with books and old clothes lying around and in need of serious donating and sorting, that I barely have floor space left!
And yet, in the seemingly messy room, I find peace and solace. My Dad would rather sleep in a smaller room (that doubles as a library) because he considered the room to be mine. My brothers would rather sleep together in another room or on the couch, because they knew that the room is mine. My Lola may have shared that room with me at first, I may have shared that room with my youngest brother (when he was smaller than me), but in the end, it has become my room.
That bedroom has seen me since the day I was born. It has seen me through times of happiness and times of madness, in times of sorrow and in times of joy; is witness to my seasons of uncertainty and my journey to clarity; a guardian to my times of creativity and frustration; a watcher of dreams conceived in my mind and awaiting the time I will give birth to them.
The room holds my history, and is an awaiting spectator to my future — it is time that I claim it as mine.