Tuesday, February 20, 2007

10. Innocence

We had household maids coming from my father’s province in Cagayan de Oro. I remember distinctly one named Balding who was a healthy country lass with a massive mound of hair. I still have a picture together with her taken from one of the small photo studios along the main avenue Espana. She was one to create stories and situations about herself to make envious the other maids in the neighborhood. She would bribe me five centavos for me to shout at the top of my lungs, within the hearing range of everyone, in the tiny street where we lived, that she has a telephone call from her boyfriend. She would then proudly detach herself from the huddle of the other maids and ran shouting “tell him to hang on I’m coming”. That made her day and I, with my reward of five centavos, would go over to the Chinaman’s corner store to buy sweet sour hard candies. That was the first incidence where I have taken part in a ruse for gain. I only realized its shamefulness long after I graduated from grade school and it felt stupid every time it crossed my mind. It was some sort of delayed loss of innocence. It was one of those things that pop unexpectedly in your mind. You could dismiss it as a trivial transgression and although I am not self-righteous I can’t help the queasy feeling whenever the thought occurred or maybe it was the thought that I was used by a lowly household help that rankles in my mind.

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