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Friday, 1 September 2006

The Nashman Definitive Autobiography: The Wonder Years (Capitulo Uno)


March 29, 1979. A sad day in history.

When I was born, my father confronted the doctor asking if I was pulled from the correct hole "Doc, sigurado ba kayong hindi sa pwit ng misis ko nyo ito nahugot?"

I was so fugly my arrival caused post-partum arguments between my mother and father because no one wanted to be seen carrying an orc up and down Session Road. No nanny would want to take employment in our household "Yaya po ako, hindi zoo-keeper" was the common excuse. Eventually, my first nanny was both blind and deaf- mute. She couldn't see how disfigured I was and when her heightened sense of touch finally figured it out, she could only wave her hands frantically. My father, who did not know sign language, interpreted this as a sign of joy.

Yet, my parents remained very compassionate. Everytime I was hungry, my mother took me from the blind and deaf mute nanny to breastfeed me. A member of the RSPCA saw this and gave my mum a gold plaque of appreciation. "Kahit hayup, may karapatan rin sila"

It was customary back then to take the name of the Saint you shared your birthday with during baptism. When my mother expressed her intention for me to be accepted into the Roman Catholic faith, the statues of the two Saints whose name I was supposed to adopt cried blood. The Papal Nuncio informed the Vatican and the Pope spoke ex catedra against naming fugly babies with saintly names. In fact, the Pope himself called my parents and told them it was better if they converted to another religion instead. "Gargoyles are an architectural embellishment. It doesn't mean we can baptise them" said His Holiness.

In Filipino households, children are expected to entertain guests. Parents would goad their children "C'mon, Tito Jun is here. Sing for Tito" or "C'mon dance the macarena for Auntie Beth". In my case, whenever guests were coming my Dad would ask the yaya to hide me. "Dali, yaya ilabas ang blusang itim! Parating na mga bisita, itago mo na yang anak ni Janice". In fact, no one would come into our house unless they were assured that I was restrained. The dogs were happy to run free as I replaced them from the leash.

Our neighbour, believe it or not, had a pet monkey. (Back then, exotic animal trafficking laws were nonexistent.) My mother would leave me with the monkey and when it was time for dinner, she would oftentimes take the monkey home instead of me. Our neighbour had to bring me home to my parents. "Kala ko kase makakalusot" said my mum shrugging her shoulders.

...to be continued

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