At the beginning of COS, David talks about his childhood memories: about the “sticky heat” in Florida … about chasing scurrying lizards and hunting duck eggs to hatch them … about living in a Latin environment with lots of Salsa and all kinds of music amidst the smell of home-made chicken soup and tortillas being grilled … and always having his cousins around him.
He stressed that, before all the music and his faith, there were the significances of his roots and the influences which had contributed to his becoming who he is today.
Like David, my numerous cousins formed my social life when I was a kid – that was the most memorable part of my childhood. Every school holiday, our working parents would round us up and send us to our grandparents’ home in a house by the beach.
We swam, built sand-castles, frolicked in the sea and on the beach, and mercilessly chased after sandcrabs during low tides. We also dug for clams which my ever-grumbling but doting Grandma turned into part of our dinner. We also played games like hopscotch .. rope-skipping .. 5-pebbles .. Blind Man’s Buff .. What’s the time Mr. Wolf .. but our favourite was Hide-and-Seek.
Hide-and-Seek, surprisingly, is a game which can test a child’s ingenuity: Once, one of my cousins had hidden himself in a bathroom where there was an old-fashioned built-in water-tub. When he heard the Seeker approach, he plunged his whole head into the fully filled water-tub, to presumably conceal his identity. The Seeker took one puzzled look at this figure with its head submerged in water … scratched his head … then quietly sauntered away without uttering a word. Yes, I did have the company of some wacky and weird cousins during those carefree, fun years.
Back in KL, my cousins and I occasionally went to the cinema together. It was never like a simple no-fuss experience – more like Trooping the Colours with a maid in attendance. She was a matronly, kind and strong woman – probably a little over-zealous – from a village in China. We kids secretly whispered among ourselves that she must have swum the South China Sea to get out of a communist regime to come to Malaysia. She kept a hawkish close vigilance on us at the cinema. And strapped to her shoulder was a large refugee-kind of basket containing a load of woollen cardigans to make sure we didn’t catch a cold in the air-conditioned theatre. We tried to walk a detached distance away from her, pretending she was not one of us, not wanting to be seen as pampered brats. But she faithfully remained ever-present in our faces.
My Mum was fastidious about her kitchen from which I was constantly denied entry. Thank goodness for that because she and the maid often slaughtered Live chickens in it. The rumpus and commotion which went along with that operation, were enough to drive me far, far away: Feathers flying… furious and terrified clucking reverberating through the house. Nonetheless, it did not deter us from enjoying that poor bird which so ferociously fought for its life an hour before dinner was served. (apologies to the vegans)
Not everything was on the fun and furious lane those days – there were serious and quiet periods.
Despite many of my alone-hours sketching and drawing and filling every blank page in all the books at home with my pictures, my much-loved Dad – calm and gentle, never uttering a harsh word to anyone, but perhaps a little too idealistic – had visions of my becoming a pianist. He would semi-recline in an armchair next to the piano beside me, with his eyes shut, and listening to what I would term as my Cacophony-pretending-to-be-Chopin. Sadly, I was too lazy and too rebellious to put in the necessary hours of practice and labour. This neglect had caused me much regret in my later life. Just think – I could possibly have become David’s co-pianist! If my foresight had been more acute, I would have killed myself practising.
I had my 1st childhood scare at the tender age of two. My Grandma carried me in her arms to attend a traditional Chinese Wayang (opera). When out charged onstage a male character in his freakish costume and wearing a face painted in blotches of bizarre colours, all hell broke loose for me. I went berserk and very nearly brought the house down with my dramatic performance. (C’mon … may I remind you I was only 2 years old 😛 and my life before that had always been a soothing and pretty one.)
My Grandma was very smart. She cuddled and carried me backstage to watch and observe the actors go through the whole process of having their faces painted. That stopped my crazy screams … until David Archuleta came along. Of course. That wise move by my Grandma also opened up my journey as a lover of the ancient Beijing Opera when I grew up.
My 1st encounter with snow caused my aunts and uncles some worries.
It was at a family gathering in London. Someone rushed through the door from the garden yelling: “It’s snowiiingg!” Before anyone can say Timbuctoo, I was dashing outdoors, wearing only a tshirt. I stood there, out in the open garden, with my welcoming arms outstretched towards the heavens, amidst the downpour of snow and relishing the long-awaited dream come true, presumably wallowing in something godly.
“Hey you!!! Come indoors immediately!! You’ll catch your death!!” yelled everyone.
“No siree! I’m not going anywhere! Look! I’m the Snow Queeeeenn!!”
When I was eventually dragged indoors, my hands were frozen to the point of immobility. That was one of my most beautiful … most romantic … most adrenaline-driven childhood memories.
Friends of my family had a nickname for me during my childhood – Little Miss Apple. I was rather proud of it, thinking that the name meant I was as pretty as an apple.
The sad truth was, I later discovered, that this blessed name was bestowed upon me as a token of the resemblance of my body shape with the shape of an apple. Hmph … they certainly had a dang cute sense of humour.
I have to agree with David that the experiences and images during childhood immensely influence what we are today, although there is much we can do during our adult life, to amend or improve whatever we want to change within ourselves. Having said that, I am not sure as to which part of my young life had contributed to my “stalking” a young artiste – a.k.a. David Archuleta. Perhaps it is my constant pursuit of appreciation of quality, aesthetics and ethereal beauty stemmed from childhood. And David gives me all that.
Also – the unforgettable experiences of the good, clean fun and the carefree days with my many wacky cousins had expanded to the desire of having the comraderie with a group of people who call themselves “Archies” who, by any standards, are good, clean, decent, nevertheless delightfully madcap people.
“If you carry your childhood with you, You never become older”
– Sir Tom Stoppard (British playwright) –
“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights
Before the dark hour of reasoning grows”
– Sir John Betjeman (English poet and writer) –
May those words impart you enlightenment and wisdom. Love as children do … keep the dark hour of reasoning of “why we love Archie” at bay. Enjoy ourselves!
Now that both David and I have shared some childhood memories with you, it’s your turn to share your memories with us …. the music you listened to as a child … the spankings you got from your teachers… etc 🙂