“First we are children to our parents, then parents to our children, then parents to our parents, then children to our children.”
One fine day, while I’m surfing the net, devotedly playing Happy Aquarium in Facebook, my mom called my name out to help her sort the stuffs she bought from the supermarket. But since I’m so busy feeding and training my beloved fishes (they are about 200, of different kinds and sorts), I told her to wait and let me finish my “noble” work. After five minutes, he called my name once more, this time, louder and firmer, but I just can’t leave my fishes hungry and sick so again, I told her to wait for me. After I finished playing, I got out of the room and saw every grocery bag was already in their place and every grocery item was on their cabinet. And that meant only one thing for me – trouble!
Trouble inside our house generally meant my mom being upset and would get frustrated on us, her children and nag about how irresponsible we are getting. She would tell us how lazy we are and that we really don’t care if she gets tired doing chores inside the house. She would nag about how different her life was when she was still a child and now that she had four overly tiring kids. She would tell us how she would ask herself at night what she had done wrong to be punished with such predicaments. She would talk and talk and talk - a lot. But that’s only when she gets really, really upset.
That moment when she caught me playing Happy Aquarium instead of helping her was a traumatic one for me. That night, she told my dad how disappointed she was on me because her favorite son doesn’t care about her anymore. She told me that since I started attending UP, I became an overly-proud and arrogant son who doesn’t care about his parents. My dad, being the quiet and reserved one, would tell me that I should do something about it. If not, he would cut my allowance, send me in a remote island and then abandon me there. Though I thought it was just a joke, my dad managed to put up a straight face, meaning he really meant that. Oops, I went.
I didn’t realize that playing Happy Aquarium would be such a dreadful act. So I reasoned out that I was just doing my assignment and I’m going to pass it as soon as possible. But of course, it was just a lame excuse. My mom saw me playing with those fishes so she simply talked more and more. She told me how dumb of me to play such fish game when I myself couldn’t manage my own aquarium at home. I had one before, and it didn’t last for long when my fish died. She told me why could I just go outside and fish somewhere so that I can become more active and all. Fishing in Pampanga? How serious could she get, I told myself! She saw that puzzled look in my face so she talked once more. She told me how could I even manage such fishes when I don’t eat seafood (I’m allergic to seafood!) and I don’t even know how do these fishes differ. I couldn’t argue with her since I really hate fishes and seafood and I would fail in identifying which fish is which. She then proceeded to her favorite part – recalling her past. She told me when she was still a child, my grandparents would accompany the market and teach them which stuffs are better and all. Of course, my mom grew up in Ilocos Sur so I would not be surprised if she knew probinsiya stuffs. My dad grew up in Zambales so he would recall more probinsiya stuffs. And the series continued until they noticed that I’m no longer listening.
Basically, that’s what happens whenever I’m in trouble. My mom would compare her generation with mine and tell me, how lucky she was to grow up in the province and experience everything she had experienced. I secretly envied her sometimes, when she would tell how laidback their life used to be and how she would enjoy climbing trees and taking dips in a nearby river. I envied her when she told me about the quiet life she had then, stress-free, happy and contented. She would tell me about how strict her parents were but they were very helpful and generous to their children. She would tell me about how respectful she was then because she feared her parents. She would tell me how religious they were; attending mass with her lolas dressed in Filipiniana with their Rosario in their hands. I envied her childhood stories that somehow I wished I was born in their generation
It doesn’t mean that I really hate our generation. But with all the stress and problems I had gone through, I felt a little bummed up. As if I couldn’t handle anything anymore, as if I’m giving up on everything I wanted to achieve. Basta, our generation now is not as delightful, enjoyable as our parents may had. They enjoyed their childhood more; they ran freely in the streets without their parents worrying much; they had contentment all around them. And I just couldn’t feel it with our generation. Perhaps maybe, I am just an old-soul who got trapped in a body living this generation, just an old-soul who thinks simplicity and peace is everything, an old-soul who prefers the quiet sound of the barrio than the hustle and bustle of the city. Perhaps, I am just an old-soul who lived together with my mom and my dad in the province, reincarnated to be their son.