Have you seen my childhood?
Unless you’re born in a small town in East Java at the end of 1970s, went to the same kindergarten with me, please don’t try answering the question. You may continue singing, though.
Since most of my kindergarten friends are not active in social media network, I guess I am free to tell you my version of my own childhood story. If they appear to ratify, verify or accuse me of false story, the first thing they’ll encounter is my blank stare of, “Sorry, who are you again?” I don’t remember any one of them. At all.
What I do remember is the joyous, carefree life I had. Living in the early 1980s means being confined to one TV channel that started broadcasting at 4 p.m. Being faraway from the glitz of metropolitan madness means spending most of the time playing outside, or simply taking up extra curricular activities in school.
Thus, I spent most of my time playing with my elder sister. Sometimes we rode a bike together, tried to make our own kite that only flew from the front door to our house gate. Achievement? If you think 10-meter distance is one, thank you very much. There was also one time we played host to a Canadian family with a boy of my age, and he fitted the image of Western family we saw on mediocre TV series: blond.
Being raised in a family where education matters most, I also spent my time taking a few extra private lessons. Math, English, religious lessons, you name them, and none of which felt like a burden. Well, maybe when one of those teachers gave me invoice to give to my mother, which at that time I didn’t know what it was. Just some numbers. And due dates. And no idea that I would do the same when I was adult.
In school, I wasn’t one of those bright students, academic wise. Alright, did more than average, but what I remembered most is the time I spent outside the classroom. There was a kolintang class (ha! I bet you have to Google it to find out what it is!), which to date, I am still proud of having taken the course once.
And then there was boy scout.
Truth is, I’ve never been a fan of the boy scout. Morse code is too complex to remember, all those ropes that we have to tangle to form a life support system (is it too hyperbolic?), and the uniform I despise. Ugh. Guess back then I knew brown is not good for my complexion. Hello, style-freak.
But what I cherished most from boy scout is its outdoor activities. Yes, I experienced my first outdoor camp when I was in elementary school with other boy scout members. Still recalled the first time I encountered paraffin and its use to prevent us from hunger, how to set up tent, how to stay up late at night just to chit chat with friends (nobody told us it is a bad habit), and queueing for taking a bath. Or not at all.
At the end of the camp, we had to hike. It’s a very rare thing to do, but I knew I fell in love with hiking. Guess at that time I started developing my love for long walks.
Tired? No. The fresh, clean air, the sound of bird chirping and laughter from friends redeemed all the supposed hardship.
Then we reached the destination, where we were treated to beautiful views of waterfall. Of course, when you put kids in front of waterfall, they go crazy, and so did we. This was followed by photo session, the result of which we had to wait a week or two, or never if they were never being developed. Digital camera? What’s that?
Back to school, I decided not to pursue further level of boy scout. I am forever stuck to the curb level. In fact, I was glad that further in high school, I didn’t have to wear the brown uniform unlike my juniors.
The idea of boy scout was hardly existent in my life, until a few years later in the present time, I had to handle this film: Lima Elang (Five Eagles).
When I came across the film prior to be on board for it, I thought, “Alright, another children adventure film. A kid is forced to be friends those he initially did not want to be friend with, stuck in a situation he cannot get out of, rediscover his good behavior, change of heart, and everybody’s happy.”
Little did I know that after two screenings, I was in for a treat, way beyond my salary.
A treat of memory of those precious time I spent outdoor. A treat of beautiful views of nature as seen on big screen in lush cinematic color, and seeing those kids in their characters happily running around their camp area and spacious forest, I smiled throughout the film.
Arrogantly, I smiled because I’m glad I had those moments for real when I was a kid. Also I smiled, because those child actors clearly enjoy their time there, maybe because they need fresh, clean break, out of concrete jungle and traffic jam that bring nothing but the worst in us everyday.
Accuse, judge, and sue me for being a terrible salesman, because really, it’s hard not to smile in wishful thinking looking at the kids having a good time.
Then, I don’t have children on my own. Want to, but with who? I realize it is not fair to keep pestering them with our memory. I guess when we can, we need to make time to introduce them beyond the comfort of house, air-con building, and maybe internet. Oh wait, are you still reading?
Time to end this rambling note now. Let’s try to find our own spot of nature.
Because nature shapes our characters. That is where we can see our childhood, be it only in memory.
(the picture is courtesy of The Telegraph UK. To the kind souls uploading that, thanks! I owe you one)