Since the last story I posted (IS THIS CLOSURE?) I've been thinking a lot about my childhood and the foggy stories that people who remember me says about me. For instance, I asked my older cousin (older by eleven years) what I was like when I was a pre-teen, and he said I was so strange that even he and his friends made fun of me behind my back. They perceived me as having a "loose screw" - talking and playing games all by myself.
What really got under his skin, though, was when he caught me (7 at that time) in my room - again, talking to myself - one afternoon (he was 18 at that time). He said he listened to my "conversation," and then he heard me address someone as "lala," which is, in this context, an amalgamation of two Filipino words: "lola" which means grandmother, and "yaya" which means nursemaid.
Apparently, I was not the only child among our extended family that was known to talk to ourselves when we were alone, and address an unseen companion as "lala." Nearly every child among our relatives, from the time they could talk up to six or eight years old had been known to do this, and "lala" is a frequent word they would utter.
That got under his skin because he'd been told that he himself did so too when he was very young, and he stopped only when he hit nine or ten. He said he did ask our other cousins, uncles and aunts back then if they remember talking to a "lala" when they themselves were young. Nearly all those who were close to his age group remember having uttered that word when they were young, but the reason behind the word is foggy to them.
The older relatives, however, said something interesting: they remember "lala" as an elderly nanny who used to take care of them whenever they were alone. She always looked the same to everyone who remembers her: she was very old, had very wrinkled skin, and had few teeth left. But she's always kind and her presence is comforting, and she always wears a flowery blouse.
They never knew where she'd go when other family members were around. She would only appear to them when they were alone, or whenever there was a thunder storm. She would come to their rooms, comfort them, and help them go to sleep.
Apparently, children in our (extended) families who were born in the city during the mid-80s and after have no such experiences. Some of the children who were born among our relatives in the provinces, even today, are still known to talk to themselves when they are alone, although "lala" is no longer mentioned.
I have no recollection of "lala" myself, to be very honest. I wonder why.