Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ang Alamat ng Agimat

A while ago while I was with Nichi and Dad at the hospital awaiting the Pediatric Endocrinologist who would hopefully solve the mystery behind Nichi’s narcolepsy, I saw this poster about autism at the next clinic:

If you zoom in at the image at the last row, center column, you’ll see this:

I suddenly remembered my infamous agimat. Now I’ve decided to end my birthday month by sharing my agimat story.

My dad has acknowledged my annoyingly extreme thirst for attention probably even before I learned how to talk. Being the loving dad that he is, he tried to give me special attention to avoid surges of tantrums and even a hunger strike on my part. As a consequence, I’ve grown closer to him than to my mom.

As my parents would relay it, it was pretty much impossible to separate me from my dad. I would cry like crazy when he’s not around, which I guess happens all the time since Dad didn’t actually work at home.

No one thought that my dad’s old t-shirt will shut me up and bring peace in our home.

I started out sniffing the said shirt. Perhaps it smelling like dad made me believe that he was there with me all the time. Mom said I’d wrap it around my neck and hug it in my sleep. Needless to say, I never let go of the shirt, my agimat.

Eventually the shirt looked and smelled raggedy; my mom realized the need to wash it. She sneaked it away from me when I wasn’t looking. Later, I searched for it but to no avail. And since newly laundered clothes do not dry up at will, shutting me up has once again posed another challenge to my parents.

What other way to solve the problem but to give me another shirt. So I ended up with two shirts, one taking the other’s place when the other’s too filthy for a kid to hug.

My agimat remains a tale told whenever my family is in the mood to reminisce on things from the past. It highlights my one of my quirks as a child and it never fails to make everyone laugh including me. I’m just happy that autism wasn’t a big thing then as it is today, otherwise my parents would have interpreted my “inappropriate attachment to an object” as a sign that something psychological is wrong with their second child.

Of course quirks such as this are a part of me. I would love to say that I’ve outgrown them but somehow I feel that they’re still there. Like my agimat. I’ve lost Dad’s two worn-out shirts but I still seek comfort from material things that remind me of assuring thoughts. Thus explaining my packrat tendencies which I swear I’ve been trying to overcome. (Space constraints.)

On a final note, I guess we all are entitled to our own comfort blanket if it does make us feel safe. Ate Vi has her hanky. People think it’s cute. Get yours and who knows? People may find it cute on you, too. (Like the cute part matters.)

(Notice that I’m talking to myself. Perhaps I really am autistic!)

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