Everything was new. Pigments of each and every object were deep, sublimating the whole scene reflected within my eyes into a deliberately colored drawing. Different from the urban areas where objects’ identities were blurred, here I was able to separate the sapphire sky from the snow-white clouds, verdant trees from shadowy buildings and human beings not a mere dot anymore. Ironically, however, I defined this “home” – Mother Nature – as an uncivilized and inconvenient place to inhabit. I was almost certain that Saipan was not a place for me.
The elementary school where I attended was so simple: no trace of bureaucracy or labyrinth which once perplexed parents and children. In my 1st grade class, there was a sense of self-regard within me. I was special in many ways. I was the only one who wore laundered and ironed clothes every day, the only child who could download Pokémon Games on the computer, the only student who used 64-color crayon in art class. Somewhere in my mind, although I wasn’t aware, I looked down on my peers, including my best friend Jake.
Jake was a sportive child. He could whirl his favorite yellow hula hoop not only on his waist but also on his neck and climb hills with it freely. Jake’s studies, however, did not equal his physical agility, a fact that secured my mind. My academics were stellar, and in fact I was the top of my class. My dad always told me that “a fist cannot win a sword, a sword cannot win a gun, and a gun kneels down in front of knowledge”, a proverb that made me proud of my talent. I used my head, Jake his body, and hence I was the superior, I was the better one, I was the one who had the obligation to take care of my poor friend. This unconscious mindset was revealed to me the day before I said goodbye to Saipan.
Once, Jake invited me to his home. I walked to the house bare feet since Jake was doing so. The house was shabby and I was curious that how could people endure such a place? Witnessing the scene, out of sympathy, I decided to donate my robots the day before I leave Saipan. On the day, I visited Jake’s home and called Jake, showing my gifts for him. This should have been the end: I who was capable hand over my toys to my poor friend who could not oven afford a proper shoe to wear, we say goodbye, and I will be remembered as a hero in Jake’s mind. This is the end it should have been!
“Wait”, a single word disillusioned me and time stopped. When I woke up, Jake was running towards me with something in his hand which I could not see clear because of the darkness of the night. “Here” He put the thing on my hand. It was a small cowboy figure toy, Jake’s one and only toy. Simultaneously, something vibrated within my soul, I learned something, I understood something and I questioned myself. “Did I look up to myself as a noble benefactor who helps the weak whom I consider inferior to me?” It was not altruism; there was a self-satisfactory, an attempt to be praised by my parents and my surroundings that I am a good child. What I offered Jake was a one-sided sympathy, a hypocrisy, a concealed arrogance. Jake, on the other hand, showed me that he cherished our relationship, our bond as a true “friendship”. I was wrong all the time since the very inception of our story. Jake was not afraid. Jake was not sad. Jake was not suffering. In spite of knowing that I was granted, perhaps blessed with the most basic needs and fine living conditions that he wasn’t bestowed with, Jake was sincere towards me; he gladly invited me to his collapsing house. Jake was genuinely happy playing with me. His home was small, dirty and dark, but Jake’s heart was big, his motives pure, and most of all, he was bright.
Of course, at that time when I was only six years old, my thoughts were not as clear as it now. There was something I felt, nonetheless, something intangible and ineffable. Now, finally, I can write down in words. Come to think of my childhood in Saipan, literally, never once I saw Jake forgoing his smile. When he gave me his precious toy in exchange, he was truly grateful of our friendship. Jake was positive. Jake loved me.
Today, I will tell my father that knowledge may be powerful, but it is indeed love that triumphs over everything. My childhood story which I hold dear, conveys a message, that transcends dimensions and enlightens us that where there is positivity, there is love, and where there is love, the beauty of our world is unveiled.