Crazy as Me

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Little Prince with Three Sisters

One day when I was about four, my heart was stolen by a broken tricycle abandoned in an alley. It was split in half between the seat and the handlebars. With the one wheel attached to the handlebar, I could have fun all day. I ran until the end with only the one wheel. Until the end of the road I know… .

“Yo-Hwan, Yo-Hwan!”

When the sun set my mom wandered the neighborhood looking for me. When I was into something, I became a child with a lost sense of time and space. That day my mother couldn’t find me in that neighborhood alley. Clutching her scalding chest, she went around the neighborhood multiple times, calling out my name. Even after the sun set and the darkness fell, my mother could not find me anywhere. Crying, she roamed the streets and soon went all the way to the police office in the nearby neighborhood; there she finally found me. Me, not even crying and smiling brightly as I ate the bread the policeman gave me; me, holding the broken tricycle wheel.

Why I kept the broken wheel and did not throw it away, or how I ended up at the neighborhood police office, I cannot remember at all. I only remember very clearly that since I was young, I had to do what I liked or wanted no matter what. I was a very stubborn kid.

I pause for a moment when people ask me, “how many siblings do you have?” It’s because when I say “only three sisters,” the response is usually “I bet you were treated royally.” What kind of parents would raise their child thoughtlessly? Just as there are no fingers at don’t hurt when bitten, all of us grew up receiving lots of love from our parents. When I was born my youngest sister was seven, so I guess the age gap was too great for us to play together. They were too old to find me irresistibly cute, and too young to carry the burden of taking care of the youngest one. Also, perhaps they were a bit spiteful of me since the attention of our parents and others around were focused on me.

There is another reaction to “I have three sisters;” that I probably grew up reasonably femininely. It’s because of the idea that I was influenced to an extent by my sisters’ tastes. People don’t say it just based on their biases on how a boy or a girl should grow up. Seems like they think that I got used to the feminine look without realization as I wore pink t-shirts and flower button-up shirts handed down by my three sisters. But from the outset, I did not join my sisters’ tea parties or doll games. And since there was such a big age difference I did not inherit their old clothes. Moreover, even if I didn’t say anything the household was always uproarious and my sisters never included when they were gossiping. Rather, I was the silent type. I was also the youngest one, but they never sent little old me on errands. In that way my sisters and I lived in two separate worlds.

However, to me my sisters were still essential, precious people. Since both my parents worked, they were constantly busy and the time we spent together was little. As I grew older, my sisters became responsible for my education. Perhaps briefly they harbored childhood jealousy and envy, but when I ran around outside until sunset, my sisters were the ones who sat me down and taught me letters or read me fairytale books. They were at times like friends, sometimes like mothers, and other times like teachers to me. I was a ‘Little Prince’ with three sisters.

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