Over the years, we all accumulate objects of sentimental value – an Open Speech
My early childhood memories consist mainly of foggy, erratic images. I have a few memories from the days of my first few years. Mostly, I recollect watching television and playing games with my younger brother, who is two years my junior. There is one object, though, that has stayed with me throughout my young life, lying in my cupboard in most recent years — my “PO-chim”.
Back in those days, most newborn babies were given a bolster, more familiarly known to the Hokkiens as a “PO-chim”. My parents, being indulgent, had bought me several. Every night, they would place me in my crib and arrange my bolsters and pillows about me. They must have meant well, but for a small child, it was like being surrounded by a forest of cushions. So, I would exhaust most of my energy flinging all the paraphernalia out of my crib … all except for one blue-and-white bolster.
Eventually, my parents got the message. At bedtime, the only bolster placed in my crib was my favorite blue-and-white “po-chim”.
When I finally learned to walk, I set myself to perfecting this exciting new skill. All over the house, I wandered, meandering hither and thither. Nothing could stop me, be it a chair, carpet, door or my parents. And, everywhere I went, so did my bolster, clutched in my hot little fist. Uphill and down dale went my bolster and me, searching for trouble and always finding it.
My brother, as I have mentioned, was born when I was two years old. I knew him for my brother the first time I set eyes on him. Marching to his crib, I plonked my bolster in it and mumbled, “Baby brother also needs ‘po-chim’. ” Of course, I never fully relinquished my claim to the bolster. It had been and would always be mine. My baby brother did not really seem to like it anyway.
Later, as I grew older and stronger, my rough play took its toll on my “po-chim”. Originally three feet long and plump with stuffing, my bolster ended up being almost empty, with one lone foot of stuffing left. The rest had long escaped through the numerous tears and splits in the material. Undeterred, I put half the stuffing at each end of the bolster and made myself a trusty ninja weapon, a nunchaku. I would whirl off in flights of fantasies, imagining myself in ninja warrior, ever ready to attack my brother, father, other, or anyone else for that matter.
Most children grow out of their soft toys and bolster at an early age. I kept my old bolster by my bedside long past the age of ten. I never stopped playing with it, either. The games just got more sophisticated. Once, I built a miniature obstacle course using my bolster as a cable car sorts.
Then, one day, the material just got too soft to be used nay more. I could poke my finger through it without exerting pressure. That night, I placed my bolster in my cupboard and went to sleep, a sad little boy.
For the next few weeks, sleepless night after sleepless night followed. Finally, I gave in and started using the old bolster again. Patching up the hole as best as I could, I returned the old bolster to my bedside.
It did not take long before it happened. One night, unable to handle the job any more, my bolster tore in half. It was a heartbroken and sorry boy who sewed up the tear one last time.
Since then, my bolster has lain in a shrine of its own in my cupboard. I still take the occasional glance at it. It no longer represents pleasant dreams at night for my “grown-up” self. But it does represent something more intangible
That bolster, lying there, had been my first friend, my faithful comforter. It represents my childhood.