Most of me was built at school. What little is left was either built, albeit shoddily, or broken at home. There was less of the former than the latter. I recently looked through old photographs from my childhood. What's left now is more knowledge than memory of the moments when I felt extreme happiness. Most of them happened in places outside our old house, with folks from school.
I recall one day when I came home from school in sullen spirits. The weather that noon was sunny, with periodic glares and the occasional pinches. Instead of potholes, those painted nails dug out red welts deep into my skin. The living room ceiling did not shelter me from the intense downpour of shouting, name-calling, spanking, and more glaring. All of these did nothing to help my five year-old self.
All these years later, I still have a photograph, taken by a now-forgotten member of the old household, to remember that day by. The scars are gone, but I cannot say if I ever truly and wholly healed. Despite having faded, the melancholy is still clear in those light and tear-glazed eyes.
I have several similar photos, each yellowed memento with their story to tell. Those days shaped me. It's a small wonder that quite a number of people remark that I look different today. They claim that the perceived difference is both physical and intangible; that somewhere along the way, something or several somethings were lost. These people have only seen the good photos - those taken from moments and accidents of sheer joy. Most, if not all, of them were experienced in the presence of people unrelated to me by blood.