If Only I Could Turn Back Time

This particular story of regret was summoned into mind again when I met Pampu, who looks so much like my late best friend, on the mountain trails of Mt. Manalmon in Bulacan province last 12 February 2012.

Pampu & Me

Twenty years ago, I was this young and naive boy. I did awful things to animals, particularly the frogs. These frogs brought the worst of my childhood because of what I did to them. I toyed them; I maltreated them. Until, I learned from my grade school science teacher about their role  in balancing the ecosystem, not to mention protecting us from the lurking perils of dengue fever. Since then, I made a vow to make up for all the horrendous things I did to those helpful creatures. I refrained from putting big stones into their holes. I started educating my playmates on their positive impacts to the environment. I began appreciating the beautiful music they make after a long, heavy rain and, above all, I defended these frogs to my playmates who refused to stop toying them.

If there’s  one person who knows about my love to animals, it would be my uncle (Ollie)–not my father–and whose house was just standing right next to ours. My father’s obliviousness on the term animal love doesn’t bate my love for him though. He’s just not familiar with it I guess.

Days passed by so quickly unnoticed. Skitter, my best friend, had grown bigger than expected for just months of being with me, with us. I fulfilled my responsibilities as best friend to her and vice versa. Skitter never failed to greet me each time I woke up in the morning and every time I came home from school. She never touched any food on the table unless served to her mouth. She never forgot to go outside the house to answer the calls of nature. She never missed to bring a smile on my face especially during bad days. That’s just a few of the many things she did for me, for us. Everyone in the family was nice to her because it’s been quite a while since there was “a man’s best friend” in the house.

Summertime rolled in and Skitter and I couldn’t be happier because of one thing: I’d be spending two straight months with her. The thought of being able to bring her to the green fields to play and to the river to bathe together everyday if possible is just a piece of the many exciting things that may happen in our first summer together.

A couple of weeks after, my elder brother, Tom, who was studying in Manila, went home to spend his summer vacation with us. It was, of course, something to be convivial about too considering that he’s been away for some time.

Things went pretty fine. Tom helped me take care of Skitter; we also got busy catching up the lost times.

Like every story, this joyful summer came to an end. Tom and I had to go back to school just like the rest of our siblings, and I had to limit my time in seeing Skitter again. I thought it will end plain and simple as that, but it didn’t.

A day before Tom went back to the metropolis, I got trapped in a situation I had never imagined would cause one of my biggest regrets. It was eight in the morning that day when my father approached me, while I was reading one of the books I borrowed from the public library, and directly said, “I already sold Skitter for three hundred and fifty pesos. The money is with me now. I’m sorry.” My ears suddenly passed into coldness upon hearing those words. The sorry word didn’t bring any sense to me. I wanted to scream but no words came out. I wanted to pulverize the person standing in front but my feet turned numbed as my heart was pounding hard. Then he continued like that wasn’t enough, “The buyer will be here in an hour so please tie her up before he comes. Listen, I know how you feel.” I immediately replied in my mind, “NO YOU DON’T!“, but I was so verbally paralyzed. Finally, he explained, “The truth is, I was just forced to do that because Tom’s vacation here wasn’t approved by your aunt; therefore, producing money for his return trip is my responsibility now. You know how much I’m earning from driving for five days. It’s not enough to send your brother back to Manila.” That explanation, however, didn’t make sense either.  After he looked at my somewhat indescribable reaction for a few minutes, he left for work.

What happened next is something that still pains me much each time I remember it…I turned her in to the buyer because I didn’t have the balls to refuse. I should–for Tom’s sake. I also killed her–indirectly. It was made clear that she was to be butchered for pulutan (Filipino term for a snack accompanied with liquor) on the buyer’s birthday.

Up to this day, I regret that part of my growing up years. In fact, I am still wishing I could turn back time to make things right. On the contrary, I can’t and the things I did cannot be undone so I had to just live with it. To live with the memories of Skitter whom I consider as someone. Someone who taught me the essence of blissfulness, of responsibility at a young age. This way, I am always reminded that animals are as important as humans in the end.

“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable” (Sydney J. Harris).

Photo Source (PS): Agfa Photo eClipse Explorer

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42 thoughts on “If Only I Could Turn Back Time

  1. Sony, this broke my heart – as I’m sure it broke yours when it happened. What happened to Skitter was not your fault. We often wish we could turn the clocks back for certain bad memories, I do it myself. All we can do is go forward giving our little furbabies the love they deserve. It’s the least we can do for all the unconditional love they give us! :)

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    • I was thinking, maybe it’s time for me to have another “best friend”. It’s been seventeen years since I had one solely because I think the memory still traumatizes me. Maybe that will cure it. :-) Thanks, Bonnie for understanding what happened even though you didn’t experience it.

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  2. My stomach hurt when I read this.
    I recalled a terrible mistake I made three years ago.
    Dogs and cats are loved like family in the United states
    (though many are abused behind closed doors) other
    animals are often seen as cheep toys and
    given casually as gifts.

    (The “Exotic Pet business” is putting many wild
    creatures on the endangered species list.)

    A friend of my brother received a small tortoise
    (desert turtle.) from his girl friend, he planned to take
    care of it but had too many problems of his own. He
    sold it to my Brother and I was allowed to keep it for
    him. He trusted me and I was so sure this was
    something I would be able to do.

    The Turtle ate grass and I would leave it on the
    edge of the water when I went swimming – I always
    felt like I shouldn’t leave it alone,but nothing ever
    happened. One day a neighbor’s dog killed and ate
    it. I could have told the dog to go away had I been
    there. It would have been so simple to prevent.

    My brother was told the turtle died of sickness.
    He still says there is a hole in his heart the size of
    Buddy the tortoise. People think it is a very funny
    story, but my brother really loved that Tortoise, he
    would place it on his chest and laugh as it tried
    to eat the buttons on his shirt, it would examine
    it’s food so thoroughly before it stretched it’s head
    out to take a bite. Buddy would have lived over a
    hundred years had he survived. There are some
    that consider a tortoise to be a living good luck
    charm, and a symbol of wisdom and long life.

    and yet there are quite a few in my part of the
    country that eat them. Sauce pincante – Buddy’s
    other name – referred to rice dish made with
    turtle. My uncle once asked me where Bubby was.
    I said it was dead. He laughed and asked me if it
    had tasted good. I thought of how bad my brother
    felt, and that my carelessness had killed his pet. :(
    I wish people would stop thinking it was a funny
    joke.

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    • First of all, I really appreciate your story, rastelly. I felt relieved for knowing that you have a similar experience — though not close. Looking on the bright side, I am sure Buddy is in a safer and better place now. I am one with you on that wish to change people’s misconception of what happened because I also think such will never be a funny joke.

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      • Thanks for reading. I like to contribute
        if I can. If I can’t comment often, I like
        to leave ones that are worth reading
        and help promote disscussion. I do
        not envy what you went through,
        I do not think I could have lived with
        myself after being so imersed in the
        events leading up to the loss of a
        pet. You’re a stroung person.
        Strounger then I’ll ever be.

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      • Thank you, rastelly! You have comforted and inspired me enough. I owe the enlightenment I now have from you and the rest of the other bloggers (friends) who shared their thoughts here.

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  3. In the all the sadness of this story, there is also something very beautiful. You learned something about love, a lesson that have had a positive impact on you later – as well on your surroundings. I think you shouldn’t blame yourself for what happened back then – and know it’s easy to say. All lives are important. Thanks for sharing this painfully memory.

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    • It’s so comforting to read your comment, sir. I could see and feel how much you understood what happened. I agree that what happened is a blessing in disguise. I would probably be mistreating “them” had that incident in my life didn’t happen. ALL LIVES ARE IMPORTANT is such a powerful statement. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. I’m so sorry for your loss Sony. I must admit that this post moved me to tears. I know that this had to be one of the most difficult posts for you to write. Yet, I also know that it took a tremendous amount of strength and courage for you to share your story. That being said, you can’t possibly blame yourself Sony. I wholeheartedly agree that this is a very regrettable situation, but I wouldn’t blame yourself for something that you did not fully understand, or was beyond your control.

    We may not be able to turn back the hands of time Sony, but we will always have the future to look forward to. I believe that animals have souls. In the end, I believe that we will be reunited with our beloved pets. I personally find peace and comfort in knowing that. I hope that you do too Sony. :)

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    • Sony,

      For some reason I cannot leave a reply expect by clicking onto someone elses comment. I was deeply touched by your story of regret. I hope that by sharing healing results. It sounds as though this wound runs very deep in your soul(understandably so.) Forgiveness is a powerful tool.
      Thank you for sharing.
      Paige

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      • I appreciate the effort, “diggingher”! (I tried to look for your name but I didn’t find it.) For the past three weeks I had a similar problem on sending comments. Anyway, I agree with you here. Healing was actually the result of sharing the story. Actually, I hesitated to share it; howbeit, I’m glad I did.

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    • Donna, your words moved me. I couldn’t be more thankful for all that you said. I do believe that we will be reunited with our beloved pets. By that time, I know things will be better. Thank you so much!

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  5. Awww Sony. A tough story to write and a tough situation for a young boy. But now you are a man with a beautiful wife and a handsome young son. Knowing your heart a bit from what you write here on Wandering Feet, it would be a different story today I am sure. And I know your son is growing up with a love for all living things and the beautiful land around him.

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  6. I read it twice, it is not because I don’t get it but there are memories keep on coming back from me which interrupt in my reading it, just like you I am wishing often times if we just can bring back times I have so many things wanted to do, but we can’t, the important things you learned something from it, it is not your fault maybe it is needed to happen…

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  7. I really feel sad about your story bro,. You know what?, If you have just a choice then it will not happen good thing skitter is there to bring back Tom in Manila.She provides the way and maybe it was destined to happen..Don’t dwell on that hurtful feelings bro..=)

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  8. Sorry to hear about your past. I too have my own share of regrets but I can no longer go back and current them. One think great though is we have today to try to make amends, to make sure it does not happen again and that tomorrow will be better. There’s hope to all things for as long as we are alive. Thanks for sharing a personal story, I know it’s not easy but you poured your heart with courage . Wishing you and your family all the best.

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  9. I always grew up with dogs around and I am still a dog owner today. It’s a very poignant story. That would never happen here in Canada as dogs are viewed in a different way but culturally I understand how it can happen there. It reminds me of a similar story a Filipino friend told me about his dog while growing up in the Philippines. The outcome was equally gruesome but his situation was actually worse because he unwittingly ended up eating his own dog.

    By the way, i find the accompanying photograph to be very compelling.

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    • I’m glad you shared a similar story. That, too, helped. I’d like you to know that eating dog meat is no longer as common as before, at least in our place. Thank you for the compliment you gave to the photograph)!

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  10. I don’t know what you could have done differently in your situation. Perhaps you can at least refuse to be Skitter’s killer? But then we are young we usually end up following what we are told to do. When I was in Elementary grade, we had a white dog that was loyal and gentle, while still a puppy we named her “Cologoy” I think she is a Labrador, she grew up with us and became stocky, a really heathy dog. One day my mother just announced to us that she sold the dog to our neighbor. I did not like that at all and I did not know why my mother sold her, after all Cologoy was a very good dog. I thought my mother needed some money. Later I learned that our neighbor asked my mother if he can buy the dog to become a bantay (guard) to his growing business of cutting and selling slabs of wood. His business site is just next to our house, so I can still see Cologoy everyday, except that she was tied so she will not roam or wander around. I think God let it happened even if it is not to my liking to give me a lesson how intelligent dogs are. Whenever Cologoy see me she never failed to wag her tail as if telling me that she is delighted to see me. Our neighbor’s house was far from us. There are times when they brought Cologoy to their home. I learned that Cologoy was intelligent. It seemed to me that she perceived she was sold and that she now have a new master, she never ran away from them even if they untied her and all those time whenever I come and see her in their house she never failed to wag her tail and acknowledged me as her friend and master in the past.

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