My early childhood memories consists 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
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 chair, carpet, door or my parents. And, everywhere I went,
so did my bolster, clutched in my hot little fist. Up hill and down dale went my
bolster and I, searching for trouble and always finding it.
My brother, as I
have mentioned, was born when I as two years old. i knew him for my brother the
firs 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 in 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.
children grow out of their soft toys and bolsters at any 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
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.