I had an inkling then I was a late bloomer. Kids of my age in the neighborhood grew taller and faster than I was. I couldn’t catch up with their adulthood mischief. I thought then their truancy and escapades were so cool. And I regret I was never invited to join them because they thought I was a sissy and small. When I was circumcised last, that was the last straw. I confirmed I was a late bloomer.
Most of the boys in the neighborhood got circumcised when they were in Grade 4 or 5. I had mine when I was in Grade 6. I was so anxious to have it done, never minding the fear and the pain.
I was so envious when my cousins and my rascal friends, Tabog and Pepit showed off their pecker and hated when they teased me as “supot”. There was a stigma of shame in that. You don’t want to be branded as such.
As I was anxious to get it done, every time I saw Gara, a Jueteng bet collector, moonlighting as “circumciser”, I would ask him to check my pecker. And I would feel disappointed when he said, it needed more growing. Exercise it to make it bigger. How? I asked. You have to peel off that outer layer pushing it inward until the helmet showed up. What helmet, I asked. The “burat,” silly, he said.
Every day I exercise my pecker as was told. During my summer break of Grade Six. I showed my pecker to Gara. Hmm, he said, impressively. Okay, prepare my “Kingscup,” that’s his smoke, for his payment, and make a dressing – a square of cloth with a hole in the middle according to the size of your pecker. I’ll see you at the Irrigation Canal together with the other kids.
We were four, the other three were younger. We were asked to get naked and soaked ourselves for an hour at the irrigation canal. I was wondering why do we have to do that?
An hour later, under the shade of a Guava tree the four of us were told to chew the younger shoots the Guava leaves. What for?
Circumcision rites are one of the greatest spectacle in the barrio. It draws a big crowd and make fun of the kids who cry harder and who pass out because of pain.
Gara drew out his instrument for the operation. A glistening barber’s knife and twig of a tree shaped small letter “r”. This is called “batakan”. On the protruded “r” the foreskin covering the head of the pecker is snugly fit into it.
I was the first one to be operated on. Two of the spectators took hold of my arm and sat in front of “r” shaped twig. Meanwhile, I was still chewing that shoots of Guava leaves. Gara snugged my pecker to the “Batakan”.
Are you ready? My eyes were closed. I felt like quitting. But then this was I had been waiting for. I felt the edge of the knife touching my skin. I felt the pressure. The knife went deep and made a slice. It was so painful! I cried out loud. The crowd were jubilant.
Now spit the Guava leaves onto your pecker. Gara said, then he dressed up my pecker.
Gara’s last instruction was: I should not look at girls, as it will make my pecker swollen. I was thinking… How in the world could I avoid looking at girls. I had four sisters in our household. And besides, I didn’t understand how mere looking would cause my pecker to swell.
That was another puzzle for me apart from bathing in the Irrigation canal prior to circumcision, and the spitting of chewed Guava leaves.
My pecker swelled like a tomato.
Two weeks bathing of my swollen pecker with boiled Guava leaves and dress changing, it started to heal.
Not until I was grown up when I was reminded of the process of traditional circumcision method that I found an answer to my juvenile questions. The dipping of the body in the Irrigation canal is a substitute for anesthetic, that didn’t do any good. The chewing of shoots of the Guava leaves and spitting it to the pecker after the cut is infectious. The advice of not looking at girls because the pecker will get swollen is a myth, a cover up for infection that would get to occur.
Today circumcision is painless and easy. How lucky the boys of this now generation.