By Edmond Yap Kam-Yuan ( Form 5S1 )

You, I and everyone else in this world was once a child. We were of such purity that sparkled brightly below the night sky. We were symbols of purity, naivety and also hope. Our childhood determines who we are today, caused by our experiences when we were little. The memories of the distant past still linger in my mind, reminding me of the happiness, friendship and love that I had when I was little.

I was born in America on 7 May 1998. I lived in the bustling city of New York, where I experienced my childhood. I remember the days when my cousins, sister and I did fashion shows in our house by storming down the catwalk in any clothes we could find and gave big smiles and laughter to our families.

'Chimpanzees' seeing the world upside down!
Back then, I lived in a three story house with my father, mother, sister, uncle, aunty and also my cousins. We had adventures every day inside and outside of the house. We always went to the playground near our house and played there. My cousins and I always hung ourselves upside down on the metal bars and waited for the ice-cream man to pass by to buy ice cream on a hot summer's day.

Sometimes, I drove my mini car with my sister along the walkways. We chased each other on bicycles and roller skates, too! It always brings a smile to my face as I think back of the distant past. If I was naughty, my mother would punish me by making me sit at a corner and look at the wall to reflect on my behaviour, and I would succumb to my inner guilt and apologise to my mom, until now I can still remember that feeling of being 'timed-out' by my mom.

Enjoying the sunlight of Autumn
Right here when the strong winds are blowing, I would close my eyes and time would fly back, reminding me of the windy mornings during autumn, where the maple leaves turned red and brown signaling the approach of winter.

Snowball fight!

I remember the first sight of snow as I walked home with my mother. The first drop of snow on my palm made me feel so delighted that I would shout out with triumph and boast to my mother. In our childhood every simple little thing could bring endless amount of joy to us.

Once when I was in Chicago in December, I had the adventure of a lifetime learning how to build my first human-sized snowman with help from my beloved uncle, Douglas and my sister, Esmie. We played with snowballs and made tonnes of snow angels. That was the fondest memory which I would always hold dear to after leaving America to come back to our homeland, Malaysia.

When I was five years old, I went on a school field trip with my friends to the countryside and an animal ranch. It was the most beautiful scene that I had ever experienced that lingers in my mind till now. When I closed my eyes, listening to my favourite song, time flows back and a sense of nostalgia filled up my injured heart, giving me the courage to move forward. During our field trip, we were accompanied by our parents. So, my beloved mum was there with me. She started to sing some children songs and everyone on the bus sang along and that was one unforgettable moment which I would always treasure!

My best friend, Anthony liked to eat carrots a lot. He kept eating them along our ride to the countryside and sometimes, I would imagine him turning into a rabbit! Soon, we arrived at our destination. We took a short walk enjoying the scenery there, the gentle breezes of the warm winds, the rustling of the red autumn leaves and the chirping of sparrows lifted up our tired souls. We saw horses, cows and chickens, too. A forest ranger was also there and he slowly explained and showed us the animals in the ranch. He even took out a snake from a bag and everyone jolted up and started to panic but he calmed us down and said that the snake was friendly. He called us to come to the front to touch the snake. I was reluctant but eventually I mustered all my courage to touch the scaly body of the snake and my fears faded away. Others were still afraid, so I felt triumphant to be the first to conquer my fear!

On another occasion, my cousin and I were playing basketball back then, but I was too short to shoot the ball. She helped me onto her shoulders and I made my first successful basketball shot. We were so happy and got unbalanced. I ended up falling head first on the concrete floor. BANG! And I started crying due to the immense pain. My cousin felt guilty and hugged me while we cried together. We were so naïve back then that it would make me smirk when I think about the past.

During Easter Day, my mum would bring me to her friend's restaurant that was having an event. My sister and I with a lot of other kids went upstage to find the hidden candies. The candies were all scattered across the stage covered by cotton. We had a hard but fun time collecting the candies. I had a bagful of candies but then the plastic bag tore and all the candies came pouring down. The other children saw it and took the fallen candies while some helped me pick them up. I was in awe and started crying but was grateful to the children that gave me back the candies.

During summer holidays, all of us would go up to Chicago to visit my aunt there. We would run around the house and catch fireflies at night. The fireflies lit up my world as I walked out of the house. We caught fireflies gently and put them in a jar bringing smiles and giggles to our faces. Then, we would release them back to the wilderness when it started to get late. Once when I was in Chicago in December, I had the adventure of a lifetime learning how to build my first human-sized snowman with help from my beloved uncle, Douglas and my sister, Esmie. We played with snowballs and made tonnes of snow angels. That was the fondest memory which I would always hold dear to after leaving America to come back to our homeland, Malaysia.

I still remember celebrating Christmas in America. We had Christmas together with friends and relatives and received a lot of presents, but I learned that Christmas was not about receiving the gifts but giving the gifts to someone you love. I got a pack of playing cards and a ‘Power Ranger’ figurine. I was so happy that I jumped and shouted in triumph thanking my uncle and aunt for the presents. My mum gave me a big warm hug and a ‘Power Ranger’ watch which would always be of sentimental value to me, even till today.

During the days that I was growing up in New York city, I experienced the worst memory ever on September 11, 2001. That day, I was watching my favourite cartoon ‘Barnie’ when suddenly I heard a gigantic rumble and the ground shook. I screamed my lungs out and my mother ran into the living room as fast as she could and hugged me tightly. Then, the cartoon show was interrupted by news report about a terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. I was very naïve back then and asked my mother what was happening but she did not say a thing as tears welled down on her face. She held me tighter and whispered to me, ‘Everything would be alright.’ And I replied, ‘I would protect you mummy!’ After a long while, my mum told me about the incident and tried to explain to me that I might not see my father again and the feeling hit me with awe. And as an innocent child, I started to cry with no inkling of what was happening!

My father was working in the city when the attack on the World Trade Centre happened. The phone line was cut off and so we could not contact him and had to leave him to faith. Later that night, he came home safely. We were so relieved and cried with joy! My parents talked a lot during dinner that night but I was too young to grasp what they were saying except hearing and picking up some words like ‘bomb’, ‘people’ and ‘dead’. The tearful memory of that day lived in my mind and sometimes haunted me in my dreams. Thus, with this awful experience, I grew up learning to always trust God and hold my loved ones dear.

Everyone has their childhood days, no matter how bad or good they were. From my point of view, our childhood days construct who and how we are today. It builds an important foundation for our personalities and also our decision-making skills. The most important part of my first six years of childhood was spent in a different country. I grew up in a different country and experienced a lot of different things which, in turn, made me who and what I am today. As far as I know, I am very grateful for the childhood that my family, relatives and friends had given me. I learned a lot of important lessons while growing up in America that only I can fathom, and I am deeply and forever grateful for them. I would forever cherish those memorable and unforgettable memories deep down in my heart.