Post a Week: O Best Beloved

What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?

The Elephant’s Child. How the Camel Got His Hump. How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin.

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.

For my eight (or was it seventh?) birthday, I got what I believed was the best present ever. We had just gotten home from the beach (our “clan” travels from the mountains down to the sea every Araw ng Kagitingan because it’s a holiday and all) and there was a thick birthday gift waiting for me. I couldn’t wait to open it.

I don’t remember if I opened the package carefully or if I ripped it to shreds. But I can imagine how I must have ooh-ed and ahh-ed, seeing the thick volume with the green and yellow hardbound cover peeking out from under the wrapper.

I loved that book. I loved the stories inside, far-fetched as they were. Did you know that elephants have trunks because the Elephant’s Child had a nasty tug-of-war with the crocodile by the Limpopo River? Did you know that camels’ humps were originally called humphs but the name was changed so as not to hurt the camels bearing them? And did you know that the rhino’s skin is all wrinkly because a naughty Parsee put cake crumbs in it while the poor soul was bathing (without his skin) near the beach of an Altogether Uninhabited Island?

I know, I know. The stories aren’t real, O Best Beloved.

But they taught me to look at the world with wonder. They taught me to believe in the unbelievable. And they taught me to keep careful watch of my clothes whenever I’m out swimming or bathing.



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