My Araby Experience

Once again, I’m going to post my journal entry for my Literature subject. This time, we are tasked to write a letter dedicated to ourselves that includes our Araby experience. Araby is a short story written by James Joyce. But it is more than just a story title or a place. Araby is a metaphor for the transition of ideal to reality. With that, here’s my Araby experience.

Dear 16 year old self,

You live in a province that is all relaxing and peaceful. There are no hustle sounds from cars and buses or noise from people. There is no polluted air like here in the city. Your place is small that everybody knows everybody. You spend your time staying in your neighbors who either have a backyard wherein they can take care of their chicken, pigs and dogs or garden wherein they can plant ornamental plants and vegetables. You are able to eat fruits, vegetables and meat daily that are still fresh. Every night, you won’t see people scattering around the town because they are home early. But every Sunday, the whole town is in church celebrating the Eucharist.

However, people there are so conservative to the point that your school have a no boyfriend/no girlfriend policy in the handbook. Do you remember when your teacher pulled you out from an organization just because a guy, who was linked to you, was also a member? Adults only allow you to have a boyfriend after you graduate college. They make you believe that a simple kiss with a guy will make you pregnant. You are also not allowed to go out with clothes showing your belly button, legs and cleavage. Controversial issues such as gender marriage, abortion, early pregnancy are always frowned upon. When someone is involved in these issues, for sure, they will be the talk of the town for a month or more.

Being a small town girl, you grew up being the good girl. You respect your parents and other elders. You get high grades in school. You go home right in time. You serve in your church. You never drink alcoholic beverages or smoke. You seem to be contented and find no problem with these restrictions because you were born and you grew up with these beliefs.

But I know that you envy me because you think that I’m having a good time here with the tall buildings, prestigious schools, wonderful establishments, shopping malls, big cinemas, nice restaurants, delicious food and such. You’re excited to step into college to witness all these and to experience city life. You do not know that living here will bring you to the reality of life.

When I first came here in Manila, I was excited to meet new friends, to go to malls and cinemas, to try dishes that I’ve never seen before and to roam around the city. But after a few months, I was getting homesick because I miss my family, my friends and my life there. I was starting to get annoyed because people here are so different from the people I used to be. Every day, I wake up in a warm and polluted air. Before I reach school, I will first encounter busy streets and heavy traffic. In here, crimes are committed frequently and snatchers are everywhere.

But most of all, I’m surprised with the things I learned here. It’s not true that girls will get pregnant in a simple kiss. After a kiss, it takes lots of steps before having a baby. I see ladies walking down the streets who are wearing crop tops, plunging necklines and short shorts. Young girls already have their respective boyfriends. People of my age know how to drink alcohols and smoke cigarettes. And worse, they party all night with opposite-gender friends and strangers. Gender marriage, abortion and early pregnancy are also controversial here but people here are more open-minded when it comes to these issues.

Experiencing the city life, you and I became different. Now, I have the guts to disobey my parents. There are times that I do not make my school requirements just because I’m feeling lazy. Sometimes, I go home late and sleep in my friends’ house without the knowledge of my parents. I know you are going to judge me but I didn’t regret being a bad girl in your eyes because in this way, I became mature, independent, open to controversial issues, understanding to different types of people and free from innocence. I am able to decide on my own because I’m not stuck on the belief of others. I learned that the attitude of a person can’t be measured by his clothes, by his vices and by his choices in life. I love the way I am now because I am living in the reality of life.


20 year old self

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