When I was four, I was crazy about Milo.
One night, we ran out of it. Already accustomed to drinking a hot cup of this drink before going to bed, I was devastated. I cried.
Good thing, my Uncle Leo was there. He tried to pacify me by telling me we’d buy lots of Milo the next day. A truckload of it. I stopped crying. The idea of having that much choco malt drink all to myself also thrilled me, bringing a smile on my face.
He failed to fulfill that promise of his, and he will no longer have the chance to because he’s now dead. I am not mad at him, though.
Not so long after he made that promise, I realized that it wouldn’t be possible at all. A truckload of Milo? Who was he kidding? I knew he just said that to make me stop from crying. Classic Uncle Leo move.
I was a sad child.
My parents separated when I was three. My mother and I left our home after discovering that my father had been cheating on her. We moved to my grandparents’ home, where my uncles and aunts were also staying.
Mama had to leave eventually, since she got a job elsewhere and could not take me with her. Not too long after her departure, though, he met a new man.
When she got pregnant, she decided to leave her job and stay in Bicol instead. It was where the new guy was from, and she wanted to stay there while waiting for her due date.
Of course, that hurt me. Although still very young, I was already aware of what was going on. I was a smart kid, after all.
Many times, I cried because of what was happening. I felt abandoned. Mama was supposed to be with me, but she wasn’t. She was faraway, carrying a child that wasn’t my father’s, making plans that didn’t include me.
The night I cried over Milo was not the only night my Uncle Leo tried to keep me from shedding more tears. In fact, I already lost count of the times he calmed me down and made me smile instead.
Uncle Leo was known in our family as the funny one. He liked cracking jokes and making puns. He was the cool uncle, too, always buying us toys and treats when we were kids.
He tried to give me a normal childhood despite the circumstances. Although I was forced to grow up fast, he gave me a chance to feel like a child.
Of course, I still feel sad whenever I look back on my childhood. What I had to go through at a young age has scarred me so deeply and up until now, I am still dealing with a lot of issues that stemmed from my troubled past.
Yet, I can still say that I have nice childhood memories to treasure. Most of them involve my dear Uncle Leo. All those Christmas Evenings he pretended to be Santa Claus, secretly leaving us presents so we’d wake up on Christmas Day with our stockings filled with gifts. All those jamming sessions in which he’d play Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and try to copy the different voices in the song. All those afternoons he’d play with me and my cousins. Memories as such give me the assurance that although I was different, I had several chances to feel normal.
Although he didn’t buy me a truckload of Milo, I still love Uncle Leo and I will always think of him so fondly. And now, as I descend into another phase of Milo madness, I vow to remember him in every cup of this sweet, sweet drink.