Packing Peanuts

When I was younger, my father sent us a parcel full of books. He did not send us presents that often, so my siblings and I could barely contain our excitement when the brown box arrived. It was huge.

When the box opened, we were greeted by two things: a number of children’s books and lots and LOTS of packing peanuts! I only clearly remember one book and that is one featuring the beloved sponge, Spongebob Squarepants. I remember him so clearly because when I had first read the book, I could make no sense out of it. Spongebob was foreign to me. Heck, had you told me that Spongebob Squarepants is a sponge, the only image I would have had in my head would be of the sponge my mother washes her dishes with. Had you told me that this sponge lived underwater, I would have given it a lot of thought and would have finally come to the conclusion that the sponge that my mother washes her dishes with was originally kidnapped from the seas. In fact, years later when I found myself in the US, sitting in front of the TV and looking at the sponge and crab talking, was I beginning to pull together all the loose strands of the strange book and the strange sponge. But I diverge.

My siblings and I went through the foreign books with their foreign characters and the foreign language that our father had sent for us from overseas, smiling because we knew he had sent us his love in these presents. We read them and we reread them. We were content.

After having read and put away the books, I remembered the box in which my present had arrived. More precisely, I remembered the magical soft small cylindrical things that it had come with. I looked inside the box again and found the things still in there. I touched them, wondering if they were toys that my father had sent with the books. Strange books, strange toys, right? When my grandmother found me poking the things that I was fascinated by, she told me to run and get some water. I ran over to the kitchen and filled up one of the steel glasses that always felt cold against my lips whenever I drank from them and ran back.

After some pinching and coloring with pinks and reds, my grandmother showed me her creation. In her hand was a flower made from the strange things that I did not know the name of nor understood the purpose of. We saved those peanuts and made many flowers from them in the day to come.

I remember the colorful flowers whenever I am greeted by those soft white things even today. I would probably still think them strange and foreign had I not known them in their sweet flower form.



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