For the fourteen years that I spent in my motherland, Taiwan, I explored every nook and cranny and just like the curiosity exhibited by a kitten so was mine profound. I didn’t enjoying trekking, it simply wasn’t my style: my trademark was skateboarding. With my skateboard, I could penetrate small and dark alleyways because time wasn’t a determining factor but another issue was a determining factor: territory. I, an experienced skateboarder, didn’t give a toss and it was my least worry.
I enjoyed the thrill of engaging other skateboarders in a cat-and-mouse chase when I trespassed on their territory. I knew that if they lay their hands on me they could beat and leave me for the dead: but could they? They couldn’t unless I let them do intentionally. They couldn’t surpass my skateboarding skills and they cursed their folly.
Come youth competitions that were organized by the youth, albeit with the authority banning skateboarding, I triumphed: I always emerged the top. To cap it all, the females who were more of admirers than spectators, cheered enthusiastically and it would be a bolt out of the blue if there were all love struck with me. Another skateboarding competition came and went and it was a norm, no one could edge me out of the top position.
The night cat-and-mouse chases that happened when I trespassed on their territory went took a new level: the number of skateboarders who chased me increased twofold. They came up with new tactics to ensnare me but I hatched a salvo of new maneuvers. When I found out they lay stones on the shortcut that I used to take, I changed course and used another way that passed right through their homes, right on the doorsteps of their houses, right under their noses. Anyway, didn’t the sages say that a shortcut is always a wrong cut?
No matter how much I tried to put the mere to back of my mind, I had a premonition that one day, in one way or the other; I would drink to the dregs of my habits. The much I knew about the day that was yet to come was that it would have all the hallmarks of the preceding days and nothing would give it away.
However, no matter the warning in my head and the scope of danger that I was putting me into, my night expeditions went on as usual, undeterred. I wish some someone had zapped me with a clue for what lay in store for me, for that day I dreaded, finally came. It was a fateful day. I tried to reconnect skateboarding with the issue and at a loss, I found no evident relation but there was one thing that up to even know I do: I give scant credence to coincidence.
Graffiti has been made illegal in many if not all countries worldwide. The reason behind under the cloak of night, the graffiti artists paint on someone’s wall leaving the owner to devise means to erase the painting. It is said that these graffiti artists are like night runners, hardly seen and when seen barely known or caught. I have a soft spot for graffiti and I am a silent sympathizer of these artists who paint graffiti with one eye cast over their shoulders.
A word about my night expeditions reached my parents and I had to sneak out of the house to avoid their curious eyes. Even though skateboarders hardly put on protective gear, it’s of great significance to protect one’s body. I never failed to put on my protective gear: a helmet, knee pads, mouth guards, elbow pads, shin guards and ankle brace. However, that night, in my haste to a sneak out of the house, I forgot my skate pads.
As usual of every night, I ventured into my expedition, nothing loathe. Same too, I did on other nights before I engaged the other skateboarders into a chase, I surveyed the shortcut that I would take and my predictions were made true: the way was strewn with stones. Then, I went and stimulated the chase. As the skateboarders treaded hot on my heels, I took the longer way, passing through their homes. I gained speed and created a yawning gap between them and me. The labyrinthine maze of ways could confuse an eye but I was a veteran: I knew the ways like the palm of my hand.
I had neared the end of the other skateboarders’ territory when I bumped on graffiti artist putting the final touches of a graffiti painting of me skateboarding. Unfortunately, he hid himself before I could recognize him (Thomas).Don’t they all do? The graffiti was such a breathtaking painting that I forgot about the chase. I was admiring the painting when excited shouts of the other skateboarders echoed through the night. I tried to take off, of which I did but before I could gain speed, they right behind me.
Panicking, I veered off the way and hit on a nearby wall head-on-collision. Then, everything else went dive dark. I drifted into unconsciousness. Two days later, I surfaced from my unconsciousness in a hospital but I was nipping in and out of consciousness. However, once when I had surfaced, I had heard the doctor talking to my mother, “the boy needs advance treatment in America and I would recommend a hospital in New York called…” Two days later, my parents and I boarded a flight to America where not only did I get treatment but also schooling.
Thomas, Larson. The memoir and the memoirist: reading and writing personal narrative. Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2007.