From letters to words….

I can’t remember when I didn’t play the word game Scrabble. I know that it was during the time when we moved to GSIS Matina…. There, it wouldn’t be a weekend without it.

My maternal aunt, mom’s eldest sister, Leoncia, introduced me to the game that would forever changed my perspective of this world at an early age. It seems that the more one knows about words and its origins, it becomes an advantage. We played our way – Look at the tiles and see what we can formulate, keeping in mind how to connect words diagonally or vertically, find it in the dictionary and learn from it. No bypassing of turns if we can’t find it nor use it in a sentence. If a word one conjured up is there, we play. If not, we look at other options. We didn’t play by the rules. Then again, who did?

We had spelling at school. But what does it really teach? Our English teacher tests us when s/he inscrutably pronounces the word, and we argue that it is not how that word is spelled and get points for it. For example, the word ‘Denouement.’ I remember this because I fought for it and won. She pronounced it- “De-now-ment”… I said it is spelled “De-now-man.” Well, I got laughed off for acting bourgeois by my classmates but the teacher at the end said I was right. I just sat at my desk with my hands together while there was dead silence around me.

Well, my aunt’s 93 now and still going on strong. She can beat me like she used to back then, scraping out words I’ve never heard before to complete a full 7-8 letter word with tiles gone and plus 50 points. There are times when I’d help her find the right places in the board like she used to help me. I believe my highest score was 510+. I had three straight full 7-8 letter word on the board and got the Z and the Q in the triple word score.

As we play and enjoy the game, she would talk about her life with mom, her sisters and other relatives or gossip about someone in the senior living facility on who did this and that. I would ask questions about her early life as a nurse, or what happened during World War II. I ask her how she’s doing. She would raise her voice at me if I wasn’t paying any attention to the board, telling me to hurry up because it was my turn. I don’t really think I have the stomach to tell her to do the same.

When we’re done, we’d play another game. Sometimes 3 in a row. I’d leave her but before I do, I give her peck on the head or a hug and tell her that I will be coming back next week. She’ll nonchalantly tell me, “it’s up to you, whenever you can come.”

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