Into the World of Words by I.V Mallari

For the Little Boy, the first year of his stay in the public school was a momentous period of discovery and realization. The sommolent attitude that he used to have towards books was supplemented by one of excited interesst, because he found out to his amazement that words were living things which he could harness as the chariot of his dreams. He learned, to begin with, that words were not merely sounds to be made in the mouth and thundered at the schoolmaster to convince that old worthy that the lesson had been conned. Words, he found out, stood for objects in much the same way as his own name stood for himself. When he called friends’ names, they came to him. When he mentioned the name of any object, the image of that object suddenly became vivid in his mind – as if the mere mention of that word set off a skyrocket which burst somewhere inside of him and revealed the image of that object in the center.

This, to the Little Boy, was of course fascinating enough; but he also discovered that words made characteristic impressions upon the page and produced peculiar sounds when uttered- some gruff, others caressing. He began to think of words as distinct personalities; and,as the years rolled on, they wee to become to him more vivid than the faces of his neighbors. Thus it was that in the years to come, he was to wince whenever people, without compunction and even with a tinge of pride, murdered words singly or slaughtered them in battalions.

It was in these years to follow that the Boy was to engrossed in the far-reaching relationships of words- their strange affinities with one another. He was to discover that, in the world of words as well as in the world of men, the simplest often possessed the greatest power and the greatest beauty; that pompous words often dragged the sentence down in much the same ways as pompous men dragged their countries down to ignominy and defeat.

But to the Boy, the never-ending source of wonder was the power of words to tug at the heart and to challenge the mind. One of group of words combined in one way would tickle the spirit and make it dance to the music of its own creation, while the same group of words combined another way would cause the landscape to waver through the tears.

The Little Boy first the burnt of this power or words when an angry classmate called him a name that seemed to shrivel his whole being and make him recall the havoc that the Unknown destroyer had played upon the Garden. He had been cut with a bolo before. He had been bitten by a dog. He had been whipped by the schoolmaster. But never before had he felt it now. He was too stunned for either speech or actions; and when finally anger came to the rescue of pain, the offender was already too far away for his avenging fists.

He had never thought of words as weapons before, but one lesson was enough for the little Boy. He soon learned to dip these weapons in the venom of the serpent and the asp, or to hide them in the silken folds of other words smooth and glossy. For he was to find again and again that this world of Christianity and brotherly love was full of people who relished stabbing one another’s back with words if not with swords!

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