Saturday, 11 May 2013

Childhood

People reminiscence about their happy childhood so often. They actually want to go back to that time period of their life. I, on the other hand, always thank my star that I am no longer there.

I wouldn't call my childhood particularly bad. I was not abused, I was not beaten and I did not starve. But I did have a peculiar family. Different from any one in the neighborhood. We weren't poor but we were the poorest in our neighborhood. We were the last one to buy everything. We were the last ones to buy a scooter (never bought a car), to buy a colour TV (never had a VCR), to have a telephone, we didn't go to the best schools etc. You get my drift. We were the bottom of that status ladder.

And then there was my family, My dad really didn't like to socialize much which meant we were never invited in any neighborhood socializing events (I watched/heard them having fun through the window/door of our apartment and hear them discussing it the next day). My brother never did academically well. He gave up studies after 12th std. which was a huge scandal in our academic-oriented small town and particularly in the university campus I grew  up  in. But it was more than social status and social isolation.

My brother ran away from home three different times. For months we didn't know where he was. He eventually did return home every time. He is about a decade older than me. When I was struggling to walk, he was riding a bike with confidence. He was the coolest person I knew when I was growing up. I would try to copy everything he did. Those disappearances were not easy for me to handle.

My mom attempted suicide at least four times in my memory. I remember one particular time when she swallowed pesticides and was rushed to the hospital. My dad and brother went along. I was about 11 years old, all by myself sitting in the house mandir for the whole day, not knowing what's going on. She survived each time. Thankfully.

My dad threatened to leave us and go away at least 5-10 times in my memory. I do not remember the reason why he did that but it scared me the worst. Thankfully, he never followed it through.

One of my recurring nightmare was that all my family is gone and I am left by myself. My biggest worry growing up was if that ever happens, how would I finish my school education? I couldn't have become independent unless I finish my school. I couldn't have gotten a decent job anywhere without proper school education.

As a teenager, I got introduced to competition magazines like GK Today and competition success review. I got my parents to subscribe and would finish all the published question papers beginning to end every month. I was very certain that if I pass my 12th grade, I will be able to pass the bank clerical exams in my first attempt (it used to surprise me to hear that people actually fail that exam. I used to score up to 90% in those exams). I was fairly certain that if I could finish my college degree, I can easily clear Bank Probationary Officer's exams. So I was very glad when I finally reached my 12th grade. All those years of uncertainty was finally gone.

I am now in the third decade of my life and I still sincerely do not wish to be that little girl again who just wanted to finish her school education. Somehow, anyhow.

So yes, I do envy you if you are one of those people who would love to go back to their childhood but I do not want to go back to mine. However, that childhood did shape up rest of my life. It made me a dedicated student. It made me fiercely independent. It made me a hard worker. It brought me where I am so I do not lament it.

P.S.: I struggled to decide about whether to put this on a public space like blog. This stuff belongs behind the closed doors of a psychiatric session. However, the beauty of pseudonym and less follower is that may be I can get away with this.  I hope.

7 comments:

Psych Babbler said...

Thanks for sharing. You're obviously very resilient because you have managed to take something out of the difficult childhood you've had. It's not easy having a parent with possible mental health difficulties. As you said though, in the end it shapes who you are today as a person. But I can totally understand why you wouldn't want to go back to your childhood days...

Tuhina Mahan said...

Thanks PB! Not sure about being resilient. I do have quite a few issues too that I am trying to deal with, slowly and rationally. My childhood did shape up bad parts of me as well. But I have finally accepted them and are now dealing with them. Hopefully, I will succeed in the end...

Aravindh said...

I'm really sad that you had to go through so tough a time. I can sort of empathize because my family had a history of addiction and some abuse.

I'm glad that you seem to be a resilient and good person now, from what I can see from your blog. All the best for your future.

Tuhina Mahan said...

Thanks Aravindh and welcome to the blog! :)

Guess time is the best healer...

Anonymous said...

I relate. My childhood was terrible too- even though i wasn't abused or starved: it was terrible because of a host of things,all of which belong behind closed doors, but I understand two of the points u mention very very deeply- social isolation ( brought on by a father who is the most comfortably isolated person ive ever seen - never went out anywhere, took us anywhere, or perhaps the most painful of all, allowed us to go anywhere- so that meant that in all the years of schooling and college, there wasn't a single birthday party i'd attended, or a single one that i'd thrown - never, ever went around for a casual playdate or in later years, 'hanging around' and was too terrified to call anyone over because of the poor conditions in which we lived- though we weren't exactly poor, we certainly were only just gettin by- bills paid and food in stomach. No TV or other appliances, and towards the end , all furniture disappearing too- paint that had become so dirty it finally felt like one was living in a shanty. No good clothes, ever, to wear for special ocassions at school, so that when the whole school would anticipate and exult at 'colored-clothes' day, id secretly dread them. - All of which affected my behaviour and thwarted my brave attempts at socialising. I had nothing to talk about- no knowledge of TV serials which others watched, no newly aquired clothes to brag about, no places id been to. ) and this in the booming era of just upcoming malls and cafes and multiplexes in kolkata.- not even the slightest conception of what they were like. By the time I was in college, I was this pathetically shy, introverted and awkward girl pretending not to care too much about outings and friends to hide that i couldnt possibly afford them, or even if i were to cobble some money together, I would be explicitly forbidden from going out. (even in an all girls group) and then secretly always paranoid that everyone saw through the facade anyways- poorly dressed and unkempt that I always was. What was painful was that this unkempt and careless look was not natural. I just couldn't afford better.

Vivienne Z said...

Thank you for being so open and honest. It must have been a really difficult time; I completely understand why you wouldn't want to return to it. It's heartening to see you've survived and emerged stronger (partly) due to your circumstances.

Tuhina Mahan said...

Anonymous: I feel your pain. You had added pressure of being in the metropolitan. Things move much faster there and isolation is much more complete. I am sorry that you had to go through that but hopefully it didn't make any permanent mark on you. We can't change our childhood but we can certainly make a difference as an adult.

Vivienne: Welcome to the blog. It was a hard post to write although not as hard as living through it. Life is different now and I am glad for it.

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