I think being a parent is a hard job. There is no job description but the job is yours! No written rules, you follow your instincts and do the best for your children.
Am sure my parents thought the same, that they were doing the best,for their first born, me!
Only, it wasn’t good enough. My upbringing was a muddle of victorian values and orthodox Asian influences. Throw in a bit of despondency on the part of my parents that their freedoms were curtailed, by having this child,when they have neither planned nor wished for.
To top it all,it was a girl. My mother has set her heart on having a boy, in my fathers image,with his brains.
And I was not very fair skinned. In Indian society, even now; there is a great emphasis on aethetics, how you look and what you have matters a great deal.
It is not un-common to still see matrimonial advertisement where there is an emphasis on the girl being fair and tall. A girl has to fit the mark, doesn’t matter so much about a man, as long as he earns a lot of money,he can get away with anything.
I was handed over to nannies, or Ayahs as they were known. My early memories are of being on my own,I never ever curled up and slept in my mother/fathers arms.I have always remembered my own room,bed,toys and servants to look after me.
I only saw my parents at meal times.They believed that children should be seen and not heard. I was very strictly disciplined. Father was the product of a British public school,and then the army,and mother came from a very strict and devout background.
I do not remember any demonstration of affection ever. Perhaps it was that “spare the rod and spoil the child” I was badly beaten for disobeying,or getting in mischief.
To this day,I cant make out,what constituted mischief in their view.
I do know that my mother didn’t like me, though much later in life; she did say she has made many mistakes where I was concerned,but the warm mother daughter relationship,I used to see in others, and what ;Thank Goodness I have with my daughter,never materialised.
She would take great pleasure in complaining to my father about me,and I will get severe beatings, my father was a strong man,he was part of the Cambridge Blue rowing team and an amateur boxer. he will hurl me across the room,his slaps were so forceful that they twisted me around.
It was strange, afterwards, they would give me a chocolate or try and talk to me, so i almost forgot the pain,but the bruises took long time to heal.
When we lived in Hyderabad and in a joint family home, with my paternal grand father,his second wife,her mother and two of my step aunts,I remained safe.I spent most of my time with my grand parents,and rarely saw my parents.Once we left Hyderabad, when my father was posted to the districts,and we became a nucleus family, the beatings started.
I don’t remember what exactly they were about,but for some reason i could not do anything right,I was not and am not a mischievous person, am timid and lack in self confidence,but perhaps I was a precocious child.
One incident i do remember. My parents entertained a lot, every week there will be at least two dinner parties,lavish food and drink,and they also had their friends from Hyderabad come and stay for these parties.
We were in Warangal then, a big house provided by the department,my parents room was in opposite direction to mine, and on the side was the guest room.But the bathroom was attached to my bedroom.
I must have been 5 or so years old. These friends had their toiletries in the common bathroom. For some reason I was in the habit of squeezing the toothpaste tube from the top,and was always being punished for that.
My mother came into the bathroom and saw that the toothpaste tube of the guests,was badly twisted,she suddenly went into a rage. I had no idea,as I have not touched the thing. Well my parents always assumed that I lied, which probably relieved their conscious and gave them the license to punish me.
Mother went and fetched father,having briefed him on this mis demeanour, before I could say anything,i was hurled across the room and severely beaten, then i was asked to go and apologise to the guests. Who were totally surprised,as it was the lady herself,who has twisted the tube to get the last bits out.
I was given the customary bar of chocolate and told to go and play.
Todays psychologists would say that I must have learnt to associate pain with food to make it better.
Perhaps i did,but I can also spend a lot of time sou searching and reflecting,and that has been my saviour.
To Be Continued!
If my readers want to!