Memories; part 4

Having parents who don’t want to acknowledge you as their child has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that you learn to be self sufficient at a very early age. You learn to amuse yourself,you ed if you hurt yourself ,you pick yourself ,dust yourself and get on; knowing that no one will be there to hold your hand or kiss it better.
All lesson which are useful in life, they helped me then and now that am left on my own after a very long marriage,I have been able to pick myself and get on with life.
I must have bee about six or so when we left Hyderabad,my father was posted to the northern part of India, I left my grand parents, who were the only company I had, my best friends who lived across the road. It was painful and sad. As a child I was excited to go to a new place,though heart broken to leave everyone and everything familiar behind. That was the last time I saw my grand father too.
So we arrived in the northern city of Gorakhpur. We had a house and an army of servants provided by the department my father worked for and there was a car to meet us at the station.
North of India is so different from the south of the country where I grew up.
People spoke differently, the food was nothing like what we were used to,and the weather was extreme,from the temperate climate of the south, we were plunged into the northern winters and blistering summers.
And now my solitary life really started.
I had my own room,my parents were very busy socialising, meeting and greeting and attending/giving parties. My mother spent most of her time reading library books, beautifying herself and organising parties almost everyday.
A tutor was hired to teach me maths.
I was taught Urdu by my mother and English by my father.
They were strict but good teachers.Father was very keen on the right pronunciation and grammar, though he had no patience! If you pronounced a word wrong more than once,he will dig the point of pencil in my hand till it drew blood.
I quickly learnt to learn and speak English properly.
I never had proper schooling, I never knew why,I only went to a convent school when I was five or so , and then it was just various teachers at home, and my parents always said that though I was “bright” but had no interest in learning, perhaps that is why they considered it a waste of money send me to school.
Though the was full of books, newspapers and magazines, a lot of them were European,like the “Life International’, Colliers and Argosy, both my parents were avid readers.We also had radio and listened regularly to politics and current affairs.
I just had very basic knowledge of Urdu and English,but I started reading, hesitantly,joining words together and trying to make sense of them. Slowly but surely I could read fluently. My parents encouraged that, we were members of the local library and the servants will be dispatched to the local library to exchange books. I was a fluent reader in Urdu, but my English was still very basic.
I remember reading all the translations of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, I had a mental picture and familiarity with the fog bound London of horse carriages, that he described so vividly.
We also had periodicals magazines in urdu,and I loved reading them all.
I hated maths though, the master was a beady eyed,mean looking emaciated old man. Who shouted and punished and complained bitterly about me to my parents,and got punishments from both sides.
I never learnt did much maths,and am still rubbish at it, thank God for calculators!
But my son has a first class degree from Oxford in maths, then he did his MA and PHD in Cambridge in philosophy and is now an author, public speaker and senior lecturer at Cambridge and am so proud of him.
And so I am of my beautiful daughter who is a doctor of medicine and has become a consultant at a very early age.
So you see I might not have had the education,but it gave the spur to encourage my children and give them the best opportunities.
So my day in Gorakhpur will begin with an early breakfast,my father loved his meals, big ,regular and early.
Then my father will be driven to his office, my mother will be in her boudoir and I will be left to my own devices. I will read or go and talk to the servants,or play with their children.
This was met with sever disapproval from my parents, they were really snobbish.
`they told me I was stupid and getting worse by mixing with the lower classes. But never considered the fact that I was lonely and desperate for company which they were not willing to provide.
I had “audience” with my parents only at breakfast or the evening meal.I ate a solitary lunch,as my parents skipped lunch.
The dinners were a lavish affair.
We had two cooks, one who cooked the Indian cuisine,and an “English’ cook who made at least one English dish.There were never less than four or five dishes on the table, plus puddings.
We were all quite rotund!
I think I ate to combat loneliness and neglect. There is no denying that I loved my food.\
We were there for a few years and then we moved to Moradabad.
There our house was in a vast open area,known as the “Police Maidan” or the police compound. Where the police horses were exercised.Vast open spaces.
The house we had was big. Downstairs was the office, where some twenty staff worked, the whole area was covered with a grape vine.
Here my parents had even a bigger circle of friends. collectors,lawyers and police commissioners. They either had a party or out for a party everyday.
I might have been desperately lonely at the time, but I grew up to be a very sociable being.I too love meeting people, and get on well with everyone.
Every cloud as the say…
To be continued.

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