Memories 9

I have been thinking about my motives for writing my memories. First of all I think there is a lot of hypocrisy in the world,in cultures, especially the Asian cultures. We dare not say anything however gross it may be; in case it tarnishes the family.
A educated middle class family is no guarantee that it has credible moral values.Sometimes poor and un-eduacated people live very moral lives, working hard and living by very values.
Often the cloak of respectability and class hides very dark secrets,and no one speaks out,the fear is “what will people say”, they might say what they want;but it will inspire others to speak out and it will also gives someone like me to examine my own life.
I think I was so desperate to be accepted,to belong; that when I came to England,was married to a “doctor”, (always a matter for bragging), when my parents fell on hard times and contacted me,I was more than happy to embrace them,be the dutiful daughter and provide for them all.
My husband was a kind and generous man,he encouraged me to,and we financially supported them until their death,I do not regret that,but I realise now that in my eagerness to be a good daughter,I never questioned why they treated me as they did,and they never offered an explanation. I few them over to England,twice and they stayed with me for three and then six months respectively.Now I realise there is this rage in me, anger for the way I was treated,and I don’t want to die with it, writing about it makes me look at the events,examine my own behaviour and see if I did something which provoked their wrath, so far I haven’t found any.
How can a little girl be deserving of scorn and constant criticism,as if she was born flawed,and had no right on their affection or approval? I was lonely and un loved and I don’t think any child deserves that.
When I did go that interview and was selected to undergo the training, I came home to find my things outside the door and the family home shut.
A girl of just 17,I didn’t know where to go and what to do. I did go to a distant aunt, who herself was a black sheep of the family,just because she has dared to make a life for herself after her husband abandoned her.She went to college and got herself a degree and got employment,but the self righteous were making all sorts of stories about her conduct.
I stayed with her for three months, that was the time before I started my training. There was a long list of things to get for the training, but Deedi, the social worker from Bombay was constant touch with me,she was and is the older sister I never had.She is a Hindu,but she has always protected me , respected me and supported me. She and her husband were very fond of my late husband too and we visited each other often.
When I started the training,and lived in the student hostel, it was a very happy time. We made friends and looked after each other. We had lectures and training in the hospital,and I got a stipend! I didn’t have to work very hard for it either. considering when I was in Bombay,we were as inmates were often offered work in the homes of one of the rich trustees/managers of the home.I remember often doing this,sitting on ground washing hundreds of plates,after a party ,just to get ten rupees after two days work.
Talk about cheap labour. They could exploit these poor girls who had no where to go,by giving them lots of work for next to nothing. Simply because they were trustees, the pious ones.
Once the training started, another problem arose. One was I had no one to nominate as my next of kin, none of the large and the respected family wanted to be associated with me. How degrading that I was training to be a nurse! Perhaps it was akin to prostitution!
Actually that is what was said about me.
I think it was to justify my parents guilt,or rumours spread by a relative who wanted sexual favours from me,though he was some thirty years older than me, when rejected he made it his life’s work to spread rumours about me,I believe he was a regular visitor t my parents house.
There was the question of a months summer break from training school. While everyone looked forward to it.I dreaded it. I had no where to go. A distant cousin came forward,her husband a very decent man, they invited me to their place. The trouble was they lived in her mothers house,her mother was my paternal aunt. And my father told his sister that if she allowed me to stay in “her ” house ,he will never speak to her. The result was she ordered me to get out of her house one late night,soon after speaking to her brother. A stand off ensued, my brother in law telling her to just consider the consequence of throwing a young girl out late at night, and her saying that other ,her brother’ decision was more important.
I will never forget that, and yet again when she was all sweetness and smiles, once i was in the UK and “respectable”,i always showed curtesy and good manners,I hope she has found peace in her heart for her own decisions.
I do remember that when my parents came to visit, they constantly ordered me about, nothing I did was up to their high standard. They never lifted a finger to help me, while I was running ragged,caring for two young children, home and work. I was just too glad to have my parents with me, that child in me, which has always yearned for their attention and affection,nothing was too much trouble. Though my husband was very perturbed, for the way I was treated.
Those three years of my training to be a health visitor,were marvellous, i was someone,I was liked,my patients loved me and I relished every minute of it. I cant help thinking there always have been and still is a guardian angel who has looked after me. I have been given a chance at every stage in life,when everything else was against me.
I remember when I qualified, i got a first class in my finals. Then came the dilemma of staying somewhere until I got my posting in a primary health centre.
Two long months. It is a horrible feeling to be homeless, not having anywhere r anyone to call your own. I understand the feeling.
I remember once I was posted to a rural centre, the first day I arrived there with my meagre belongings.I had rented a room but had no money to eat. I was sitting in that empty room wondering how I was going to survive, and there was a knock at the door. There stood a postman with a money order for me of 200 rupees, a fortune in those days, from Deedi,as she knew I will not get a salary for at least another month.
Oh the kindness and thoughtfulness of someone who has only known me for a short time.
I started my job and loved every minute of it. Rural and idyllic, where people were poor but had enormous hearts. They took me to their heart, my staff and patient became my new family.
And then as fate might have it I met my husband to be.
I remember, I had a patient, a young woman who was in labour, and was showing signs of complications, I realised that to deliver her at the health centre with limited resources will not be prudent. I asked for the ambulance and took her to the city hospital, which was the protocol.
I remember walking with the trolley into the reception and giving the patients history and details to the receptionist.
i was also aware of being watched. There was a group of young off duty doctors who were sitting around a table playing cards.
One of them, a tall and slim man came over to me and asked me if I was from a certain centre?
Yes ,I said and carried on holding my patients hand and reassuring her.
I hear there is a vacancy for a medical officer there” , he said again.
No’, i said rather sharply and walked alongside the patient who was now being taken to the labour ward.
I thought that was the end of the matter, but was totally blown away,when a month or so later he arrived at the health centre.
Am your new medical officer’. he said smiling!
To be continued.

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