Memories As A Child

Published: 18th November 2011
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A story about childhood written with all the love and affection I never had for either my mother or father.

It was so many years ago and yet time has not erased the memory of that early morning in New York which allowed me to see for the first time what my parents really meant to me yet before I go in to that; I will start with the following. I was born in New York yet despite having been born in the United States; I spent the first five years of my life living abroad with my grandparents.

It basically being my grandparents who were the first people I got to know. As it was in their care that I spent the first five years of my life with my parents being but people whom I saw from time to time, during their visits or the one time I did travel to New York. This being however but a trip which lasted for a time not long enough that I might hold memories beyond being sick and needing to be rushed to hospital. This due to my having taken a whole bottle of pills in the childish believe that taking my medication faster would bring me back to health faster.

Naturally, as can be expected my theories regarding medicine proved to be erroneous as I quickly learnt that neither the body nor medicine functioned in such a fashion yet much to my good fortune. I was saved from my own naivety as well as the neglect of those who left a bottle of aspirins which I was able to open without much in the way of trouble. This being during the early 70s when child proof bottles which sometimes even presented a problem for adults to open had not been yet created.

My stay in the United States however did not last long and apart from this incident; I have no other recollections of this trip apart from meeting my parents and both my sisters; who up and till then I did not even know I had. Of course with my age being somewhere under five, it would be hard for me to mention much about anything that took place during that particular visit yet it was as if I had visited a family which was not my own. Naturally, I knew the people I was staying with were my mother and father but the fact the they were my parents held no more emotional significance to me than if they had been friends of the family; whom my grandparents and I were spending sometime with.

After the US I went back to the place which I considered to be home. It being there where my parents went to visit me from time to time yet to me their visits held less significance than those whom visited the house more often such as my aunts; who showed far greater interest in me and were generally warmer to be around. This being something I declare based on the emotions I detected rather than anything which was done or said.

As for my parents, they were but people whom I saw very rarely and when I did; it held little importance to me. It also being clear to me that neither one of them cared to spend any time with me yet this in and of itself was of no consequence. This due to the fact that I was not used to seeing either one of them anyway and their being my parents was as meaningless to me as if they had been friends of our neighbors.

As for my father, to be honest there is little in the way of positive or negative which stood out about him apart from his always taking my grandparents and myself to restaurants. As for my mother, in all sincerity she was simply a woman I did not like in the least. It being the way she always seemed to try to make herself the center of attention even if she really had nothing to say of either interest or importance. My mother in fact being what then my vocabulary could not describe as easily as I can now but if I had to pick a few words for her; they definitely would have been vulgar and loud.

My mother being a complete contrast for the worse of everything my grandparents were. As they were soft spoken people, who had a certain nobility about them which my mother and father simply lacked. It was not so much that my grandparents were affluent or even all that extraordinary but they did have a certain quality about them in being people of a certain elegance. This more or less being the last thing I associated with the woman, who was my mother though it does seem odd to me now that I am past the age of 40 and look back upon it as a parent. It being a case that my mother was somebody whom I called by her first name as her being my mother was no more important to me than if she had been a neighbor.

As for myself, it was not a case that I could not understand the emotional significance most people have with their mothers but this was something I had never experienced nor felt any need to. This due to my having had all my needs taken care of by my grandparents though the reality was that it was housekeepers and servants; who raised me. My grandparents serving but to supervise or so it seemed. As the people I was always being left with were employees; whom I also developed no sentimental bound with as they were constantly being changed.

As for my mother, she did have one feature which I did find overly annoying. This being that she would constantly tell me how much she wanted to spend time with me but never could because of all the social invitations she received yet this did seem very strange to me indeed. It being a case that she kept telling me everyday why she could not spend time with me or play with me when I had not even asked her to or even wanted her to. It making me wonder why she felt compelled to justify not spending the time with me that I really did not wish her to. All of which making me think of somebody giving excuse as to why he or she can not sell what nobody is even asking to buy.

My mother’s reasons also being of the kind which even as a child I could see were but excuses. It was clear to me that if she had really wanted to spend time with me, she simply could have refused those invitations yet I never mentioned this to her; as it just did not seem important enough to do so. All of which creating a situation which even in those early years of mine seemed absurd yet from it I could see the kind of person my mother was. A person who was hypocritical and false in a cheap sort of way which tended to include lies even when nobody had asked anything or for anything.

As for the house I lived in with my grandparents, it was not what could really be considered overly large or even luxurious but it was enhanced with a certain beauty. It was a two story house with three large bedrooms upstairs and a separate dinning room-living room downstairs along with a music room. This being most important since my grandmother was a pianist while my grandfather was a violin player. As for the rest of the house, it also contained a large kitchen, garden and patio. It not being as large as it might seem yet there was something utterly nice about it which till this day I have not forgotten and cherish in my memories.

Of course, I could mention Christmases spent in that house along with all those who would pay visits and the times I remember despite not yet having completed six years of age yet it was none of this which made this place special but everything; to make nothing stand out in particular. Was it the place or the people or the way everybody respected my grandparents or the lovely dignified way my grandfather welcomed people? This I will perhaps never really know but some kind of gentle emotions always seemed to be about in what was that house.

Everything however changed one day when I was put on an airplane by my grandparents at the age of 6 and sent to the United States. This a country I had been born in yet knew nothing about as I had spent but a few weeks which my memory held vaguely. Naturally, in all this the English language was also completely unknown to me yet this was not something which I held with worry at the time nor was it why I was being sent to America or leaving the place I had known all my life till then. It really being strange since the reality was that my parents, finally decided they wanted to have me with them yet they perhaps had not counted on the fact that they meant absolutely nothing to me from an emotional or sentimental point of view. It being a case that I could have received news of their death and it would have been as meaningless to me as if it had been a complete stranger yet I was going to be living with them.

Of course in all this I do not wish it to be understood that I was bitter at not having spent all those years with my parents as I did not even know them enough that I might want to spend time with them much less miss them. The words “mother” and “father” holding no more value on to me than neighbor yet my parents were within their perhaps rights and perhaps even obligation to have me with them. This in spite of the fact that it was perhaps too late that I could ever feel anything for them as a child should for his or her parents.

There are days or moments in our lives which we will never forget and one of the ones I will never forget was when I arrived at New York’s Kennedy when I was just 6 years old. The weather was so cold it was like nothing I had ever known before. My parents had brought a winter coat yet when we stepped outside the airport, I asked why the coat was wet yet the fact was that it was so cold that it actually felt like the coat was wet.

It seems strange to me that I was away from my grandparents for the first time in my life yet the truth was that I did not miss them in the least or even think about them or the times we had spent. It was not that I had not been happy with them but for some reason missing people or places was not something I felt. Actually I never even asked when I would see them again or if they could come visit. It actually never even crossing my mind to do so.

In a way my feelings when confronted by my parents were like those of a child who is being adopted by a foster family. It being even stranger for me since nobody not even my grandparents had told me that I was going to be living with my parents. This also being something I did not know, that it was what most children did since I had never known of my parents beyond just a few visits in which they basically avoided me as much as I avoided them. For me it was such an uneasy feeling with my parents that they were trying to show me so much affection and I felt that I did not even know them since the reality was that I did not.

My parents showed me my bedroom which was the place which my mother used as her office. The apartment was small with only a living room (my mother’s office), a corridor, a small kitchen, bathroom and my parent’s bedroom. It was not that it was really that small but I was just used to bigger spaces yet this did not disturb me since I really never cared much for such things even back then in my childhood. My parents also presented me with a lot of toys yet they were all used though this again did not bother me and if anything; I was not really used to playing with toys as I had always preferred other ways of entertaining myself.

I did not speak English, so watching television was a problem yet it was funny how I could watch the same cartoons I had seen before in another language and even remember the dialogs. It being a case that I recognized the images and therefore simply associated them with the dialogs. This even gave my parents the impression that I was learning English much faster than I was when I told them what was being said.

As for my parents, they seemed like vulgar people in comparison to what my grandparents had been. They did not eat together like my grandparents who were my father’s parents and many things about them simply disturbed me though at the time I could not really place my finger on it. They also did not have the same regard for formality as my grandparents which I did not like apart from other things yet I did not feel I could mention these things to them. It not even being something I actually ever thought to do.

Regarding my grandparents on my mother’s side of the family? I would go on to meet her father on a few occasions but no more than the two times he came to stay with us in New York. As for my mother’s mother, she I never actually got to meet and have till this day not seen as much as a photo of her though I was told that her name was Amelia. I also being informed that my mother’s parents had three other children apart from my mother. All of which born outside the bound of matrimony.

As for my parents, I can not claim to have liked either one of them better or worse than the other yet it did not take me long to see that my mother; at least had a certain sense of duty toward me and was more reliable than my father. It being my mother who at least did things for me and though her attempts of affection like hugging me and other such things to a certain extent made me feel most uncomfortable; I knew she could be trusted for certain things of importance to my survival. This while My father on the other hand was somebody whom I could see even at the age of six that he was not one who could or would ever really be useful to me.

As for my parents, it was very often that they would quarrel and scream at one another though over what or who was in the right; I did not know nor did I in frankness care. It being my father, who would ask me to leave the room when they did though to the best of my knowledge their quarrels never went as far as to include physical violence on my father’s part. My father however did tend to be vociferous and very often frightened me. As just about any small thing would seem to upset him while my mother was simply stubborn about certain things. I also had a problem at first with how to address them since I had never actually lived with them but it was soon settled that the names “mama” and “papa” were acceptable to both of them though this was not something I lent any importance to.

In all this one might get the impression that I was closer to my mother than I was to my father yet this would be an errant impression. The truth being that though my mother did take care of me she hardly ever spoke to me not that I particularly even wanted her to. My mother being a person who was either too busy working all the time or watching television. I even remember a particular evening in which I wanted to say something to my mother on the rare occasions when I had something to say to her that she told me that she was busy watching a telenovela and that I could only speak to her during the commercials. She even being most angry at me in her tone as she ordered me to wait for the commercials to speak to her while my father also got upset at me for breaking in on my mother’s TV time. It being at that point that I came to the conclusion that perhaps it would be best if I just did not talk to my mother at all or unless it was absolutely necessary; specially since talking to her was not something I enjoyed all that much anyway.

As for life in my parents house in New York, it was something which I found most unpleasant and strangely enough it had nothing to do with the apartment being small but the fact that I spent all my days in a corridor with my mother working in one room while my father slept in the other. My father being one who slept and required total silence to do so which meant that I could not watch television since the TV was in my parent’s room. I also could not make any noise outside because if I did his screams would not stop for sometime though in all honesty; he never did strike me.

As for my mother, I must say that at times I did feel sorry for her because she did seem to perhaps love me in her own way but I just in all sincerity; could not stand her! Specially when she was tried to show me affection of the kind which included physical contact such as hugs and other acts which at times saw her kneel in front of me. It being with certain disgust that I reacted as there just seemed to be something about my mother which just repulsed me though this I really know not precisely what. Her touches not being what I would call inappropriate in any sexual way but they simply made me feel like I wanted to get away from her as soon as possible.

It happened one morning and like many things in my life; I will also never forget it. I woke up very early in the morning on what I remember as being a Saturday or a Sunday; since my mother did not wake me up to move to another room so she could start work on weekends. I went over to the bathroom as was my habit and after doing what I needed to do; I remember flushing the toilet. It seemed strange to me how I had never noticed the sound such an action made or how loud it was till that moment. As it was then that I heard another one of my father’s screams telling me never to flush the toilet in the morning. This seeming like more of my father’s nonsense and stupidity which I had grown used to and did not even argue against but merely accepted as I had so many other things in the short time I had been living with my parents.

Sometime passed after that morning and another early morning on a weekend came around. I again waking up early and heading for the bathroom where once again I did the things the morning hour required of my body yet just as I was about to flush away what I had done; I suddenly remembered my father’s scream. This prompting me to not flush the toilet yet it was just as I was about to leave the bathroom that I heard my mother’s voice cry out not so much in anger but in wonder “Why don’t you flush the toilet?”. I then answered that it was because my father had asked me not to flush the toilet in the morning.

The answer was one which had more significance than that of the moment as my mother replied “Your father is not even here!”. It is odd how flushing the toilet is such a part of our daily lives that we for the most part do not even think about it and even do it mechanically yet for me; on that day it was an action I will never forget. I flushed the toilet with a relaxation that was soothing yet what had not been said and was never told or explained to me was what I understood. This being that my father had left the house for good and would never be coming back.

My parents had separated and this I saw as such a wonderful thing not to have this man in the house who apart from scream, drink and sleep all day; did nothing. Of course one could think of it as strange as my parents were no longer living together and this meant absolutely nothing to me but relief. I, just being 6 years of age at the time yet the reality was such that I cared so little about it that inquiring as to why my father had left or how long he would be gone or if he would ever be back were things which never even entered my mind. In all this, I would also like to point out that just like I never asked anything connected to my father’s leaving my mother also never took the time to explain to me what she either could tell was of no consequence to me or what she perhaps did not really want to.

Looking back on it, it does seem so peculiar to me that so many young people worry about their parents staying together yet that was not the case with me. As for my parents, I simply figured even at that age that if they were not happy being together than what was the point for them to be together? I never getting notions that I might have caused their breakup for what could my mere presence have done that caused problems between the two of them if they had been so solid in their relationship.

Of course in all this I have taken in to account that it was easy for me to be so much at ease with my parent’s break up considering the above mentioned factors yet I always wondered why so many people that age suffer so much simply because their parents no longer wish to be together. I seeing their break up as their business as well as something which was not for me to either approve or disapprove of and though this may sound most convenient. It was not something which affected me in the sense that I would have to suffer from want or need therefore simply meant nothing to me as I learnt from an early moment in life that at the end of the day; people are good when they are useful.

In all this I also gathered that it is parents who owe their children something in life and not the other way around. They after all are the ones who brought their children in to the world and are responsible for them and should give them everything they can so they will be happy as well as love them. This even if their children do not love them in return for after all; it was not the child who asked to be brought in to the world but the parent who did so and therefore should give his or her all to his or her children. Thus do I believe and with this in mind have I raised my daughter.

As for my parents my father died in 2008 and in all truth, his death was as insignificant to me as when I hear that some actor or person whom I knew but do not care about dies. My mother, for her part is still alive yet she and I are not on speaking terms nor do we wish to be and have not seen each other since 2002. I having absolutely no desires what so ever to see her and am merely awaiting to see how generous she will be when she departs this world for the next. Naturally if there is a next world.

As for my mother, I can not say one way or another if she has any wishes what so ever to see me yet this is of such little importance to me that I never give it any mind and did not even do so when I was writing this article. Thus being the reality which exists between us yet in all fairness it is the way I have always wanted matters to be between my parents and myself.


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