One of my earliest childhood memories, as unlikely and unbelievable as it may seem, is one of my older sister carrying me and laying me down on my back (probably to change my diaper), while she and my brother smiled down at me. That is my first ever childhood memory, a happy one.
The next memory I have is an unhappy one, when I was old enough to understand what others said to me but unable to express myself through words or actions. Therefore it was my first memory of being misunderstood. I remember pointing in a direction I wanted to go for some reason, and the person carrying me taking me in that direction. But when we got part of the way, my mother and some others were there, and the person carrying me seemed to think we had arrived at my desired destination. However, I kept pointing ahead and no one seemed to understand what I wanted, where I wanted to be taken, or why. So out of frustration and not knowing what else to do or how to communicate, I began wailing while still pointing ahead, at which point the others figured I didn’t know what I wanted myself and carried me back to where we had been in the first place, much to my frustration. I suppose even as young as I was, I wanted to be understood so badly and couldn’t understand why the others found it so hard to understand me. I wanted to be able to tell them clearly what I wanted, and I was doing it in the best way I knew how at that point in life, but no one really got me. Sad.
I recall many nights as a little child when I cried from having a stomach-ache, and had to be carried from shoulder to shoulder while people tried to sing to me and soothe me to sleep. On one occasion I was given my sister’s blue-green-and-yellow flowered plastic zipper bag of crayons, and that shut me up or rather distracted me from thinking about and feeling my stomach-ache because it was something I valued greatly and wished were my own. I was very pleased that my wish had finally been granted, or so I thought. I was extremely disappointed when awoke the next day and realised the crayon bag had gone and couldn’t be found anywhere either.
One of my most beautiful memories ever was when I was older and learning to ride the tricycle my Dad had bought me. I think he sold my brother’s bicycle in order to buy me the tricycle, and I’m sure my brother did not appreciate that one bit. To add to his frustration probably, all I did was cycle up and down the corridor inside our house, Eathorne, and never seemed to get the hang of it. Then one day my brother decided to take matters into his own hands and pushed me outdoors as I sat on my tricycle. At first I was frightened because he was pushing me so fast (or so it appeared to tiny me). He pushed me down a row of flowers in the garden, and I still remember that sight crystal clear, as if it were only yesterday. I looked up to see the beautiful yellow flowers (may have been marigolds) towering over me on either side, and it was glorious! Sadly, my ride ended when my brother decided he had pushed me enough and turned my tricycle back around, getting me out of the garden. But after that ride I think I finally got a hang of riding the tricycle and taught myself to ride it quite well, so much so that I continued to ride it even when I ought to have been riding a bicycle instead! This is also one of the rare memories I have of my brother during my childhood. Heaven knows where he was or what he did through my childhood years!
Then I remember flying. Yes, flying – across my Mom & Dad’s bed. No one ever has believed it, but the memory is etched a little to clearly in my mind to have been a dream. So no matter what everyone else thinks I still believe I did fly. Maybe it was just angels carrying me… but I DID FLY! This is how it happened: It had been a long day and the rest of the family moved into another room to discuss some problems that we had been having with our landlady. She lived next door quite literally – there was only a door separating our corridor and the portion she lived in. So we had to be careful not to discuss things in the hall that was closest to the separating door. Anyway, I was left alone in the room and was sitting on Mom & Dad’s bed with a green sketch pen in my hand. I decided to experiment, and coloured my nail and quite a bit of my hand green. As if that was not enough, I decided to taste the green refill and ended up with a green tongue as well. Oh yes, I do remember how awful it tasted and don’t think I ever did anything quite as foolish again. Not knowing what else to do, and with no television or entertainment those days I had to entertain myself. The “funnest” thing that occurred to me at that point would be to try and fly, so I gave it some serious thought. It seemed I ought to start flying over a short distance first before I could fly long distance, so I poised myself at the head of the bed in order to fly across the bed as a trial. Next, I stuck my arms out on either side to act as wings. Even at that age I knew I needed wings to fly. J Then I just lifted my feet off the bed and voila, I was flying! But before I knew it I was nearing the foot of the bed. Oh, oh! Now what? I was afraid I would fly straight over the bed and fall to the ground and get hurt or something, so I did the most sensible thing I could have, which was to put my feet back down on the bed. And there, that was the end of my first flight. I was too scared to try it again, though. I would have run into the other room excitedly to tell the rest of my family what I had accomplished, only my hand and mouth were green with ink and I would get myself into trouble. So I lay down quietly, trying as best as I could to hide my green hand and went to sleep. At some later date when I told my family what had happened, of course no one believed me and it only became a big family joke.
Another fun memory I have was on my Dad & I washing clothes together. This was way before washing machines ever came to India, and we could even afford one. Our house had a kind of store-room area that was completely detached from the main house, kind of like a long shed in the backyard, really. I remember Mrs.Landsbeck, an old grumpy lady, lived in a dilapidated portion in the backyard as well. The backyard itself was always overgrown with grass and weeds. It must have been a Saturday or at least a day that felt like a Saturday… my Dad sat with 2-3 buckets of soapy water in front of him and I helped him as he pulled out clothes from the first bucket one by one, scrubbed and wrung them before dumping them in the next bucket, and so on. I remember playing in the soapy water more than anything else, and my Dad taking a whole lot of soapsuds and dabbing them on my nose. That was fun! I enjoyed that day very much.