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Childhood Fears - Writing Workshop

I had  a tense childhood to say the least.  My father died a slow and painful death of cancer and our whole house revolved around him and his illness for ten years.  We kids (there were four of us, all girls) had to be quiet and behave ourselves most of the time - or else!  We just accepted it as normal.  We were often asked in school by well meaning teachers if everything was okay and why were we so tense and scared all the time etc.  Looking back,  I can see that others could see what we couldn't - that we were living with tremendous pressure.  Our confidence was very low.  I think that when my father passed away, the tension subsided but there were now  problems of a different sort.  Although school was free, my mother had  to become a provider and find money to feed and clothe us decently as well as making a home for us.  I'm only now beginning to appreciate what she achieved during those difficult years.

I find that to this day, I have a tremendous fear of 'bothering' people.  I don't like to disturb anyone.  I can go for weeks without asking for help.  I'm now living in India, in a combined family, having grown up in Ireland, in  a Dublin suburb.  My husband reaches home late at night and can't take care of many of our everyday needs.  If the light breaks in my room, I'm inclined to shrug it off and carry on somehow, instead of asking my brother in law to go and get one for me.  I might tentatively ask as in 'when you get some time, can you please.......' as if my needs were just nothing. I'm stuck at home without a vehicle.

A woman called Savita made me wake up.  She was the wife of a farmer from a rural village.  When her husband was working in Lucknow, our city, on a work related assignment, her daughters were studying in the most exclusive convent school in the city.  Sure that their small town couldn't offer anything like the education the girls were getting at Lucknow, Savita stayed on there when her husband's assignment was finished.  She rented a two-room flat and continued without him for two years until the pressure of life without her husband's reassuring presence forced her to have second thoughts.  As Savita originated from the same village as my father-in-law had, she claimed him as her local guardian and turned up at our doorstep every other day for help of some sort.  Often, she wanted one of the children in the house to go to the shop for her.  Sometimes she wanted me (busy as a bee, 24/7 with my two babies under three years old) to drop everything to go and sit in her house as she was afraid of burglars coming in when she travelled to some distant market.  Our close friend and neighbour Mrs. Asha Singh had the use of a car and a son of legal driving age; whenever Savita needed a car, she would simply come and demand the use of it.  Asha had to put her off at times when the son was busy with studies, but nine out of ten times Savita got exactly what she wanted because she was persistent, wouldn't take no for an answer and demanded help from us as a right.  I was often open-mouthed at some of her demands.  I wouldn't dream of asking my household members for half of the things she did.  I often packed my babies in the pram and traipsed a mile down the road for a packet of milk.  Savita would arrive on the doorstep, state her demand and my mother in law would send one of the older grandchildren to get it and make her tea too.  Because the 'poor thing's' husband was not living there.

Savita used to make my blood boil at times, until I realized that no-one really minded doing things for her.  I with my hesitant attitude of 'not wanting to trouble anyone' was the real loser, although I imagined myself to be terribly refined and well-mannered.  Alas!  I've not been able to shake off that sense of not wanting to bother anyone.  Only recently I brought myself to ask for help - there was a book available online which I really wanted to purchase and I had no way of making the payment.  It wasn't that money was the problem, just the method of payment.  So I got in touch with a close friend whom I've adopted as my elder brother and asked him to get it for me.  And he did!  It felt amazing to ask for help and actually get it, no questions asked!

Otherwise, I'll still just grab my scarf and my purse and walk a mile or so to the local shop rather than ask one of the males of the house to go and get it for me!  Then again, the kids have grown up now.  And I do need the exercise!

This post was inspired by this week’s Writer’s Workshop at Mama’s Losin’ It.  I looked at the current week’s  prompts and got inspired by the first prompt, ‘Childhood Fears You've Taken into Adult Life’  Hence the post.
This post originally appeared on Write Away at WordPress on 2/9/2010

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