Thursday, February 08, 2007

Childhood Memories... (long post alert!)

In the comments for the last post Lucia mentioned she loved it when I talked about my childhood. And there lies the genesis of this post. As I sat on the train on my back home yesterday evening, I tried to think about what were the immediate memories that came to me. I was a bit surprised at what came out, but then I am never sure about what my mind is gonna spew out. I guess on some level, I should be concerned that this is what came forth first and not some happy, sappy memories. I did not have a sad childhood or any thing. I had very loving parents, who did their best to set me along the right path in life. I don't how to explain this..

Tell your kids..Don't ever try this.

I was probably 5-7 years old then. I was in craft class and did not do very well on an assignment. Like is usually the case I had to get my dad to sign off on the grade which was crappy at best. I was mortified of showing those grades to my dad. I was doing well in everything else but this. But if you were like me then, and you were told there was just no option but getting good grades, you would be scared too. So what does this boy genius do?

I found one of the earlier assignments that my dad had signed off on and very carefully proceeded to cut out that signature of his (which for me meant sticking my tongue out from the side of my mouth as I cut with the scissors.. meant I was so focused on that task). You know where this is going right? I took that piece of paper with his signature on it and stuck it on the assignment that I had a bad grade in. I must have been mighty proud of my handiwork, for I took it in the next day and had the chutzpah to show it to my arts teacher. Oh boy, did she blow her top?

My parents were summoned to school and informed about my act of "forgery". They were both understandably upset at what I had done, and it also reflected poorly upon them. After we got home, my dad took out one of his leather belts and proceeded to whip me on my legs with it. I do not recall if my mom tried to stop this or not. Boy that whipping was painful I have memories of crying as it was meted out to me. I remember the skin having cut, but more distinctly I recall my mom applying (merbromine , Mercurochrome a mercurial compound applied topically as an antiseptic) the red color of that doing nothing to disguise the ugly welts.

I recall having to go to school, the next day wearing those marks of shame. I am not gonna go in to the merits/demerits of corporal punishment here (I don't believe in it). I just know I screwed up, what I can't answer is why physical force of this nature was used, wonder why they did not try to just verbally chide me. We know what something like this would have landed my father in, if it had happened in the US. The only other time I was hit was when he slapped me over a small misunderstanding, in public, that actually stayed with more and hurt me more. I wonder if the foundation of our rocky relationship was laid on that day. I won't talk about why he he slapped me here.

He is a kind loving man, but not always with polished edges. He had a much harder childhood and life than I had, and when I look back I owe a debt of gratitude to him, for where I am at in life would not have happened without him and mom. I have made my peace with him and am at peace with myself about it.

Do any of you recall ever trying a stunt like what I did?

Being Touched..

This is probably a bit dark. I am not sure it means anything other than at that age I just did not understand it. My recollection of it however is crystal clear. We lived in staff housing for employees of the Indian Railroad (railways) as they call them. I recall going down on the street to hangout with my playmates. It was a quite afternoon, not too many people about.

There was this family that lived a few doors down, they had 3 sons, all I knew was they did not have a clean, well kept house. One of the 3 sons, I think the oldest was walking towards me on the street. As he came abreast of me he reached out and grabbed my crotch. It happened so fast I barely had a chance to react, I did pull away though. That was it, the guy went on his way, and I was completely incapable of understanding what happened. All I knew was that it did not seem right. For whatever reason I never mentioned this to anyone incl my folks, but it stayed with me. I made sure I avoided that guy, we moved from there a few years later. I was too young to comprehend it but not enough for it to fade in to the recesses of my mind.

There was another episode on a train a few years later, when I had just finished high school. You know those commuter trains in Bombay? They get crowded like tins of sardine. Some perv decided it was a good idea to rub him self against me. He was aroused by it too, it was so friggin obvious!!! I was horrified and tried to move away, but he moved along with me in the mass of humanity in that coach.

I had to do something, too scared to say anything, I moved towards the doors of the compartment. The trains there don’t have doors that shut, so as the train started to move out of the Vikhroli station (I remember the station name, how could I not) and started to gather a little speed. I got off, I did not see the guy get off, but as I left the station out on to the street I kept looking back, trying to make sure I was not followed.

I took a long walk around the streets near the station, part of me already starting to distance myself from what happened (self survival..I guess?) , and the other parts filled with revulsion, anger, fear and loathing at myself and the perpetrator for what had just happened to me. This also brought forth memories of the earlier incident and I wondered what made me a magnet for something like this. I am not sure if there was higher power at work here or just my street smarts that saved me, but either of those episodes could have gotten uglier. They stay with me as a reminder of the evil that lurks in the mind of men.

Now that I thoroughly depressed ya’ll.

Dreaming Of Chocolate..

As a kid in my time, sweets were strictly rationed. First of all we never saw the dazzling variety of candy back then in India that we see in the US. I think that was probably good, for I do tend to have a sweet tooth (I went thru a 5 lb jar of gummi bears in 2 weeks single handedly a few yrs back). But my obsession with staying in shape and an ability to control my portion size have saved me, that and not wanting to make my dentist richer than he already is sire!

Back on track.. We hardly ever got candy on week days at home. Only when mom went out and took me and sis along, did we get candy to eat and usually was the hardboiled type. So one day we discovered “Gems” candy made by Cadburys. They are like M & Ms and to this kid, it was the closest that came to being in heaven after I ate one. The way each colored gems melted in my mouth was bliss. Like a lot of kids, I would also lick each one and then stick my tongue out to see the color on it, in front of a mirror or ask another kid to tell me how it looked.

But mom would never give me more than one or two of those. And I had a dream about this, where I was begging her for a gem, and she was like “No sweetie your teeth are gonna rot with too much sugar!”

But she gave in to my entreaties, and out popped a single gems in to the palm of my outstretched hand. As it touched it I closed my hand over it. That was when I woke up, and my hand was closed, I opened it half expecting there to be a gems candy there. Needless to say I was disappointed.

So there you go folks, some good some not so childhood memories. At least now I won’t take some of them with me to the grave.


Fuzzylogic said...

*slowly raising one hand*I'm guilty as charged for forging the signature once:)But I got away with it unlike poor you who got caught!I was also too scared to show those grades to my dad,my dad was pretty much like yours in that he expected nothing but best from me but luckily physical punishment was not something he believed in.I am so sorry that you had to endure those beatings that must have been hard to forget.
About the other incidents we women endure that a lot more than you men.I had to travel by bus to my school and we were always advised to carry safety pins just to get those perverts off our backs.And the gems!how I used to love them:)we got them only on very special occasions perhaps like a birthday or something.I would be so thrilled to have them,we would treasure each piece and wish they would never finish:)
Thanks for sharing these memories Sanjay!

Sai said...

My Dear Dear Sanjay:

Your stories brought tears to my eyes. I was never hit by my folks but threatened with consequences all the time! I guess it is different for boys or maybe your parents were worried about how you would turn out in future. Parents can get scared of such things!

Oy! to what you had to experience as a child. I always thought women went through this kind of nonsense. People can be so disgusting!

Love your story about gems!

ML said...

Sanjay, unfortunately that's the only way our parents knew how to discipline their children. Beatings were a normal part of life and boy did I get my share as did my siblings. Looking back at the reasons why I got my beatings...well...none of them were deserved. Maybe a good talking to and told to stay in my room for an amount of time would have taken care of the very minor misdemeanor.

I'm so horrified at what happend to you in the train. What a sick pervert that person was. I'm so glad you got away!

Love the story about the gems. Yum, sweets just the best. :)

Sanjay said...

@ Fuzzylogic.. where were ya to teach me that trick re :signature when I needed it most.
I was only hit twise as a kid, but they stayed with me.
I know the incidents women have to endure in India (the term is eveteasing right?)are a lot tougher. I am not trying to say they are not, just offered up my experience thats all.
Oh ya, the fun of eating gems was one at a time :)
Thank you for your thoughts.

MONA said...

sanjay...I can empathise, myself being a victim of similar incidents.Very very similar..all three of them...

Cacophoenix said...

Hehe..I have been caught forging once for crappy grades too. Fortunately enough, My father and I were too close for him to actually hit me and being a joint family there was always grandma and grandpa who figured it was my father's fault for being so obsessed with grades.
My brother got hit though. This one time my mom was cutting Yam and hit him for something and he ended up having an allergic reaction to it freaking everyone out. That was the last time he got hit.
My craving was for Dairymilk fruit and nuts...Oh God the raisins and the cashews adn the chocolate sigh!!

patches said...

Not that an honorable, upstanding citizen like yourself would need tips on forging now but......One good way to do it is to tape the original signature to a window that is backlit, then put the paper you need the signature on on top, position, and then trace. This is a good technique to reverse or mirror artwork.

Sounds like the punishment you received for the forgery might have been more about the "it also reflected poorly upon them." Childhood shapes us with good experiences and bad.

BTW, I never forged a signature, but my actions reflected poorly on my parents many, many, many times. I'm not bragging as much as I am repenting.

Dave said...

I never faked my dad's signature but I did do other underhanded things when it came to my homeword not being done.. and "yes" I did get caught!

Thanks for your insight into your life as a child. It often amazes me how similar other people's experiences can be.


Sanjay said...

@Sai.. Sorry hope it was not to depressing, you know just writing without filtering myself on the blog can at times be a bit liberating and also a bit of a drain.Oh well..
Thank you and I hear you about gems :)

@ML.. Thanks, yes they took that dictum spare the rod spoil the child a bit too far. :)

@Mona.. Thanks, I also read your very fine comment about faith on the last post. Sorry I havn't gotten arnd to responding to you and the others.

@Cacophoenix.. Hello fellow forger :) Yum @ fruit and nuts chocolate. I am glad you explained how you know to trace a signature. Childhood shapes us with good experiences and bad.
That is a true statement!

Sanjay said...

@Dave.. Yes that attempted forgery was a bit out there in terms of underhanded things I did.
Ahh yes.. the expereinces that shape us.
Thanks for stopping by. :)

Asha said...

Me no afraid of long post either!HeHe!! Forgery at the ripe old of 7 and punished so severly for it! WOW!
When my dad threatened to smack me which was rare ,I would stand,stare and say "go ahead,smack me" and he would feel soooo guilty and walk away!

I am shocked and sorry to read abt your ordeal but we females go through it all our lives in India,whether we are 6,11 or 35 yrs old.Those bus rides were horrible.I am so thankful the my kids do not go through all that in US.Not until now anyway,thank you GOD!

Shitrint said...

i really love it wen u post personal experiences. u know earlier i used to think that only girls get touched and molested, but i am across quite a number of men who have to go thru these - yes mumbai local trains, the mens compartment are famous for "touching and feeling".

abt the hitting with the belt thing, even i was hit quite a few times and abused mentally and psychologically a lot more. i hated my parents for a point of time for that. its cleared now thankfully. and yes i do not quite understand why kids are being hit with every conceivable object. actually i didnt mind being hit. becoz the mental and psychological abuse hurt me more than anything else. it reached that point where i actually thot which abuse treatment was better instead of it wishing to end. of course girls dont get hit as much wen they hav grown up and attained puberty...

Aditi said...

all cool memories..
abt being whipped as a child.. no no.. i was rather good never got beat up.. except i think i might have when ia ccidentally dropped my baby brother.. accident.. and i think i blacked out the remaining memories after that..
or when i burned ma's sari at diwali.. (while she waswearing it..oops) yea i think those were it..hehe
about being groped.. your train incident..happens far too often in india.. especially when u're a girl.. eww.. buses.. trains..i remember someone rubbed against me in the crowd.. at the airport as soon as i got off this of the staff.. yep it was a regular ol welcome to india

SachinRB said...

DUDE!! Your post has inspired me to write my own Childhood memories and the things...the bad things..I have done when I was a kid and how I was beaten around by my Dad...I deserved each and every lash for the things I did..I am going to post that sometime...I have something similar to your forgery story..and more..Man, do I have some tales to tell..

beenzzz said...

Yep, the belt whipping was pretty rampant in most houselholds. I received my share, though not as much as my older siblings. I'm sure your dad was only practicing what he knew, as my parents did. Now they look back on how they punished us and can see how wrong it was.
Gems are delicious!

Lotus Reads said...

I enjoyed reading your childhood reminices Sanjay, thanks for taking time to share them with us.

Yeah,people from that generation were certainly quick to use the belt, but like some of the others have said, it's the only way they knew how to discipline.

We never got any candy at home either nor did we ever get to see a bottle of "Thums Up" or "Campa Cola" unless we were expecting guests. I loved your "Gem" story! :)

About the pervs - scary stuff!

Carrie said...

Oh no. There is no way that I would do anything like forging my dad's signature. My dad was all about the physical punishment. And we avoided it at all cost. We always got punished for fighting (me and my brother). Mom was just as bad with the face slapping. That right there still burns me. It is degrading. I don't think these are depressing. It was just a different time and parents handled things differently.

priya said...

Sometimes we do it unknowingly why not give a try. But what we get is harsh treatment. At that age, its sad to be treated that way.

lalitha said...

y..I grew up in a household where my father was very strict with my brothers.I did get spanked a few times with a cane on my legs but my brothers did get it with the Belt..One day they had to kneel on gravel because they had not come home when the street lights went on.that was the rule for the boys. I am sure they still remember these things but have gone on to be very successful in life.But I am sure there are repressed memories.I think today parents know better and don't do these things.
About the candy..we did not get a lot of candy also.first it was to expensive especially the chocolates and secondly the problem about spoiling your teeth.I remember getting a tin or Paries seets to give to the kids in schol on my birthday and wanting to just keep it for myself.I think thats why I have a sweet tooth also,but stay away because I need to stay fit.

Lucia said...

After reading the comments, I realized that I like to read about your childhood because it was the same, but different. (Does that make sense?)

Better not to carry these to your grave... Thanks for good, honest writing.

Diana said...

That took a lot of guts to write those memories. It's easy to gloss over the bad and make the past seem all flowers and sunshine. Thanks for sharing that.

I wonder if your father has a horror of being shamed in public? Being called in to school and being confronted by your rather sad bit of forgery, what ever it was that made him hit you that other time, they seem to have that in common.

listmaker said...

I never tried to forge a signature, but one of my sons did. I caught him in the act. To my knowledge he never tried it again.

I'm sorry to hear about those awful incidents with your neighbor and on the train. No one should have to endure something like that.

We didn't get much candy as kids either and when we did it was a great treat. Unfortunately, I wasn't so strict with my kids, although none of them seem to have a problem with over indulgence.

Thanks for sharing these stories.

MoDigli said...

I forged my mom's name in high school! Terrible, really. I would come to school late with a "Note from my mom". I don't know why I never got caught. I guess I was old enough to make it look real, and smart enough not to over-use the little trick!

I've also had close calls with perverted people in the street. I'm sorry it happened to you, but in a way it makes me feel better that men are victims, too.

What is wrong with those crazy pervs?

Keshi said...

u must have been quite an adventurous kid Sanjay. btw I got hit too. My dad never hit me. He was too kind. It was only my mum who hit us when we were very naughty. She had to. Or else I'd have been someone else today.


moegirl said...

I forged my Dad's signature to get out of an unexcused absence in high school and did not get caught, but I had spent a long time practicing his signature.

I think it was brave to share the unpleasant memories as well. Sadly, so many people as kids were subjected to inappropriate things. I think its healthy to process it, and not leave it buried.

Sugarlips said...

Such a lovely post Sanjay :)
Its dreadful what happened to you in train and like others mentioned I always thought it happens only with girls...Few years back I visited Pakistan and it happened in a busy clamorous market...What a lovely gesture welcome back lol...I went after him and slapped on his face Oh gosh it was so much fun my cousin was with me and she was so scared and sai Oh forget about it and all but I felt so satisfied after slapping :)

Loved the gems story :)

Stay Beautiful...!!

MONA said...

Sanjay.Did I tell you? Gems were and are still my favourite too!& I had the same way of savourin them like you did.:) Do you know, even now, when we get a gift pack of Cadbury's assortments today, Gems are the first, and the only one that I grab. Earlier they were a bit glossy, but now they have a matt look to them. & they have added a turqoise blue & a purple colour to the rest :) :) :)

deepsat said...

its becoz of the parents that you are so successful now!

i once did a similar thing. i flunked in maths and got 09/100 which was like doomsday for me! in our school the failed marks are underlined in red for extra effect in the report card. i tried my antics and converted the 0 to 8 so it looked 89/100. However like every criminal i made a mistake - forgot to remove the red underline! and yes i too felt the warm his belt for the next few days!!

i cherish those days!!


shruti said...

childhood memories can never being forgotton..
on eof my scared memoy includes when my father has made me sit on the top of teh almirah when i was 3 or 4 yrs old and i was so scared that for 1 whole hour i had just closed my eyes and stay their even without moving my hands...

Sanjay said...

@Asha.. Thank you for your comment, yes I know women have to go thru a lot more of this crap in India.

@Trinnie.. Sorry buddy that your experiences were so bad. I hope you have emerged a stronger and a better person cos of that.

@Aditi. Lol at your funny memories. Not at the welcome you recieved. Its interesting how the ind women I know incl *A* start to react differently to their environment when they visit India.

@Sachin.. Would love to hear what you come uo with.

@Beenzz.. I know what you mean.

@Lotusreads... I hear ya. Perhaps it worked, or maybe not. lol look at how I turned out. Thank you for your kind comment.

Sanjay said...

@Lucia. Thanks, I know what you mean.

@Diana..Thanks. I think no parent in India likes to be called to school and admonished for how their kid behaves. This may be more true in India cos of the emphasis put on ed excellence.

@Carrie. Liked your take on it. :)

@Priya.. Thanks.

@Lalitha..Thats interesting. I did nto wanna share my sweets either.

@Listmaker. Thanks. You did a fine job of parenting, I have to say.

@Mo.. Where were you when I had to forge? lol. Well men dont have to suffer as much in that regard.

@Keshi.. lol. Thanks for ur comment.

@Moegirl..You got away too? :)
Thank you for your thoughts.

@Sugarlips.. wow.. you go girl, I am glad you got that perv!

@Mona.. I did not know gems were your faves. Nice new colors too I gotta say.

@Deepsat.. wow! I have to say the discipline they instilled in us did and does help.

@Shruti.. Aww. :)

Beloved Dreamer said...

Oh dear, if we all confessed what we tried to get away with when we were little, my face would be pink. I like reading about your memories Sanjay. I would love to hear more about India an what it was like to live there.


Viewer said...

Wow reading ur post reminded me of my childhood.. .Maybe someday i will write a post on it :) How r u doing?