Sometimes I think that I’ll forget it all, and then the smallest trigger causes the floodgates of memory to open wide. Bad memories. They’re akin to magma, simmering and bubbling ominously, silently in the crevices. A hint of pressure, a fiery spark, and it all erupts. No wonder then, that it feels like there’s a crater in my mind. A void, a deep, empty, hollow void. A ready receptacle for the next flood of memories.
My first lucid memory of my father is from when I was around three years old. One of the house help had broken a glass after breakfast, and blamed me for it. Not that I had any awareness of the fact at the time, I just knew that I hadn’t done it. I was ‘brought’ to my father for judgement, for appropriate punishment. I said that I didn’t do it, and he said he’d make me confess. So I stood there in front of him, even then not a crier, and he rapped a wooden ladle across my knuckles, each time asking, “did you do it?”. And each time I’d say, “no, I didn’t”, and it would incense him even more. After a prolonged and fruitless interrogation, he decided that I needed to be taught a lesson about lying. So he shut me in the store room at the back, in the dark.
By the time dinner time came around, the maid’s guilty conscience probably got the better of her, and she went and confessed my mother. A huge hue and cry ensued and they opened the storeroom to find me sitting in a corner, wide awake and long finished crying, still in the dark. My father chose to observe that I’d probably fallen asleep in there anyway, no harm done, and everyone silently agreed. It wasn’t worth the argument, to differ.
I was never afraid of the dark ever again, not at any point in my entire life.
I grew up dreaming of various ways I would get back at my father, for everything he’d put my family through, for everything he’d put me through. One of my favorite fantasies was that I’d lock him up in a germ free isolation I’d read about in a Sidney Sheldon novel, I forget which one. One of the rich men is so germ phobic that he refuses to meet anyone without an unbreakable glass barrier in the middle. I always wanted to put my father behind one of those glass barriers, heck, in an unbreakable glass box. And then I would tell him everything I think about him, everything I’ve always want to say, without fear of the beating of my life (or that would end my life, lol). And he wouldn’t ever be able to get to me, through the unbreakable glass…
Life never gave me that opportunity. Not yet, anyway. I learnt how to die a little inside, every time he erupted. Eventually, I died so much that I could die no more, and I just existed, beyond that point. I progressed through the Five Stages of Grief that generally apply to a close person dying, every time I died. And I learnt, I kept learning.
After years of erosion, the damage is fairly significant. The fire has cooled, though. Instead of burning my hands to cinders, letting the anger eat away inside me from bottling it up so tight, each time there’s an ‘episode’, I recede into an unshakeable calm. The volatile nature of anger has long given way to the much more sluggish trickle of pure, unadulterated hate. Tolerance, and hate. I still hate him, more so every time he does what he does, what we are forced to bear. But now, I know he doesn’t know any better. He’s a mad man, he can’t control it. I understand that, and hate him just the same.
Through the eyes of a child, the world is simply love and hate. And the lessons learnt in childhood are rarely misguided. I was given my first taste of hate a long time ago. I learned it, and I remember.
And even if, in some miraculous way, i forgive?
I’ll never forget.