My childhood

at Posted by Kusum Rohra

I was 5, standing outside our home and weeping, I was terrified at the idea of going in. At our school we were given a set of workbooks for all subjects that cost Rs.50 which I had left behind at school on the very first day. We never had much money, and 50 bucks was a lot, my mother had been beating me for days about not finding those damn books. Every day after I returned from school, she’d beat me with the rolling pin, slap me around and pinch me hard but mostly it was the rolling pin. She would ask repeatedly if I checked with the housekeeping and the teachers about the workbooks and why didn’t I find them if I left them behind at school. I don’t remember if I found the workbooks, all I remember is standing outside our door and weeping uncontrollably knowing fully well what waited for me at the other side.

I was 7, sitting on the kitchen floor, sipping on water and weeping. I had a terrible tooth ache and it never occurred to me that I could wake up my parents and ask them to do something about it. I wouldn’t dare to wake my mom up. My father woke up in the middle of the night, I am no sure why, maybe he heard me crying. He gave me a sip of Whiskey and asked me to hold it in my mouth and spit it out after a bit, that did dull the pain. I don’t remember if they took me to the dentist the next day, all I remember was weeping alone on the kitchen floor not knowing what to do about the pain.

I was 11, sitting on the steps to the terrace of our apartment. A neighbor spotted me there as asked me what was I doing sitting all alone on the steps in the dark. I told her the truth, that my mom had beaten me up, and I had taken off from home and was waiting for my father to return, for she would never beat me when he was around. She took me to her home, gave me dinner and then she asked me something very strange. She asked me if my mother ever hugged me or kissed me. I don’t remember what I replied, I remember that was the first time I consciously thought about it, realized that my mom never did hug me, that the neighbor asked me that question in a way that sounded like that was grossly wrong and almost pitied me. I started lying from then on about my mother. I’d tell exaggerated stories about my mother caring and loving me. A very few handful friends knew that in reality my mother beat me regularly and never cared for me.

I was 13, locked in my room, I had no water, I hadn’t eaten the whole day, I would anxiously look outside the balcony to see if my father was returning from work, he would let me out, I could drink water. My mother beating me and locking me up and my father letting me out had become a common occurrence in my house. My mother would beat me up and lock me. My brothers sometimes would open the door and sneak in some water and food and lock me back so that my mother didn’t find out, but she did find out, then she started using a lock and key, instead of the plain door lock that could be opened easily. I started stocking food and water in my room knowing I’d be locked in my room. This was an ongoing circus for many of my teenage years, my mother would beat me, lock me up. My brothers would find the key, sneak in water and food. I started locking her up too, I would make her promise that she wouldn’t beat me if I let her out. She’d promised, sometimes she’d keep her promise, sometimes she’d beat the living day lights out of me, I went to school the next day and would tell my friends about how my mom wanted me to do well in the Social Sciences since she knew I loved studying history and civics.

I was 15, I had recently started eating lunch with a new group of friends. One of them told me her mother had woke up late that day and would be bringing lunch during recess. This is back in 1995 Ulhasnagar. Her mother drove from Ulhasnagar to Kalyan (which was a big deal in those days) to make sure her daughter had her lunch. This surprised me a lot. I couldn’t understand it, why didn’t her mother just give her lunch money instead of driving all the way. My mother never packed me lunch, but she gave me lunch money and wasn’t that good enough? If it wasn’t then why didn’t my mother pack me lunch? 

I was 17, I was staying with my aunt, I overheard a telephonic conversation where my aunt was complaining about how it was going to be impossible for her to let me stay any longer since she didn’t want the hassle of a young girl staying with her. Every once in a while my mother would tire of beating me up and would throw me out. I’d stay with my granny, my aunts being passed from one family to the other, never realizing they wanted nothing to do with my mom and me. I hated having to stay with others, I felt like a burden, I did my best, but I never knew why my mom beat me so I didn’t know what I had to stop doing for her to not throw me out on the streets again. I thought that dying would be the best.

When I was 5 I never knew that mothers shouldn’t beat up their little kids for losing a set of books, when I was 7 I never knew that I could go to my parents if I was in pain, when I was 17 I didn’t know that committing suicide was not the only solution. It’s not been easy putting all that behind me but now in a few days I’ll be 33, I no longer am beaten up, uncared for and thrown out to live with unwelcoming relatives and I most definitely do not want to die. 

I have someone I can wake up in the middle of the night if I am in pain, someone I know will stand by me through thick and thin. That for me has been the biggest joy of my life.

P.S: Upon turning 33, I wanted to write a post about how wonderful things are, about how I can now drive, I've started playing TT and gotten very competitive about it, about how I have quit my job which was getting very boring and have become an entrepreneur, but some ghosts come back and need to be dealt with. I have spent years trying to hide all of this from friends and family so I decided it’s time I stopped hiding or being ashamed. It was never my fault and I have suffered enough. If you are a friend and are reading this, then you know I am a happy go lucky kind of loony person, I am doing great, but some wounds hurt even if they have healed.

My mother married young and had me when she was just 17. According to doctors she suffers from a rare form of dementia. My family has had a very tough time living with it. We didn’t know that it was a mental disorder and maybe it could have been treated. For most days she is okay, but my father still has a very tough life living with her, in my case I am in a caring and nurturing relationship but in his case he will never have that kind of support and love which only a spouse can provide. All that pain from my childhood will hopefully fade away, but he has no such hope and he will stand by her no matter what.

If you know of a family member with similar problems I urge you to take them to a specialist and get a diagnosis/treatment.


Jagu said...

Kudos Kusum. Really admire you a little more after reading this...No one can tell how rough it was for you growing up from cheerful personality you own now...It takes real courage to move on from all that pain and spread positivity as you do now. It is a wonderful thing that you got it off your chest and chose a public domain which would help others introspect before they complain how life has been a bitch. You Rock Girl!! :)

PS:I would be rejoining the blogging bandwagon soooon.... :)

Jagu said...

Kudos Kusum. Really admire you a little more after reading this...No one can tell how rough it was for you growing up from cheerful personality you own now...It takes real courage to move on from all that pain and spread positivity as you do now. It is a wonderful thing that you got it off your chest and chose a public domain which would help others introspect before they complain how life has been a bitch. You Rock Girl!! :)

PS:I would be rejoining the blogging bandwagon soooon.... :)

Jagu said...


Your Dad is a Superstar. I wish lil Mayura would also blog or at least tweet similar sentiments in future on how wonderful her old Man was when she was a kid. :)

Bittu's Mamma said...

Dear Kusum,

Words can’t express the pain I felt after reading this post.
Each sentence is a window to the mind of a frightened little girl…. A little girl whom I just wanted to hug and kiss, feed and put to bed.

Knowing that very well the pain you gone through are unbearable, I am glad the pain didn't crack your soul.
I am so proud of you Kusum and I love you more and more…
Hats off to your father, the man with big heart.


... said...

Bravo.. u r a brave girl.. some things just need to be told... straight from the heart.. wish i get the courage like you to say things straight from the heart. . God bless

the mad momma said...

I don't know how you had the strength to live through that and still turn out such a wonder se full, fantastic person.

I wonder if it is possible for you to have been any more fabulous a person - because isnt that the assumption that comes with a great childhood?

I'm sorry your mum has these problems, but not sorrier than I am that you had to go through all this. I hope she finds help.

Big hugs. I do thank God for making us friends.

Lavanya said...

I am stunned Kusum. I cannot take it all in. I can't believe how regular and normal you are after all this shit! You should be so proud of yourself. And well done R for being your rock.

Kusum Rohra said...

@Jagu: In each of the instances I have mentioned, I have only written how it was for me, but the fact is that my dad suffered more than I can even imagine. As he is growing older I am overcome with the want to protect him, indulge him and generally make sure he enjoys himself.

Yipppppie, looking forward to your rumbling :) but promise me you'll post stories about M too!

@Divya: The little girl wanted those hugs and kisses, she still wants them even though she is all big now :) hugs!

@Maddy: *blush blush * I thank God too for making us friends, I am a better person. You do know I look up to you. R helped a lot, in him I found a family I always wanted - cracked but good egg. big squishy hugs!

@Deej: I have to confess I a not all that regular and normal ;) what fun can that be, right? R is the reason I have the courage to come out with all this pain.

shalini said...

read the post, it tore me....i say this as i come from a super super warm and loving family where in fact for my parents both my brother and i were a priority - more than parents are very selfless...

anyways...kuddos to you, to come out of this positive and happy....wish you loads of warmth.

yes, it will not be easy for your father and if i may add even for your mother as i am sure she knew no said condition like hers needs help and i hope people reading this understand it.

Rads said...

You are such a lovely person. And I mean considering little that i know you from fleeting passings and your writings of course. But you are.
I am sure it wasn't easy to write and revisit ghosts that sometimes do not go away or risk opening old wounds. Amazingly brave.
Your dad must be really proud of you for turning out the cheery lovely person that you are and still credit him for having suffered the most in the situation you were in. If he is not, he should be.
You are a wonderful daughter and I am sure if you decide to at some point, be the most wonderful mom ever!

Kusum Rohra said...

@KJ: Kavita one thing I can tell you for sure, I haven't wept a single time after I wrote this post. I am not sure how does this work, but writing about it sort of helped me make peace with it. So try it. It might help.

@Shalini: You are so right about it not being easy for my mom. If I ever mention any of this to her, she denies everything and gets very upset. I know she loves me and she is my mom, I love her too, just that I never really had a mom.

@Rads: Thanks * blush blush* ....I really do hope to become a loving mom but between R and me, he is the good cop and I am the bad cop always so I guess I am destined to be the hated parent :)

dipali said...

What a heartbreaking post this was.
And I understand how much worse it must have been for your dad. I remember waiting for my dad to get home the days my mom and I had a confrontation, though my spankings were absolutely nothing in comparison to what you wrote about here. Love exists despite so much.............
Huge warm squishy hugs, Kusum.