Mother and son

For years I saw him walk past our house with his mother.  He was older than me but I never saw him by himself or go to school.  Sometimes his siblings would walk along with him but his mother would always be there too.

Back then, the term used was ‘mongoloid’, a word that puzzled me.  We knew nothing about the disorder, why it had that name or what the symptoms were.  It wasn’t until I was in secondary school that I learned about the condition and its proper name.

photo credit: baldyczeks via photopin cc

We lived in a village on the outskirts of a small rural town.  It was a place where religion and superstition lived hand in hand; where transgressions and gossip were as significant in people’s lives as their daily bread.

It was unusual then, for a disabled child to live at home rather than in an institution but his mother was determined to keep him with her despite the criticism and pressure from family and neighbours.  She got on with her life, raising several children and doing the hard work that women in villages had to do.  She learned to live with the stares, the whispers and the hurtful remarks. Eventually as the years passed, mother and son became a common sight and they were left alone.

In time his brothers and sisters left home and his father died.  But still, as late as his forties, he and his mother would go for their walks.  They always walked at the same pace; she dressed in black, old and hunched, slightly ahead; him close by, always at the same distance, always looking just ahead.  I never saw them talk to each other but whenever they passed someone he would always say the same words “what time is it?’

I used to wonder what would happen to him if his mother died first but I learned some time ago that he was the first to go.

Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember

I remember the trauma of losing my milk teeth.  When the first one became loose my parents checked it regularly to see when it was ready to be pulled.  When they deemed it ready, dad pulled it out.  That was a very traumatic experience and after it I refused to let him touch my teeth.

My parents seemed to have a strong fear of me swallowing a tooth in my sleep and kept insisting on checking them.

Eventually we reached a compromise – a string would be attached around the tooth and then to a door handle – dad would pull the door and with that the tooth would come out.  How that was different from my dad pulling it with his fingers I don’t know but somehow in my mind, it was better and that is how most of my teeth were pulled out.

Smile

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Check out the Weekly Writing Challenge post.

* This memory was triggered by this weekend’s Trifextra prompt which was the word tooth.

Daily Prompt: The stage

When I was 10 I wanted to be an actress (women were actresses then not actors).  When I told my parents about this they discouraged me but I am not sure what their reasons were. When I told my grandmother she was appalled and made it sound like I wanted to be a prostitute.

Being the good little girl that I was, I tried to forget about my dream and in my teens I found some excuse not to join a theatre club that friends were setting up.  I remember not wanting to disappoint my father.

Over the next few years I had several career interests – fashion designer, interior designer, international truck driver, photographer, civil engineer and architect.  Eventually, after several random jobs, moving abroad and a University degree, I ended up with a job in a large global corporation which has no connection whatsoever with the creative career dreams of my childhood and teenage years.

Photography - indulging in one of my creative interests

Photography – one of my creative interests

Daily Prompt: Ballerina Fireman Astronaut Movie Star

When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up? What are you now? Are the two connected?

The family dog

It wasn’t until my youngest sister was six that we finally persuaded dad to let us have a dog.  In fairness we didn’t really give him much choice as grandad showed up with the puppy, having smuggled him on a coach, inside a small bag.

He was a mongrel, white with black spots, gorgeous and clever.  We named him Muxi.

When I mentioned the family dog here it was Muxi I was thinking of as I have specific memories about him in that place.

The beach we used to stay at was quite basic, with only a few houses.  It had a main road along it and one other short road that became a dirt track into the woods.

Once we went for a walk in the woods, got a bit lost and ended up on the hill above the beach.  We could see the house we were staying at but not a path to get there.  Muxi kept running back and forth, barking at us.  One of us kids said that he had probably found a way but dad said it was unlikely. We persuaded him to follow the dog and sure enough Muxi was showing us a path down.

Until then dad had just tolerated his presence but after this I believe he gained a certain admiration and respect for Muxi and his skills.

The other episode was when my younger sister went to holiday camp. My other sister and I had gone there when we were around her age and my parents thought it would be good for her to go too.  The odd thing was that she had to go while the rest of the family were on holiday at the beach.

Dad drove her to the camp and as soon as they left, Muxi went under her bed and refused to move.  We coaxed him with food and all sorts of treats but could not persuade him to get up or go anywhere.

My sister and I were scared that he would die of hunger if he didn’t eat until our little sister came back.  As it turned out we didn’t have to worry too long because she was miserable at the camp and dad went off again to get her a few days later.

We were at home as they were due back and suddenly Muxi got up from under the bed and started wagging his tail.   We looked out to the road and saw the car arriving.  He was over the moon when he saw my sister.

After that we were back to normal with all the family and the family dog doing our usual holiday activities together.