My brother’s and my childhood got over real fast. I mean when you lose your father at 5 years to an accident with his bank balance reflecting a couple of hundred notes in the prevalent currency as the last bit of asset he has left behind, you can rest assured you do not have the privilege of enjoying your childhood for very long. You look at your relatives, fast melting away in the aftermath of his funeral ceremony, faster than the fire could die out, you realize you cannot afford to be a child for very long. When you find yourself stranded in a strange city, with no relatives and friends, so to speak , at that early age and you and your mother have to learn to fend for themselves from then on wards, you realize it is time to draw curtains on your childhood.
But no, I did not realize then that I am not a
kid anymore. We were strong enough to be held aloft by a mother who was
fortitude and strength personified and who ensured by dint of her hard work,
frugality and never-say-die attitude to keep our childhood well-fed, happy and
flourishing, so to speak. If we did not have the riches, we certainly had the
warmth of a roof over our heads, food on our plates, books to keep us
entertained and a good education to help us sail through.
Childhood was idyllic, in that sense; we were never left wanting for the basic necessities nor were greedy enough to ask for more.
But the bliss did not last long. We lived in a rented accommodation which was leased out by my father before his death for 10 years on a pre-determined rent amount. Just before the end of that tenure, the landlord started harassing my mother real bad despite of all assurance given by her that she would pay the increased rent as per the existing rate, as long as he extended the lease tenure. He, somehow got a sadistic pleasure in watching her cringe and was hellbent in tormenting her using uncharitable language.
This was the house which had afforded us shelter and sanctity and being just two blocks away from my mother’s working place allowed her to balance work and home, as need be, especially, when we fell sick and were ailing at home. That evening he came home to call us vermin on the road and he couldn’t care less whether we lived or got crushed under his shoes.
Mother had a nervous breakdown that evening. At fifteen that was the day I realised I could not afford to hide behind the façade of being a kid any longer. The time lease had worn out. It was time to grow up and take stock of the ground reality on an adult level and my brother and I did. We took Mother to the best of doctors, got a series of C.T scans done and stress relieving anti-depressants were prescribed by the neurologists to prevent another fit. Our childhood was technically finished.
We realized hence on wards we would be responsible for our mother’s well-being, just as she had been, all these years We did not make any unreasonable demands anymore and most importantly realized that we just have to accept things happening to us which we do not have the power to change and move on with life. It was time, then to look up to the future and grow up.
We moved out of the house soon after. Brother and I both started doing odd jobs to support the household finance, studied well and immediately after graduation landed jobs to allow some breathing space and much needed rest to Mother.