This is probably the hardest blog I’ve ever written: my own story. As a writer it’s somewhat easier to write a story, rather than share your own story.
I was born in south London in an inner city urban jungle, where I grew up with people from all walks of life and ethnicities – except another Indian, which was pretty strange. My neighbourhood was a funny mix of immigrants, their British born children and a council estate full of angry white BNP supporters. The weird thing was that their children and the immigrants’ children didn’t see the tension and became friends. Some of my best childhood memories come from my hometown – to be brutally honest it was a right dump, but it was my dump and I guess you always have some sort of pride for your hometown. I grew up with an older brother and when I was 7 my little brother made an appearance into our family unit. I don’t remember an awful lot about my childhood, I think it’s because I choose to forget a lot of it. I didn’t have it easy growing up; sure I had the whole family unit thing going on but it didn’t make up for what happened to me. As a result of what happened, I became a lonely child obsessed with writing, drawing and reading my way into a safer, imaginary world where no one could hurt me. It’s so weird, til this very day I find it very difficult to talk or write about without getting emotional, even though I’ve come to terms with it and managed to move on.
When my older brother turned 11, we moved to the suburbs and it was a massive culture shock for me. I’d gone from a gloriously vibrant human patchwork quilt to a vanilla landscape. It took me a good few years to adjust to it and deal with it all. I ended up going to the local all girls’ school – aka “the handbag school.” This was to say, an interesting experience, I firmly believe that anthropologists can learn a LOT just by observing life in single sex schools. Whilst I had the usual palava of being bullied because I was a geek, chubby etc, I wasn’t prepared for what would dominate the next 8 years of my life.
When I was 14 my mum walked out, and it’s sad because til this very day I remember it as though it were yesterday. My older brother went with her whilst my younger brother and I stayed with my dad and my grandma. A couple of years later, she won custody of my younger brother and I was left by myself. I’m never really sure how I managed to come out of school with good grades and into university while dealing with that. I went through a dark period where I hated myself, my culture and its emphasis on mothers. I didn’t have one, so where did that leave me? There were many times where I wanted to end it all, I’d had enough of life but something kept at me to not give up. I threw myself into my studies, my artwork, my writing and when I look back on it all some of my most powerful pieces came from this period in my life. For years, I desperately tried to reconcile with my mum only to be met with: “I never wanted you” – it’s crippling to be told that by a woman who is supposed to be your head cheerleader, your world. I blamed myself for a long time: it must have been my fault she left me behind, it must have been my fault that she never wanted me and it must have been my fault for what happened to me as a child. Six years I extended and re-extended the olive branch only for it to be burned, viciously cut down and discarded. I got sick of the rejection – it’s one thing to be rejected by your crush, but it’s something else to be rejected by your parent.
Recently, I tried again to patch it up with her. After 8 years I got my answer as to why she left me behind and for the first time I felt an overwhelming sense of relief – 8 years of anger disappeared and I cried tears of happiness. All those years it’d slowly eaten away at me not knowing why I was left behind. I saw my mum after 8 years and whilst it was a cordial reunion, she still hadn’t changed. Whilst it hurt me, I knew that I could live without her. After all, I’d gotten my answer – something which stubbornly clung to me like soot does to a miner. I could move on and be at peace.
I got into university, got my degree and here I am today. Yesterday was my birthday and I’m still standing tall. When I look back on what happened to me, I’m actually glad I went through it because it’s made me who I am today and who I will be tomorrow. I am lucky to have an amazing dad who never left me, my grandma who is like a mother figure to me and my younger brother now lives with us.
It’s a new chapter in my life and I want to share it with all of my readers.