Childhood; a history



Our people are an unpleasant people, my mother told me. She chopped onions with a knife between her teeth. Don’t cry over war, she barked at my milky-white father. He collected the newspaper every day, even though he had not been trained to do so. I sat on the kitchen floor and pecked at it like a lyre bird – We’ve survived worse than this! We’ve survived worse than this! In the mornings, my little brother watched Japanese cartoons on the television, and sometimes, my mother would look up in love, and wave her fleshy-pink stumps at him.

In school I was the playground queen. It was the surprise of the century. But I was not a disruptive influence. One afternoon, it rained the heaviest it had since we’d begun to exist. Our sweaters turned black and clung to our bodies. We were like giant crows in the mist. I clung to a snail I'd found drowning in a puddle. The large and wheezing Mrs. Johnson screamed and tossed him on the heater where he sizzled for three days.

After we did fractions, I lost all interest in my education.

When I was twelve, we went on holiday. We crossed the equator in a caravan, and experienced tropical luxuriance. My brother learnt to whistle, and I bought a diary to make origami giraffes out of the pages.

The big event of that summer was that my father took to tailored suits. At first, we indulged him. But then he expressed a desire to cultivate pistachios. Well, my mother was no well-behaved import. Eventually, she told us, we had no choice but to donate him to a kind and wealthy family.


About the author

Raised by msn messenger, Vidya Sai Rajan is a writer, comic & performance-maker. She is current writer-in-residence at the malthouse theatre, and current disappointment-in-residence at extended family dinners. Sometimes she tweets @vidyarrrr

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