Living in a civilized so-called western country made me realize that I had a very normal childhood.
Can someone define what normal means?
In my opinion, normality is reflected by everyone’s perception. What to me seems normal, might sound strange to you and vice versa. It has shapes. It has behavior patterns. It’s boring. Let’s say it has its own DNA.
I always wanted to be considered a normal person. But do I want that now?
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn! One of my favorite lines mentioned by Clark Gable. I will leave you to judge and define normality because I start spinning whenever I examine the word “Normal.’’ What the f**K does it mean? What the F**K is wrong with me thinking about THAT word?
However, being among za Germans for the past six years, mingling with their culture and traditions made me feel lucky and appreciative of what I have and dealt with in my childhood.
Eastern European and Middle Eastern cultures or traditions are similar to African culturess. Have I mentioned that most of the dearest people in my life are black and I met them in za Germany?
Well I did and do! I always joke around them that I feel extremely white when I am surrounded by them. (True, she always says this – Ernest.) You might consider my comment racist, but not to me and not to them, and that’s the most important part in it. I am brown. Brown for God’s sake, poop color, yuck!
When we moved from Asia to Europe I was 10 years old. It was the first time I felt racism and bullying without being aware of it. No one has ever told me what the definition is. When I started school I was hurt. I could not understand why people called me gypsy, terrorist, Arab, lousy, brownie, crow, monkey…just name it! I heard all of it and I never knew why they were avoiding me, why they didn’t want to involve me in their games. It didn’t make any sense to me. I sked my parents, complained to them, told them I did not want to go to school. My parents kept telling me I was just giving excuses and that I should ignore and adapt. Arguing with my parents was like arguing with the windmills. Don Quixote was a small baby compared to me.
No matter what happened, I had to go to school and deal with it by ignoring it. It was hard. It was damn hard! I felt alone and miserable. My only play partner was my older brother who was facing the same problems and sharing it with me. Books became my best friends, music, board games with my parents and visiting the cinema boulevards watching all the movies with Jackie Chan, Jean Claude Van Damme and John Wayne.
Those hurtful words cut me inside deeper than a knife. I remember crying and looking forward to any escape that did not involve school. My parents ignored me and the teacher as well. Everyone became blinded, except my older brother and I who were suffering.
At one point, I couldn’t take it anymore so I got into a verbal conflict with some of the kids from the school. We fought. When I saw one of the beating my older brother, I simply lost it. I was this hyena with so much anger piled up. By each hit a layer of sadness was getting removed. It felt good. It felt amazing.
Phone rings, my parents are called to come to school to hear what I did. They were surprised but not shocked. I bit one of the kid’s arms so badly that his flesh was hanging. My clothes were ripped too. I was in a fight with three boys and I managed to defend myself. l guess adrenaline kicked in in the heat of the “party.” They found out about the story. The principle complained about my behavior. He said it was inadmissible, that what I did was savage behavior. I was terrified but what would happen when we got home. My mum started crying on the way home and I was furious about it.
Why would she cry? I am the one who’s in trouble, not her!
Suddenly my parents were awake from their blindness. I told them all the nicknames and the bullying I faced. I was angry at them. Why did we have to move? I wanted to go back. l couldn’t take it anymore. I still remember sitting at the kitchen table, sobbing. My tears were running. I think from fear as well, their reaction was always unpredictable to me as mine was to them. I remember my dad – he was tense, speechless – made me realize he was as hurt as l was, as my brother was.
I have never heard any of my parents or any member of my family nominating a skin color to us, any ethnicity, or religion. We were raised to know that we are all equal, regardless of how we looked or which family we belonged to, what our job was or where we came from. We were raised to have respect for everyone, every kid in our building block was invited to our birthdays regardless of whether we were close friends to them or not. Even if we were on opposing sides, they didn’t allow us to take the decision. Where all of us eat a piece of cake, every kid is welcome. That’s fair!
Black to me is not the skin color of deux pieds, and believe me, I am not a color blinded social animal. Instead, to me black is matching every single pattern color. It matches everything. You can never go wrong with a black dress, black shoes, black pants, black furniture, black carpet. Black cannot make seen the stain of wine on your clothes. But no, no, no… No black walls and no black floors. That’s a pain in the ass when it comes to cleaning, each single drop can be seen.
In my culture black is used as a funeral dress code, mourning, sadness. Me loves black clothes, black accessories and black people! I can easily identify myself with the African culture rather than the Caucasian/Westerner culture (whatever that means).
So Tuape has encouraged me to put my thoughts in writing, initially I thought he is trying to flatter me. But based on the comments I made to his posts he convinced me to do it by saying:
You have got wise thoughts.
So here I am trying to introduce to you myself, my twisted brain and odd life. I am “scratching” a word document and improve my ‘’London very best’’ and Office skills. Office package seems to be a big deal in za Germany (Honestly people, I don’t know why she keeps saying “za Germany.” – Ernest.) It took me 32 years to learn how to do a spread sheet or use a Word Document and l still get back to my friends asking if the sentence is correct or if the formatting is correct.
You see, l went to school in a country which was constantly under war (still is) and a country which did not have the financial resources to educate pupils by investing in Babbage tools. I first came across a computer in my University years, when I was 23 years old and l was taking IT courses. There was only one person allowed to use or touch it. It was ‘’his highness’’ the Professor projecting the image on a wall. Some people were fascinated, but not me. I found it stupid, boring, and often wondered what kind of art is this? I used a ruler and pencil to draw on a paper a table and write the formulas.
I wish I paid more attention to my courses, but since the time machine hasn’t been invented yet, I should just accept it, try to improve my skills and drive every “expert” around me nuts for their help and expertise.
When I used to tell my childhood life stories to my ex, which in my stories we will name him Decedent (by the way the bastard is still alive, so please no empathy and no sincere condolences). I have empathized him a lifetime for the time we were a couple. Yes, I will not deny that I think about him, but please spare me and cut the crap by telling me it will get better. I am still not completely over him or I am not over him because I allowed my heart to be ripped in pieces. I trusted him. But that’s another bitter or funny story.
So…I was telling him no one in my family could catch me in the house. If they locked the doors, I would jump out the window. I was a street kid, a rebel without a cause…as I said to you, I was always up for dubious businesses in my neighborhood, always climbing trees, abandoned buildings or warehouses, constantly running barefoot…running away from home. Yes, those were some of my favorites activities as a child.
Walking barefoot to me meant freedom, I still love doing it, I love the feeling when the dry grass touches and sometimes scratches my soles, the wetness whenever it rains, the warmness of the asphalt, the dirt color on my feet…very lady like behavior.
I did not own a ball. We used to kick empty plastic bottles. We used to collect empty cans of soft drinks or beers. We used to build robots from empty packs of cigarettes, hopscotch. As kids whenever we were looking for diversity, we traded what we had. We were all for one and none for all, getting constantly into fights, changing “gangs.” Today we were best friends, tomorrow we were the worst enemies.
Seek and hide? Ha, I was an expert! I had it in my genes since I was born in a country where there was constant war since the day l had my first breath on this Planet. We were trained by our parents. Whenever you hear planes, hide. Whenever you hear sirens, hide. Whenever you hear gun shots, hide. Whenever you see military cars or tanks on the streets, hide. It was our day to day normality, nothing awkward. Back then I didn’t know how those noises could scare me when I reached adulthood. How I end up having nightmares, how I hide myself inside my 22 square meters apartment whenever I hear fireworks or an alarm test. I panic whenever my smoke detector battery needs to be changed . I hate those noises; they scare the shit out of me!
I am sure you have seen some of the Discovery Chanel documentaries about the inhabitant animals. When I was climbing trees I was like a monkey. When I was fighting with a kid from the neighborhood I was a tiger chasing her meal. No matter how many times l fractured one of my bones, bled, I never stopped. Nowadays it is called perseverance. To me it is simply unconsciousness. Oh crap, l am starting to be my mum! I am grown up. I am an adult. I have changed.
The Decedent was born and raised in the western part of Germany. Highly educated, good family background. To me he was the idiot savant. A sharp mind captured into someone with no social skills, no empathy. Same goes for his sister. The parents were okay. They were like a family to me. I was closer to them than to the Decedent. They supported and helped me in my journey in za Germany and among za Germans.
So, here’s how a conversation about how our childhood was.
Me: So, Decedent how was your childhood?
Me: What do you mean normal? Have you ever got in trouble? Did your parents beat you? Have they ever punished you?
Decedent: No! What kind of questions are those?
Me: So how did you spend your time with your friends?
Decedent: Nothing…I carried my computer to one of my friend’s house. He lived in the next village where my parents are living, and we played network games. At the age of four, I learned how install Windows on a computer, at the age of six, I played with table sheets and documents. At the age of two, I read short stories.
Me, taking a deep breath trying not to lose my temper: Come on…you should have got in trouble for something…every kid does.
Decedent: I wasn’t in any trouble!
Me: How do you find my stories?
Decedent: Your family is so odd. My mum never touched me. Maybe once she slapped my bottom because she didn’t allow me to spend as much time as l wanted on computer and she decided to take my keyboard, so l saved money and bought a spare one. She caught me.
Me: That’s it???
Decedent: Yes, and l took clarinet classes, l played tennis and I went hiking with my mum.
Me: I think I had a better childhood than yours.
Decedent: It is against the law to touch your child; you can end up in prison. I had classmates complaining about their parents to the teachers because they were not allowed to do what they wanted. Child protection was involved, sometimes even police…
Me: If I did that to my parents for the number of slaps and flip flop I had collected, I would not be here sitting with you.
Decedent: Your family is strange!
Me: I guess so…but they are still my family. At least at Christmas dinner we do not talk about medical insurance, life insurance, job opportunities, investments and let everyone know two weeks before what you would like to get as a present…while unwrapping the gifts we pretend that we didn’t know what’s inside and act surprised…(I literally hated celebrating with his family holidays, birthdays, Christmas or Easter, can you blame me?)
For us Christmas preparation meant the women in my family were cooking the specific meals for Christmas, at least 3 days before. We were dressed all nicely on Christmas day, my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, each with four kids. We ate all together. Adults got buzzed by the evening. Behind our parents back we were emptying the bottom of alcoholic beverages, watching a movie, dancing, playing games…It was fun. The non-fun part was that each time after we were done eating, we had to wash the dishes and the glasses, take the trash out and we could not comply, but we had no choice. Each kid had to do something.
On 25th of December we unwrapped the gifts which were nicely wrapped in newspaper by our parents. Every single year, we received only one gift. One of us would get a pair of socks, or a scarf, or a winter hat, or a book. With some luck we received a small amount of money (which rarely happened,) a post card with a small note written on by our parents, nothing special to you, but to me as a child was a big deal. All my relatives were slept at our house for at least for three days. Us, the kids, were building “houses” from the available blankets, giggling and arguing. Our parents would take turns to tell us to sleep and to keep quiet. Same ritual went all the rest of the days. It was a mad house… but fun! This tradition is kept in my family, except the gifts. We’re too old for that.
Anyway, back to the Decedent.
Decedent: Silenzio stampa!
Me: Battle won, moron!
A lot of times his mum complained about her children, that they do not call to check on them, to see if they are still alive. She kept telling me I wish my kids were as thoughtful as you are, always there for us. I envy your parents. I keep wondering what I did wrong that they ended up the way they did.
Me: You didn’t slap them when they needed a spank!
Despite the challenges l have encountered in my entire existence and my inherited genes I am proud of who l am. I am happy that I have not taken life for granted, that I learned how to fight for my rights, that l have always appreciated small things and all thanks to my parents.
The moral of the story is that we do not choose the country we shall be born in, the color of our skin. We cannot choose our family (unfortunately!) but we can make the best out of it. We can expand by accepting the past and become a better person. Remember, life is all about options!
Photocredit: Painting by Animas. She is a painter too. If you would to order a painting for yourself, reach out.