When I Was

When I was born, I was a ray of sunshine, your first born, your pride. I was a baby girl with the cutest little round head, button like nose and rosebud lips. I rarely cried and was as good as gold. You named me after music and the rain.

When I was one I spoke my first words. You clapped in joy and pointed at the picture of a crab, which I had pronounced perfectly. I called Papa first before I called you. I tottered around with you close behind, ready to catch when I fell. You were astonished as to how I grabbed a pen the correct way, like an adult would, even though I was only a toddler. Maybe it was a sign of things to come, of things that I would be.

When I was four I was the joy of your life. I was smart and pretty and fearless and obedient. I went to kindergarten happily, read all the Enid Blyton books you bought me, and took part in community story telling like I wasn’t afraid of the stage. The world was my stage. You saw wonderful things in me, the girl I would grow up to be. You were the centre of my four-year-old world, and I would hug you every morning with a kiss on the cheek.

When I was seven you sent me off to the first day of school with a heavy heart. I was surrounded by unfamiliar faces, but I was unafraid because you were just outside the window. I picked up languages quickly, as if I was born to it, and I made friends easily. I skipped to school in my blue uniform and white shoes, and you thought of how quickly the young ones grew up.

When I was ten I was the top of my form. I came in first in class so often, you got used to it. No more patting of the head and a job well done. You expected to see an A on my report cards and nothing less. I practiced the piano til my fingers were sore. I didn’t want to let you down, so I played, and I studied, and I laughed and was the popular kid, the smart kid, the perfect child you expected me to be.

When I was thirteen, we shifted to a new place. Everything was different, and the people were mean. They caught me after school hours, carrying my books. They jeered at me for being a foreigner, one who was different, a stranger in a strange land. I ran back home and told you I wasn’t happy. You told me to suck it up. That was when I decided I’d never tell you anything,anymore.

When I was fourteen, I got to know a crowd. They accepted me for who I was, or at least I thought so. I was desperate for friends. I smoked and I skipped school and almost got expelled. You didn’t even notice.

When I was fifteen I experienced teenage love for the first time. He was a boy I had known since I was nine, and he was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. I thought I would never need another anymore. I couldn’t tell you because boys were bad and you would never let me date someone. I was naive, and he cheated on me for another girl. I tried to kill myself. You didn’t even know.

When I was seventeen I had sobered up and returned to my studies. I did really well for my high school final exams, the deciding one that would be the pillar of my college entry. I was proud of myself for the hard work I had put in. You told the other parents that I was lazy and didn’t do well compared to those who got straight As. That was a moment that crushed my self-esteem forever. I was hungry for your recognition, for some sense of pride, for you to just show me you were proud of me. Like how you used to beam when I was a child of four and I stood on that stage to a crowd and told them stories. I missed the you you used to be. I couldn’t find you anymore.

When I was eighteen, you set my life course for me. You knew best what you wanted me to be, that would give a steady income and a stable job. You never stopped to ask if that was what I wanted. You shunned my choice when I said I wanted to learn art, and you said you would never fund me if I was going to take it. I ended up taking writing instead. You would berate me for years to come on this choice. I had forgotten what it was to feel loved, because I couldn’t feel the way you were reaching out to me.

When I was twenty two I turned into a woman. I made important choices and I landed my first real job. I travelled to far away places and came back a different person. You knew I was gonna have to leave the nest someday, and you were afraid. You tried to keep me from leaving, in the name of protection. You played the guilt card. You cried, you manipulated, you were unreasonable, you said hurtful things which nothing can turn back.

When I was twenty-three, there was nothing.

When I was twenty-three, we drifted apart forever.

I tried to salvage it, but I can’t see how I can anymore.

“You shut me out, so I shall shut you out.” was what you said.

The thing is, I was always here. I just wanted you to look at me the way you used to.

I wish I could be your ray of light again. Your pride and joy.

But I just don’t know anymore.

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