Monday, June 1, 2015

Ghosts from the past


Recently, I saw a ghost from my past. We are currently living in the city I grew up in, so sometimes I see people from my old life that I recognize but seem so far removed from who I am now. With some people I have reignited solid friendships with; with others I feel like I am seeing them from a distant galaxy. I always see these ghosts at the most ordinary but inopportune time.

If Maya and I are running errands together in the morning before school, sometimes we grab lunch on-the-go at one of our favorite spots. It was just a typical Monday when it happened, much like any other day. Maya was having her favorite avocado sandwich, and I was having my favorite tomato-mozzarella sandwich, and we were sharing a fruit drink together. She was playing with her toys, as I was skimming one of my many books from the library.

A woman sat next to me with her grandson. When she walked into the cafe, the energy around us changed - the woman was so tense and neurotic. Her presence disrupted the calm atmosphere. She started talking to her grandson, who was 3, in a condescending tone as if he was stupid. I instantly recognized her voice, more than anything. Her appearance was vaguely familiar, but it was her voice that startled me. It was my Grade 3 teacher.

I haven't seen this teacher since I barely survived her grade, twenty years ago. She used to constantly berate me, and it was no secret that I was the kid who she hated the most. For anyone else who has experienced this - it is not a nice feeling. Back then, it felt like a strange vendetta of sorts. The reason why I remember her, in particular, is because of what she did. 

I have always loved writing - my dad says that writing was always entwined in my destiny from the time I put my pencil to the paper. In my Grade 3 class, we were assigned to write a 4 page fictional short story as homework. I was so excited about the task that I went above and beyond, completing a complicated 14 page short story named "Jesus and the pets". It was a multi-dimensional story filled with familial strife, reincarnation, and gay storylines. It was simply fabulous and so creative (I know this because my dad still has it and we found it recently and re-read it).

Of course, my teacher absolutely hated it. She hated it so much that she accused me that my parents wrote it; and then in turn sat my parents down for a special meeting and told them that she suspected that I had a learning disability. Creativity was not allowed.

And here I am, twenty years later, sitting next to this old witch in a cafe. Overhearing her berate her only grandson, while constantly micromanaging him; and then complain for 30 minutes about her daughter-in-law, who is apparently a bad parent, in front of her grandson. Her condensation was unchanged, two decades later.

And here I am sitting beside her, unrecognizable as a grown woman with my own daughter. A published magazine writer, single-handedly running a successful blog, and my creative energy on overdrive - all day, every day. To say that I had a smug expression on my face was an understatement! Check mate...

In the end, I never said anything to her - although it would have been priceless to do so. I just eavesdropped since she was sitting right next to me, but found it too hard to listen to her incessant hovering and complaints, so I decided to leave immediately after we finished lunch.

It is strange coming back to the place where you grew up and seeing these ghosts, many of which used to hold such places of authority in my mind when I was young. Re-looking at them as a grown woman - who has experienced life and motherhood - gives me a fresh set of eyes and perspective. Many of these people who berated me for being creative - are flawed within themselves. And not only that, but they have zero authority. It feels good to leave these ghosts in the past, and rise above...

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Dear readers, have you ever run into negative characters from your childhood, as an adult?

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3 comments

  1. What a sad, sad life this woman has. She must be deeply unhappy and insecure if she needs to be empowered by putting down little kids who are helpless.

    Raina.

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  2. I am so happy that I never met any of my teachers of my past again so far. School life was terrible for me once entering high school (back then high school started at grade 5! and in 4th grade students were selected to which school they can go...) so from the beginning on the majority of my teachers said that I am not belonging to a high school and that I will have no good future, so I should concentrate on getting some handcraft job as soon as possible...well, once I was able to go to a Sports High School for my later years everything changed, I suddenly got good grades, all my weaknesses (except) math turned into my strong study lines and now I actually graduated fairly well, did a BA abroad and have a good job which I will eventually give up when my own business is doing well enough. Oh, How I would love to tell this to my teachers but then again I enjoy every day I dont have to see them :)

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    Replies
    1. Crazy Chinese Family, I can relate to what you are saying. I was once dismissed as a stupid girl who would amount to nothing by my teachers and my parents were advised to have me go in to a "vocation". I have no desire to meet with my teachers again (I am one myself today, ironic, isn't it?) but I get great satisfaction from the fact that those teachers were wrong.

      Raina.

      Delete

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