One of the questions mentioned in the book (Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen) is ‘How would you write about your childhood?’. And well, since I’m a writer, I figured this would be the perfect exercise for me! So here goes, buckle up for roughly a thousand words on the topic of ‘Mrs. Vana’s Childhood’.
My Childhood (Snippets By Maria Vana)
I sit at the table, in front of me there is a plate filled with mashed potatoes and oven-baked sausage. I don’t want to eat, I have no idea how it started but now the food is cold and I dry heave at the thought of it. I fall asleep next to the plate, using my arm as a pillow.
I suppose I was a rather typical child, not cleaning my room when told to do so, rebelling against my big sister, even running late from the curfews that were set for me. Oh, to be a child again and be so sucked into play with a friend that I forget I should’ve been home half an hour ago! Though I don’t miss the following spankings nor the inevitable bicycle accident that occurred on one such evening. Thank God I was wearing my helmet as a good girl should.
I often wonder why I was not doing my part in housework such as cleaning my room, as it did not seem to do anything to sway me on the proper human’s boat to have my mother go through my stuff like a hurricane after she finally got fed up with the disorder. I always thought my room was sort of organized, but very much in the way I wanted it to be – you know, it’s not like I personally had any issues finding the hidden pins and studs in the mountains of clothes!
He had told me not to lean on it, but I did it anyway. And of course, it gave under my body. The fear rushed into me as I hid behind the bed, crouched, and my sister faced him. She was brave to stand there as he tore the closet door from its hinges, roaring about the damages. The door was fixed soon after, and never again did I lean on it.
One thing I can say for sure is that the fear of punishment from my father was way greater than the fear of punishment I’d get from my mother. Not that either of them was dishing out punishment too much. At least, not that I recall. It was more about the general idea of being a disappointment I think, as all the spanks, the cutting of my sim cards, grounding… None of that really made me not repeat the same behavior.
There was nothing scarier to me than to disappoint my father in any way, as far as I remember. I am still very much in that same state, which is why I can have casual calls with my mother and have day terrors if I even have to think about speaking with my father. I wonder why I was always so hell-bent on not bringing shame to the family? Did I watch Mulan one too many times?
It’s midsummer, we are at my aunt’s lodge by a lake. The gnats pester me and my cousin, and we keep diving away from them near the peer. The adults are talking about who-knows-what, and at some point, my uncle reaches into the spout on the edge of the sauna’s roof to fetch another beer. We warm-up, and go back to screaming at the gnats.
It shouldn’t be this difficult to come up with good memories, warm memories. And even this one was tainted with the idea of beer. It has become my arch-nemesis of late, alcohol I mean. Before this snippet I had at least five others that I didn’t write, I don’t know why, maybe I don’t want to depress my readers, even if this is a case study on myself more than anything.
How bizarre it is, that when I look back, I see mostly negative memories, something shadowed by fear or shame. And even if it is a good one, it is instantly torn by some form of claw that scrapes at it as it melts away into the oblivion of torment. Much like my memories with my first friends.
I had lost my phone. I couldn’t remember where it could be, and I think they thought I’d just lost it like my keys. I lost things. That’s what I did. And of course, my best friend of years calls me and tells me she has this amazing new phone! Later on, she comes to play and shows it to me. It was my phone. I’d know that custom case anywhere. Later on, my mother’s piggy bank got raided.
I never told anyone she stole from us. I think I just took the blame for it, the fall so to speak. I wonder what my parents were thinking when these things happened. Did they even notice? Or did they just assume it had to be me?
I didn’t share a lot of things with my parents. I don’t think I told them anything major unless I had to since they would’ve found out anyway at some point. Even with my self-harming habits, I was able to hide up till an ex ratted me out to them. I was sneaky and smart. I never harmed myself when it was about to be swimming season in school.
My friend and her mother escorted me to the meeting point. He was there with some of his friends and hugged me as we saw for the first time in real life. The river ran muddied, green, and filthy. A raggedy person walked up and down the side of it selling roses to unsuspecting people. After that, I only saw him once.
I don’t know if I ever told my parents about that either. It was my second boyfriend as a teen, one I met over the internet (fancy that, I met a lot of people from the internet, even my amazing husband!). I don’t know if they thought I was just having a trip with my friend and her mother.
As it stands, a lot of my childhood is blank. Emptiness. I recall details of things, mostly bad things, mixed with some good ones. It’s like all of my past is shrouded in a fog, almost a toxic mist at this point. Whenever I look back, it hurts. My friends, family, relatives – the whole journey just covered in spikes and traps I don’t really have the energy to start unraveling.
And what has it brought me? A present where I can’t attempt something new without feeling like a failure. A present that is haunted by the shadows, and the prickly tendrils get on my path at every turn, making sure that my toes get their fair share of the dramatic showcasing of my past.