Blood Lies Creeping


It appears from her past that she never has been able to establish a basic trust with anyone and still remained unable to suffer and vulnerable to losses and separations in a dangerous way. (Excerpt from psychiatric notes, 1982).

I repeat a pattern. I get involved with someone or a place and cannot let it go even if it is unhealthy. Already I am attached to Maldives such that the thought of leaving fills me with dread. I imagine this goes back to when I was born. My mother was in a sanatorium with tuberculosis so I was looked after by her sister, my auntie. My mother had been a gorgeous baby who won shows and later, turned into an Elizabeth Taylor lookalike with long, black wavy hair and dark blue eyes. I was an ugly looking baby with a fat, featureless face and a caste in the right eye. Ironically it would be fair to say that I was vain from an early age. As a toddler I had to wear great big glasses with the left side bandaged to correct the squint. Routinely I hid the eye-ware under rocks or, in the absence of gravel, in my pants. I was very secretive. One day I poohed my pants and tried to hide this by washing them under a cold tap outside. I think I was already frightened of my mother.

When I was two I went missing overnight and was found in one of the half-built houses in the area. For years when I was young, I had a recurring nightmare which had me in a small space trying to keep clear of troops of spiders. Then I would wake up down at the bottom of my bed. I put this down to the ‘missing’ episode. My father’s family believed my mother was behind the missing, the story being I had run away because home was so awful. This theory held water as mum did threaten to murder me on a regular basis. Not when others were around of course but I now know she did not hide her dislike of me. I often thought about how life would be if she died.

By way of a fresh start we moved down south to a small town where a dam was being built. When I was three my brother shot a home-made arrow into my eye. Mum had to take me to a proper hospital 120 miles away in a taxi. Later dad came and took her home. I stayed in the hospital for a week on my own and when the family came to collect me, I refused to leave. I performed all the way home including a colossal paroxysm in a tearooms. I preferred to stay in hospital because it was better than home. When I was nearly six we moved back to the city. Again I cracked up as I wanted to stay with my friend, Carol, who lived across the road. The pattern was set for the rest of my life. Having found something a little bit nice, I cannot not live without it. When I was five I had to stay, again by myself, in hospital for a week to get my tonsils out. I didn’t want to go home after that either.

That first taxi ride cost a fortune. Thereafter, not spending money on me because a way for mum to punish me. Punish me for what though? The time came when mum stopped buying me anything new even as far as second-hand suspender belts. I had to use old sheets when I got my period. She would make fun of me by saying she could smell the blood or that some perfume I had somehow acquired made me smell like I had my period. She would warn me not to drip on the floor. The worse thing was the terrible pain I would be in. I never had time off school or given any painkillers or taken to the doctor. Sometimes I would dry heave with pain and other times the pain would get so intense I would have loud ringing in my ears. I never actually collapsed even though often I thought I would.

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