Photo 6 – How am I not dead?

At the end of 2013, I began a photographic story showing the state of the home I lived in with my father. I received many responses to these pictures. Mostly reactions of horror from people I know, who never really knew the extent of the conditions we lived in. They had never been witness to it. My father was very clever at disguising certain parts of the house and his dangerous eccentricities and careless nature were always well hidden. Friends and family were only allowed in the showy and presentable parts of the house. I however, saw the truth every day.

The kitchen was one of the worse rooms. It also happened to be the largest room in the house much to my father’s happiness (he saw it as his domain). Guests who visited always commented on how big it was; he loved that. But what if they had looked closer? Would they have seen the dirty and crumb filled toaster from,

(See My filthy life – Photo 3)

would they have stepped into our adjoining garage and discovered his hoarding obsession?

(See My father the hoarder – Photo 2)

Would they have walked around and seen the state of the cooker? A piece of kitchen equipment that I used every day living at home with my father. An appliance that I could not do without. An essential aid to making my life as normal as possible, something that would bring me sustenance and provide me with a basic human right. But what if that appliance was spoiled, unhygienic, unsanitary and rank? What if you were forced to use a machine that hadn’t been cleaned for ten years? It was another task my father had placed in my list of chores to do. A list that went up to eighty four. A mental list that I never lost count of and never completed. My father refused to help in any way. It was not his job. It was MY fault it got into that state and MY responsibility to resolve the tainted problem. Except it was too much for me. He gained so much enjoyment watching me on my hands and knees scrubbing his precious kitchen. I could not stand the humiliation and fearing the examination of my work after.

Why did I ever let myself live like this?

I mean, how am I not dead?

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Dictionary.com

un·san·i·tar·y

[uhn-san-i-ter-ee]  Show IPA

adjective

not sanitary; unhealthy or unhealthful; tending to harbor or spreaddisease: unsanitary living conditions.
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Welcome back Ma.

This week will finally mark the return of my mother from India. It has been a long five weeks without her. That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed some quality time with my husband or a chance for independence – I have. However, the feeling of being in her house for so long without her makes me anticipate what it’ll be like when she really has gone for good. Yes, how morbid but I can’t help feeling that way.

Most thirty one year olds would dread the prospect of returning home to their mother. Not me.

Growing up, we never had a connection. Even into my early twenties did the barrier remain. There were ample opportunities to move to my mums’ during the abuse yet my father’s emotional hold was too strong and my unnatural loyalty to him was keeping me back. She has always criticised that choice, the choice to stay with my abuser. In my mind, I just clung to hope. A lost hope that he would change into the father he used to be. That is why I stayed so long.

Have I enjoyed these last few months with her? Yes. More than I thought I would. I wish we had spent more time together when we both were younger. It is upsetting to imagine the years we wasted.

I can’t wait to have her back.

See you soon Mummy xx

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5th August 2012 – The Awakening.

Well, after the previous phone call and epiphany, I was about to get another awakening from my father.

Once again, he picked a phone call to break the news.

This time it concerned my future.

His will.

I really didn’t want to know. I’d rather have waited till his death. But my Dad wasn’t that kind of man. He wanted to cause drama, to upset people or to get a reaction. He didn’t have an ounce of sensitivity or decency in his body. I tried to explain that it was inappropriate to talk to me about the content of his will at that time but my words fell on deaf ears. He ignored my request entirely and proceeded to announce to me a clear summary of what he intended to give us.

He made it very clear as what I was to do with my share of the money. I was to put the whole amount on a deposit for a house. There was no arguing the matter or I would not get the money. He threatened that if I did not agree to this that he would change the will at the last minute.

I never wanted anything from him.

Never.

I hated that he was still controlling every decision I was to make. It angered me that even my future was falling under his power. I remained silent on the phone, holding back the tears and anger waiting to explode. He always hated my silence. He called it “insolent” and I could feel his insults building up down the phone from his heavy, stilted breathing.

“Why are you taking so long Babitago? It’s very simple. You are thirty years old and you do not even own your own property. You must put it all on a house. Do you understand?”

“Mmmm,” was the only response I could muster through the tears.

It pacified him for the time being. I allowed him to believe he had the power. What was the point in fighting him? A sick man, lying in a hospital bed struggling to breathe. Even I knew that fighting him was the wrong thing to do as much as I berated myself for it.

It also came to my attention during the call that I was to get the lowest share of the will.

So he finally got his revenge on me. He was to continue his punishment, his anger and betrayal even after his death.

I was pretty shocked but almost relieved. I don’t want to associate the rest of my life with that man. I don’t want to be thankful to him or grateful. I don’t want to feel as though he saved me.

I want to save me.