If you've been reading this blog long enough, you would know that my childhood is not exactly normal. It is statistically normal but still considered as a cultural taboo. I still don't understand this. In some cases, divorce is inevitable in a marriage but yet, the aftermath that takes its stride soon after is an unquantifiable mystery.
I'm greatful to have enjoyed the first 10 years of my life with my parents still together. My childhood at this very important stage, was in tact. Unlike my brothers, they have very little recollections of what happened during their childhood. It was as if their first decade was craddled in a formula 1. It happened so fast that they themselves, to this very day, could not comprehend the gravity of their past.
Although granted with a relatively happy childhood, I was denied of its namesake. Everyone thinks that reminiscing about my childhood is a painful ordeal, so to save me from any more pain, my past is treated like an empty void. I hated being a subject of pity so I pretended that the divorce didn't affect me at all. I used to put up pictures of my family on the wall everytime we move to a new place (we moved a lot since the divorce) only to be scolded by my mother.
"Kenapa Afiq letak gambar your father and umi dekat dinding."
"Sebab ada Afiq, bapak dan umi lah.."
For her, that picture might have represented broken dreams, unfulfilled destinies and unrealised hopes. But for me it was a picture of my family. Umi became vengeful to a point that anything related to bapak is deemed unholy and taboo. I don't see why my mother can't put aside her anger to let me cling on to my love of my family. My family. I have a family and it is mine. It might not be hers but it's mine so I became increasingly defensive of my past.
By then I began a habit of tracking old pictures and hiding them for safekeeping. I put all the pictures of my childhood in a box and carried it everywhere I go. To school, to an island during vacation and anywhere that required me to pack a bag.
Unlike many children raised by a divorced single parent, I refused to go through life with an unspoken past. How will one carry on walking forward without the knowledge of the tested paths? With my childhood safely guarded in a plastic case cellotaped in a shoebox, nothing can ever overwrite my childhood. No tahfiz, no drunk chinaman, no addicted gambler, no, nothing can ever tarnish the fact that I was happy as a child.
But in truth, I was not always happy.
No, I was mostly miserable as a child. I had a normal but traumatising childhood. I won't go to further details but my childhood was shrouded with suicide attempts, shouting, fighting and a lot of unforgetable consequences of conflicts. Sometimes I think my brothers are more fortunate for not being able to remember their childhood because I remembered every minute of it. Every single burst of emotions, every scar on my body, everytime I forced myself to shut my ears and eyes is always, always a thought away.
I live with the pain of hiding my pain everyday. I realised today why people around me will turn a blind curb when talking about my past. It is painful to reminisce. It is better to keep the subject of my childhood a forced secret. I myself never attempted to properly bind all the old photos in an album. Instead, the photographs are stacked, only revealing a smiling facade; an indication of happiness inconceivable to me.
I know this seems unfair but the only way for this pain turn to a thing of the past is to have both my parents reconcile their differences and stop fighting. I want to sit with them in the same room and ask them why they acted the way they did after the divorce. Why couldn't they settle their difference for my sake? Why?
Why can't they just let me be happy?