Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tales of an unusual childhood: 2

My five year old sister cut her fringe.  Big chunk out of the middle of her thick, brown fringe.  She did it with her little friend who lived next door.  They thought it would be fun to cut their hair together.  Under normal circumstances I don't think I'd even remember this as much of a big deal, because every family has one of these stories.

But we were due 'home' in a few days and all my mother's planning that we would look decent (despite having lived in the middle of nowhere in India for three years) fell apart.  I remember a lot of worry about what we would wear on the plane, sewing new dresses so that when we stepped off the plane we looked OK - trying to convince everyone in Australia that we were still normal.  Untouched by life in India.  Not deprived.

But then my sister cut her hair and my mother's efforts seemed in vain.  I have a strong memory of getting off the plane in Sydney, walking across the tarmac in our new beautiful dresses and my sister having an extraordinarily short fringe where Mum had tried to even up the great chunk of hair she'd hacked out.

And it didn't matter.  No one cared.  Our family just wanted to see us. And our beautiful new dresses seemed shabby in the light of shinyness of Australia.  My grandmothers took us shopping and bought us new things.

So much more than our dresses showed that we had been entirely changed by India.  My sister opened her mouth and she spoke with a strong Indian accent.  She did Indian dances to entertain the grandparents.  I wanted to sleep on the carpeted floors because we had no carpet in India.  When offered fizzy drinks, I just wanted water 'out of the tap'.  I couldn't get over how amazing it was to drink water straight out of the tap.  I loved drinking milk because it wasn't buffalo milk and it didn't have to be boiled and wasn't all stinky.

That fringe still makes me laugh ...

2 comments:

Graham and Heather said...

The hair disaster obviously left a greater mark on you than on me. No doubt Mum remembers it vividly!

Deb said...

Oh, my chest was gripped with anxiety on your mum's behalf just reading that story!!!

When we arrive in Australia, I was about 7 and a half. I had an American accent as a result of mission boarding school. My grandmother was not pleased and instructed my mother to make me speak properly. I was busy being amazed that Australia, my "home", was so clean and so wide. But it seemed rather empty. "Where were all the people?" I wondered.