Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Earliest memory of perfect happiness

I was in Standard Four, studying in Bunge (pronounced Boon-gay) Primary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. On the days that my dad didnt pick me up from school, I used to walk home in the evening. I guess the school wasnt very far away from home (although I'll have to go back one of these years and look at it again from an adult perspective).

One of those evenings turned out absolutely perfect - cool, gently breezy, with rainclouds building up and the footpath shady with all the trees lining the roadside. It was a long straight road and there was nobody else on it. I remember picking up a small leafy branch that had little red berries on it and skipping along singing songs aloud. I didnt even feel the weight of my school bag - at least not in my memory. Of course I didnt know what made me so happy - I just knew I felt light-hearted and content.

A couple of weeks later, after school, one of the girls in my class (we'll call her "S") said she'd show me a new way to get home. She wasnt the nicest of girls usually, and I was a bit dubious about going with her... but I didnt know how to say "No" - and truth to say, I was somewhat afraid of her because she was a bully. Anyway, S led me away from our normal route into the residential streets around the school. A few twists and turns, and I was pretty much lost. (Yep, my inner homing pigeon never hatched. Very likely it got lost too). At that point, S said: "I'm going to leave you here, you'll never get home", and then she ran.

Of course I tried to follow her, but she must have hidden herself because when I turned the corner, she wasnt there. Being the brave, adventurous type of child (not!), I only blubbered a little before trying to wend my way back. Naturally enough nothing was familiar. At some point S materialised again (she must have been following me, watching to see what I would do - the sadistic monster!) and I distinctly remember telling her "I dont like you!" and then marching off without looking back.

Luckily for me I eventually recognised a street as one that I passed on my usual way home - that was a huge relief. Perhaps S was just being meanly mischievious and wouldnt really have left me there and gone home herself - I'll never know. But I'm giving her the benefit of doubt because I'm a nice person.

Anyway, because I was so upset, I tried to make myself happy like I had been that other day. I picked up a branch, skipped a bit and tried to sing happy songs... but it just wasnt the same. For starters, it was a very warm, muggy evening. And then there were no rainclouds, no cooling breeze and I most certainly wasnt happy. I know I was puzzled why it didnt work, why I didnt feel lighthearted again. Eventually I gave up and just walked home. I guess that was the day I realised - although probably not in so many words - that you cant manufacture perfect moments at will. They happen when they happen, and that's it.


I wonder if I can make this a tag - the bit about the earliest memory of perfect happiness, I mean. The few of you who visit this blog, please take it up and do a post about your earliest happy memory, wont you? I would love to read about it. Thanks in advance!


meerkat said...

what a nasty piece of work this girl was. quite devious to come up with a plan like that. i am a firm believer that most people's personalities are shaped quite early and she would have grown up to be quite a horrible person

anyway you made it home and i guess that feeling of freedom and happiness cannot be surpassed because that memory will linger and be enhanced over the years


shyam said...

Meerkat: She's one of those hard, arrogant - but brilliant - people who've done VERY well career-wise.

CW said...

You're still in touch with her??!

meerkat said...

no amount of career success will make her a less nasty person. i know you are implying that her attitude has helped her get forward.

Shyam said...

CW: No. But I get the occasional update from my mom, who knows her mom. :)

Meerkat: Actually she IS academically brilliant. Got yards of degrees! Doesnt make her nice, it's true.

Anonymous said...

hey, is that who i think it is? does her dad's name begin with ur brother's real name???? oh, do tell, i wud love to have one more reason not to like her (not that I do even now)- G