Saying Sorry – Part 4
I was jettisoned through time and space as Carly’s thoughts bounced from present to past. The vividness of the recollections were increasing, so much so that I was struggling to distinguish myself as a separate entity. I was thinking (she was thinking) about her childhood. But they weren’t glossy memories of GAP kid fashion, swings and playground smiles. They were about The Programme…
It was the most insidious training devised that penetrated our lives. Male and female – all were treated with the same rigour. This went way beyond basic “spy-dom” and infiltration. We were literally grown from seed for this.
The clever part was, there were no secrets. At least not from us. We were born into “normal” lives, with parents, a two-up two-down, primary school, middle school, high school and even some after school clubs like tennis or hockey. It was in the evenings that we received our reminders of not being normal, through our “parenting”. Every day was a lesson in toughening up, to let go of acceptance and bonding with other humans.
By the young age of 10 I’d become an obsessive perfectionist, trying harder and harder to obtain the illusive words, “Well done! I’m proud of you.” But they never came. I remember the day I thought I’d finally hear it, rushing home to share the news.
“Dad! I got 100% today. In Algebra!” I waited wide eyed for the congratulations.
“Did anyone else get 100%?”
“Yes two other people.”
“Who were they?”
“Vicky and Peter.”
My dad thought for a second and looked at me unimpressed, “Well it can’t have have been that hard then.”
He watched closely for my reaction. Any signs of weakness or sadness would result in punishment. I hid the death of my excitement and resolved to myself that I must find a way to be better than everyone else in the whole world and maybe then I’d be good enough.
The training never let up and age didn’t dictate what we were subjected to. I was only 6 years old, preparing dinner with my mum when she started teaching me Japanese. It was so hard and confusing. I kept misinterpreting the Kanji characters. But she always showed me subtle glimmers of kindness even though she wasn’t my birth mother.
“Remember. You’re special and that’s why you’re on this programme. The key is to remain calm and strong no matter how difficult a situation looks. Persevere and bide your time to find the right moment to act.”
30 minutes later, in my bedroom I was expecting the call for dinner and instead was startled by the sound of my parents shouting furiously downstairs. I crept to the top of the steps. The lounge door was closed. I heard slaps and screaming. I didn’t know what was going on. My breathing quickened. My thoughts raced. Then everything went quiet. Should I call the police? Should I stay calm and wait? The pause felt interminable… Then CLACK! The handle jolted down as the door flew open.
My mother strode out, make up smudged, hair a mess, a small cut on her lip. She looked sternly at me from the bottom of the steps, pulled her sleeves up and showed me her arms.
“These bruises are real,” she stated in a matter of fact tone. “So what are you going to do?”
Surely I was too young to know. But I was expected to know, and there were consequences for not knowing.
“Well come on!” she demanded, “Are you going to say something?”
Read the next paragraphs and second part of chorus here!