I come from a small community where everyone knows everyone’s business but no one ever lends a helping hand. Growing up in a small community with people who can afford luxuries but don’t care about those who can’t, broke my heart. I honestly never thought that people could be so inhumane.
I come from a home of just my parents and 1 sibling who is 6 years older than me. I wasn’t someone people would notice as a child. I was the kid everyone in the family took as a joke because of my dark skin tone. They would call me all sorts of names. At only 8 years old I felt imperfect. Instead of playing with the neighbour’s kids, I would hide away and I dreaded school because of bullies too.
I thought to myself, I’m just a kid and it would end soon, with a smile on my face as tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt ashamed of myself.
I love my parents dearly, they gave me whatever they could afford. Eventually my mum lost her job when I was just about 10 years old, a few months later my dad lost his job too. We struggled, and having an older sibling that always wanted what his friends could afford humbled me. I’d never ask my mum or dad for anything, I felt their pain. But my brother would pressure my parents with ultimatums to get his way and somehow always got what he wanted.
I was taught that if you don’t have something stay without it. My parents were suffering and I could see the pain in their eyes, it killed me daily. From having cheese on my bread to days where we would eat dry bread and have a cup of tea for supper. I would never even question it because that same loaf of bread they provided kept me full at night.
I would never ask for anything, not even a sweet, I knew when they had extra they would always buy me a little gift. As my teen years hit, I felt disliked even more by the kids at school and in my community. I believed it was so much better being fair-skinned than being an Indian.
Having no money eventually took a toll on my parents. They fought on a daily basis, their whole personas changed. They got frustrated with each other and at times they would say it would be better if they didn’t have any kids. It hurt my feelings hearing them argue, my brother didn’t care much because he was hardly at home and preferred being at his friends’ house. I knew it got to him too though because he became hostile.
From the age of 10 my parents couldn’t afford to buy clothing or shoes and we lived on handouts from family members. Until this day I appreciate them so much because I remember where my first pair of shoes came from and my first day of high school uniform came from.
As time went on I told myself I needed change, I needed a positive atmosphere. I always enjoyed doing things for myself, I love being independent. I knew at 14 I needed to get a job, do something to try and make some money. I couldn’t go too far out looking for a job being so young, so I decided to do some chores for my grandmother and she would pay me every weekend.
I would give my dad the money for food. My parents always had to find jobs which left me home alone most of the time. When I got home from school I had to make my own food, do my own washing and clean the house and make time to finish my homework. I started falling behind in school from being exhausted. It was my first year of high school and I felt like I had the world on my shoulders.
Whenever I got home from school, and if there was nothing for my brother to eat, he would beat me up. But the beatings were constant and most times for no reason at all. I would just think this is how siblings are meant to behave but this was no play fighting, he would beat me with anything in front of him.
He would beat me on the face with a cord, drag me across the floor by my hair. He would kick my stomach until I could barely breathe; I was horrified by how he treated me. I’ve always been scared of him so I just did whatever he told me to do.
Tell us: Do you think money can change people?