Being human…

Human beings often astonish me with delight, or disgust me with their actions in equal measure.  This is a sliding spectrum of course.  You don’t either delight me, or disgust me. Occasionally, I’m totally indifferent with you as well, but you know what I mean.

I’ve said it before in previous posts, but kindness totally overwhelms me.  I’m not talking about material things that people give – of course, that’s always lovely.  It’s when people actually think about you – have spent time to think about how to make your life better, that I find absolutely incredible.

I’ve mentioned in posts before that because of the nature of our lives at the moment, we never have time to look after ourselves properly, let alone think about others.  So when people have even had the time to be kind to someone else, that ‘gift’ of time, is something extra special.

I was driving my girls and my mum back home from London last night.  We’d had a gorgeous day at my sister’s house, we played and laughed and enjoyed ourselves so much, that took me back to when my sister and I were little. It was one of the days that was good for the soul.

We were driving back on the M40, the sun was starting to set, the clouds were hues of pinks, oranges and crimson, there was just a huge expanse of space and countryside for miles around, and at that time (as you would expect on a Saturday evening), not many other cars driving along. The girls were peacefully nodding off in the back of the car, dreaming of the wonderful day that they had had.  Mum and I were having a quiet chat about things.  But mainly, I was thinking….

One of the reasons why kindness from others always feels so extraordinary to me, is because when we had been growing up, we hadn’t received much of it from others.

My father died, leaving a gaping hole in our lives.  My mother’s side of the family were all in India and we only had my father’s side of the family living here.  Even as a little girl, I hadn’t felt much warmth  or love from anyone from this side of the family.  Now that I am older, and when I have time to think, I can completely see why they were as icy and enjoyed belittling people as much as they did,  At that time though, I just did not understand.

After my father passed away, the first link in the chain of events that occurred subsequently, was that everyone took advantage of my mother’s devastated state of mind, and got her to sign blank documents – assuring her that they were going to take care of everything.  All that she needed to do, was look after us.  She trusted them. Unwittingly though, all the insurance money that my father had left behind to take care of us, had just been signed over to my father’s side of the family….so we were left with nothing.

Luckily, the insurance policy that my father had taken out, meant that the house that we lived in was paid off and nobody was able to touch that.  But everything else, was taken away.  My mother was confused with what was happening – but she was still trying to come to terms with what happened, my brother was still a tiny baby, and everyone around her, was assuring her that everything was under control and everything was fine.

I still think about those times.  With total incredulousness.  Even if I didn’t have a huge belief in God and karma –  I cannot comprehend the cruelty of people in that situation. A brother/son has died – unexpectedly, aged 33.  He leaves behind a young widow, with 3 small children, the youngest is 6 months old….and instead of rallying around them….your own flesh and blood – you decide that this an opportunity to take their money instead?

People call each other animals and beasts don’t they, as an insult?  Honestly, I think that this is unfair to animals.  You see herds of elephants, tigers, cows living together as one, They look after one another.  Humans – they don’t.  Often, humans are the worst, most basest of creatures.

When my mother realised what happened – and this was a couple of years later….she started questioning what was happening with the finances, she started questioning what happened..very respectfully.  And this was when all hell broke loose.  Everyone insulted her, called her all sorts of vicious names; insulted her family; called us (her children-all kinds of terrible things)…and she snapped.

One of the things about being an Indian woman who shows respect to people – is that people underestimate you.  Showing respect to others is seen as a sign of weakness – or meekness.  So when people that my mother had shown the utmost respect to, attacked her for simply questioning what had happened to the finances that had been left behind…and started calling her a whore, her parents all kinds of horrid names…and that her daughters would be whores when they were older too…..well….they simply did not realise what she would do next…

You cannot comprehend how difficult it is to stand up to bullies.  There is nothing harder than being isolated. Bullies are powerful because of their numbers and the resources that they have available.  Because of the experience they have in the way they operate, they are always a few steps ahead.  And they work extra hard at making you miserable because it’s just so blinking enjoyable for them.

My mum decided that if they weren’t going to give back what was rightfully ours, she would have to take the legal route.  By doing so, we were permanently ostracised and exiled from the Bengali community as far as my father’s side of the family had reach.

The years that followed were gruelling.  Isolated.  No money.  An angry and hurt mother.

Although it was incredibly hard – and I’m not describing it because I’m simply not able to.  I don’t have the words.  Knowing that your extended family hates you.  Knowing that they are saying disgusting things about your mother.  Knowing that they have told people that we (her children) would end up on the scrap heap.  They say adolescence is hard enough.  Try throwing a legal case, and family feud into the mix…

It was the cards that we were dealt with though – and that’s what you play.  All I knew was that I was determined to prove everyone wrong.  You call us whores?  We’ll show you!  You say that we will make nothing of our lives?  We’ll show you!  You say that our mother will cry herself to sleep every night?  We’ll show you!

And we did.

The best revenge you can take on anyone else – is by making your life successful.  Be determined to make your life a success.  The haters will always stay where they are – nothing good will happen for them.  And you hold your head up, work hard, be that fireball and work at becoming successful – and the very people who spread rumours about you…they are the ones who will have to hide their faces with embarrassment.

Every so often, my mum bumps into members of the Bengali community.  Every so often people that were told to stay away from us, go up to her…and sing her praises.  Congratulate her on how far her little family has come.  Congratulate her on how single-handedly she fought against her oppressors.

I’m not a ‘woe is me’ type of person.  I’m not a victim.  I never want sympathy or pity from anyone.  My experiences are what shaped me and my family.  Those adverse circumstances brought out the best in us.  We became warriors- using our energy positively.  Knowing that hard work and determination pay off.  Knowing that you never back down to bullies.  Never be intimidated.  Don’t believe the crap that people say about you.  Pay no heed to the good they say either.  People’s opinions are fleeting.  They change according to who appears stronger at the time.

What I know is this….I went through a tough upbringing – where people were not kind.  So I value and understand the meaning of kindness – and practise it.  I haven’t allowed myself to perpetuate a cycle of selfishness and being cruel to others.

What I also hope is this…anyone who is going through difficulties at the moment, where other human beings are making your life hard.  This will pass.  It will pass.  You will get through this, having learnt a few lessons.  This experience will change you.  Make you tougher, stronger.  But know, that everything will be alright in the end.

And to those people that bully, and steal, defraud others, make other people miserable and get some sort of perverse joy from it….You disgust me.  And I give you the worst thing that I could possibly imagine…..my pity!

My final word is this…growing up, my mother always taught my brother, and sister and I this…  On your hand, you have 4 fingers and a thumb.  Individually, each finger and thumb is weak and can be broken easily.  When you pull those fingers and thumb in to create a fist – the fist is strong and is a force of strength in itself.   Amongst the many lessons in life, I’m so glad that our wise, warrior mother taught us this.  Stick together, love each other, look after one another.  God bless.

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