Author Topic: The Quest - Childhood - Lucia Osborne - Mountain Path, Oct.-Dec. 2009.  (Read 1023 times)

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43569
    • View Profile

To say that childhood is the best and happiest period of one's life is a cliche'.  Children lack a sense of proportion and
though they live in the present, they can be desperately unhappy.  Life is seen in stark black and white.

From the talk of my sisters and their friends, I gathered that one's appearance: face, figure, form, being attractive or
beautiful was of paramount importance for happiness and here I was, a squat little figure with a prominent chin, a nose
like a button, and a forehead already starting to wrinkle with worry.  I must have had a very strongly developed sense of
perfection and been far too sensitive or self conscious of the way I looked and was deeply disturbed by imperfection. 
One should be perfect.  I felt almost guilty compared with the rest.

My mother was the only surviving child out of seven or eight and was brought up, so to speak, in cotton wool.  Lovable and
lovely she was, although incapable of running a household and so things went on in a happy-go-lucky way which was far
from happy with a generous, gullible, improvident father, to add to the disarray. 

One of the rooms in our house had a large, old fashioned mirror and the moment I opened the door I was confronted with my
outer reflection and the inner dismal reflection following as a matter of course.  In my teens, things improved a little.  For one
thing O shot up suddenly, became proficient in disguising my shortcomings and, what is more important, I realized that the
other values mattered more than just mere good looks.  People's faces are like mirrors.

The questions 'What is the purpose of life?', 'Why are we born?'  began to occupy my mind. One day I felt strongly that I was
missing something of tremendous importance that I began running in the street under its impact.   I did not know what I was
missing nor who I really and truly was. Surely there must be some stability behind this unsure vacillating creature being censured
inwardly by whom?  By what?

Different from other children, I was teased that I must have been changed by the wet-nurse with her own baby or another
one. It seemed to have been the fashion at the time for mothers not to nurse their babies but employ healthy peasant women
straight after confinement as wet-nurses, who nursed them with their own children.

I learned to read practically on my own;  I am not sure how.  Someone must have shown me the letters and how to form words.
I still remember how astonished my mother was when one day she got hold of me to try to teach me the alphabet and discovered
that I could read!  Books opened  new worlds for me.  I identified myself with the characters and lived the stories which were
more real to me than life.  'One could shoot around her and she would not notice when reading.' was the comment of my  mother.
In this I followed in her footsteps.  She found her escape from problems in reading, always reading.  I remember Zola and
Maupassant, books which I used to steal from under her pillow at night, hidden most probably on my account.  Under the
curtained kitchen table, with a candle for light one could read unnoticed.  However little I understood, seems to have been
enough to absorb me.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43569
    • View Profile

continues.....

Two stories enchanted me:

Pharaoh was sitting on the highest terrace of his palace with a crystal ball in his hand which had a peculiarity that in
whatever direction he turned his gaze, the scene approached him as if on a screen and he could easily see and hear
what was going on.  It was time for evening prayer.  Pharaoh saw through his crystal ball a man stranded in the desert
praying to God for some rain.  Another scene showed a peasant in prayer for good weather, without rains, to protect his
harvest.  Somewhere else he saw two armies fighting, each side two armies fighting, each side praying for victory.  A
thief prayed for an easy haul and the householder for protection from thieves.  All these conflicting prayers went up in the
shape of birds of varying hues, met midway, fought and fell back to earth.  Amon-Ra was sitting on his heavenly throne,
impassive, no prayer reached him.  Then Pharaoh turned his crystal in a direction, in which a hamlet appeared, a woman
was calling her little boy to prayer: 'It is getting late, you good-for-nothing, come quick.'  When the boy was brought in at last
he folded his hands and prayed. 'Thank you Amon-Ra for the palm trees which give us lovely dates to eat and for all other trees
which give us fruit and shade and for the birds which sing and the flowers which look so bright. It is enough', he said to his
mother, jumping up to resume his play. 'What sort of prayer is that, you good-for-nothing,' his mother said but his prayer went
up into the sky in the shape of a dove, not encountering any obstacles and nearing Amon-Ra's throne the dove sang in the voice
of the little boy, 'Thank you Amon-Ra for the palm trees which give us lovely dates to eat.'  Amon-Ra heard the prayer, opened his
eyes and a ray of light fell on the earth bringing relief to all the afflicted. 

Another story which I loved to read and re-read was about a mother who was very ill and her son, who wanting to save her,
set out to find the water of life.  In his wanderings he came to a hill at the foot of which dwelt a very old man in a cave.  From him
he got the directions on how to reach the source of water of life. He was advised to go straight to it without looking right or left
and not to be distracted by whatever may happen on the way.  If he deviated from his straight course, he could turn into stone
as many others have done.  Having thanked the old man he set out.  Many stones he saw on the way.  Beautiful singing reached
his ears, and his mother's voice calling him but he plugged his ears and went on.  Suddenly there was a huge fire in front of him,
he plunged right through it and the fire was cool.  He went through a flood which threatened to engulf him but it disappeared like
a mirage.  At last he reached his goal and having drunk a little of the water of life, he felt completely restored.  He filled his jar with
water in a hurry to return to his mother and on the way, sprinkled some of it on the stones which came to life,.  They all followed
him and elected him as their king.  Thus he returned to his mother whose life was restored.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   
                                 

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43569
    • View Profile

continues.....

At school, I lived in a world of my own.  Introspective, oversensitive, self conscious;  life created problems.  Learning
came easy enough.  The helped a bit.  One of the girls was particularly beautiful; large blue eyes, golden wavy hair
and perfect features.  Just as my idea of beauty.  That she was rather stupid did not seem to matter.  I was wondering
how ti would feet to be so beautiful and whether we could change over at least for a while.  Would it be the brain (mind)
or the heart which would be derisive for the change if it could be transplanted?  I could not decide which.  Am I the heart
or the brain?  Who am I?  Who is watching?  I watch myself being envious, resentful, having happy or worrying thoughts,
disapproving (mostly of my own ways) acting up to people so as not to disappoint them, to please them, not so sincere,
uncertain always uncertain.  Surely there must be something steady not vacillating in one.  Who is watching and judging?
Who is trying to fight laziness and not succeeding? Who am I?  Who am I?

This question kept on coming up again and again and nobody to answer till one day my mother said, 'If you want to know
so much one day you will know.'  It helped.

After finishing school I enrolled at the University of Warsaw to study astronomy.  Mathematics was my 'forte', not all
composition of languages and yet out of necessity I acquired several a most Polish people tend to do.  Like in most things,
later in life, I was also frustrated in studying astronomy as things at home came to  such a pass that it became necessary
to start work immediately.

When Arthur came down from Oxford his travels brought him to Poland, Katowice where I was working at that time as a
translator and secretary to a general manager of an international combine of heavy industry, supplying among other things,
armed components, occasionally to opposite fighting armies.

A university professor from Krakow arranged English courses in Katowice with Arthur as teacher.  I joined this course.  Arthur
attached himself to me from the start.  Unpractical, charming, obviously vulnerable he needed looking after.  I did not yet know
English, and so we communicated in French.  His food, which made him ill, needed changing among other things.

After a time, he proposed to me but I had no intention of getting married to him as technically I was still engaged to somebody
else, a young Czech with whom I was not in touch at the time.  It was I who suggested that we should not see or write to each
other for a time till my feelings crystallized themselves and then I became disillusioned and unhappy when he did not even write.
Torn between attraction and repulsion emotionally I was in a bad way.  One particular night I prayed with all my heart just to be
at peace, not torn by such conflicting emotions nor any emotions subject to change.  Arthur must have been the reply to my
prayer. 

In the end this led to our marriage which proved a blessing,  Arthur expressed it for himself as a foreshadowing of divine Grace.
It was so for both of us.

chapter- concluded.

Arunachala Siva.