Words written in the secret book
Between the covers, I should not look
Within the pages I stole a look
Words so harsh every bone shook
The Truth Within. M.S. 1989
As I am sure I have mentioned previously I’m convinced my mother knew that the diary had gone missing and given where she had found me hiding I’m further convinced she knew that I was the person who had it. Why do I think she never came forward and asked me if I had it? Doubt! That one niggling little thought that if I didn’t take it then where else could it have gone. Over the years I’ve thought about it many a time and I’m sure that convincing herself I had the diary was better than thinking of alternatives, especially the thought that our father could have it.
What he’d have done to her if he did find such a thing I do not know. I also do not know if she continued to write a diary after the first one went missing, if she did I never found it in the same hiding spot. But for whatever reasons I got away free and clear with that diary. For many months I read that diary when I was alone, not brave enough even to tell Herod I had it, I struggled reading a lot of it thanks to Mum’s cursive script and the words that were beyond the mind of even a clever seven year old, as I was told I was. But what I could read filled me with enough fear for my father that I knew things in my own mind would never be the same.
As I got older and was able to understand more of the diary I also began to understand my mother better and see her in a completely different light. She was no saint, far from it, in her own words she admitted multiple times to letting our father punish me, until his anger subsided. I understand that at times she felt powerless against such an angry man who thought the world had done him wrong, but she also admitted to delivering her fair share of father like punishment when he was not available to do it.
I guess it was around about that time, somewhere around my eighth or nine birthday, when I started reading Mum’s script easier that I began to loose respect for my parents. Reading what mother wrote, what she, although more often my father, thought I deserved as punishment and what they delivered whenever they felt like it never seem to hit home in my mind. That was until I felt the pain in the words my mother had written in her diary. It was a pain that I didn’t know could be delivered in words alone and a pain I would not feel again for many years until I started writing my own words. However through all that I think she genuinely did feel sorry for at least some of what she had done.
Like I’ve said before I knew no different so up to a point I didn’t know every other child on the planet wasn’t coping beatings when they stepped out of line. I didn’t know other children weren’t being forced to read the bible when they got in trouble and I didn’t know that other children experienced parental love with cuddles, hugs and other such intimate feelings.
All I knew was what happened in our house, but my mother’s diary changed all that. The diary alone wasn’t enough but it was the catalyst that made me start looking outside our small suburban house. It was when I started noticing that other boys were able to wear shorts, even school shorts, because they didn’t have bruises that they ‘deserved’ on their legs, or when I saw them in the change rooms after sport and they didn’t have bruises and welts in their upper torsos. That was when things really started to click into place for me.
Up until then I was told, as I believed Herod was despite the fact he never seemed to have the need to hide his legs, that my punishment was what I deserved, what I had brought upon myself. It was also something that I was never to speak about because speaking about it meant I had not learnt my lessons and those lessons would need to be delivered a second or third time, each time getting worse until the lesson was learnt.
As I just suggested Herod never seemed to have any issues with wearing shorts, he never seemed to have any bruises, but again it wasn’t until I was able to read mother’s diary and started noticing more of what went on around me, especially at home I realised there was good reason for that. It wasn’t written in exact words but I did begin to find a slightly cryptic method to my mother’s writing that suggested Herod never received the same punishments for anything he did no matter what it was. Between that cryptic meaning and a new awareness of what was happening I began to see it for myself.
Herod was the golden child. Herod could do no wrong. Herod was the chose one and I was a curse, a mistake. For much of the time I was invisible, I slipped into Herod’s shadow and was not noticed, not seen until they needed to see me. Then I became the target of their anger, their rage and the emotions that they could not offer to anyone else and all of this was because I was the second born child.
But as I have said before until that time when the jigsaw pieces all started to fall into place and a larger picture was becoming evident I knew no different. To me that was what family was, that was what home life was, and I just learned to live with it.
So before my tenth birthday I began to see a lot of things that I hadn’t before, it was like I had been released from a bubble of my own existence, a bubble created by my father the failed minister whose last wish on earth was to make his own family suffer, well at least the child who in his mind caused it all.