August 28, 2007

Papa, Why?

Sometimes, we wonder why we think or feel about certain things as we do--how we develop concepts in our thinking, forming memories that trigger particular emotions--emotions that, sometimes, affect every aspect of our lives, when we least expect it.

For instance, when I was very young, I had a pretty little doll. Santa Claus brought it to me. The doll had a little rosebud of a mouth, and in the center of the rosebud, a little round hole, just large enough for a tiny, plastic nipple of a bottle of water, from which the doll, supposedly, drank. There was another hole in the doll, in the center of the buttocks.

When I examined the doll, I was very impressed. Now, Santa's elves were smart little creatures to think of putting a hole for the water to drain out of, because I thought that if you kept letting the doll drink water all the time, that it would fill up with water, if it didn't have a place to drip out, again.

One evening we had company. It was someone related to Papa, my step-grandfather--a brother, I think. Wanting to be nice, and to gain Papa's approval, I decided to show my doll to the company, which was a hard thing for me to do, because I was very bashful. Besides, if he stayed in a good mood, he wouldn't fuss so much at Big Mama.

Trying to be very courageous, I brought out the doll, and while displaying it, I explained that the hole in the mouth was for the water to go into, and assuming that they knew that the other hole was for the water to drain out of so that the doll wouldn't become full of water, and wanting to get the whole thing over and done with as quickly as possible, I simplified the matter by saying, "It goes in one end", and lifting up the dress, pointing to the hole there, said, "and it comes out the other."

Papa suddenly leapt from his chair, grabbing my arm, jerking my feet off the floor, spinning me around at the same time, and began to spank my buttocks and my legs with the open palm of his hand. Over and over again, making loud smacking sounds, taking my breath away, seeming to go on endlessly.

Finally, he sat me down hard on a chair, and said, "Now, ain't you ashamed of yourself--acting ugly like that!" I sat there, everyone's eyes upon me. Hot, scalding tears poured down my cheeks, turned red with shame and humiliation. I tried to think, through the stinging pain coming from the big, palm-shaped red welts, now covering my legs, why I was supposed to be ashamed of myself.

Later on, lying in bed, tears still streaming down my cheeks, running into my ears, I could hear Papa fussing at Big Mama, far into the night--berating her over "Sarah's young'un actin' ugly like that," and saying, "Sarah needs to be kicked to hell and back for giving her vulgar stuff like that!" But that didn't make any sense at all--hadn't Santa Claus left that doll for me? And I still couldn't figure out what awful thing I had done--but it must have been awful, because now I felt so sick and ashamed.

My doll was taken away from me, and disposed of because of my shameful, and vulgar, behavior. It was sometime later that I realized what that little hole in the doll's bottom was supposed to be, and what the water that came out of it represented. I was pretty sure that they knew, too, which was probably the reason that Papa was so angry with me--but I wondered why nobody bothered to tell me. Some things you just have to find out for yourself. The hard way.

But it's funny, I never felt the same about Papa after that--and the next time that he put his hand under my skirt, and touched me, "down there, " I was going to tell Big Mama. No matter how much he said, "If you tell on me, I'll whip you good!"


Anonymous said...

my daughters "granny and pawpaw" used to berate her good for saying "oh my gawd", telling her she should never ever take the Lords name in vain. Then pawpaw molested her with granny's knowledge.
Needless to say...well, divorce happened and there was no more contact.
I detest holier than thou people.

Jan said...

Yes...and there are many of them around.

How very sad for your daughter,and for you...I hope that things are going well for you.

Thanks so much for stopping by..and please come again.

k said...

Why is it that so often, those who commit true moral outrages themselves act so morally offended at expressions of innocence?

Jan said...

Guilty conscience, perhaps?

Vin De Vine said...

Guilty conscience indeed.
Evil abides, but ignorance engulfs the world even today.
I don't often understand what makes a mind tick. How can two people growing up side by side, experiencing the same events develop such different outlooks in life? One finds ignorance and strives to overcome it, another embraces that ignorance like a security blanket.
And always someone suffers.

Jan said...

Life is about choices, and there will always be wrong choices which bring pain and suffering upon others.

It is hard for me to understand, too, how anyone can deliberately harm another, physically, or emotionally.