As I’ve mentioned before, my earliest memories are from age 3 and are set in a in small town called Meerut in North India and they revolved around the army and apples!
My Dad was in the Indian Army and his battalion was based in Meerut. Sadly, I have no memories of how we got there but my brothers do. We travelled by a special train with the whole battalion of soldiers from Hyderabad, in South India to Meerut, in the North of the country. From what I hear it was quite an adventure and since we were the only children on board we got a lot of attention.
Back to my memories of apples.
Apples and Honesty
My brothers set up a tent in their room with old bedsheets. As part of the adventure, they went now and then to raid the neighbour’s apple trees. One day, since my parents were not at home, they took me along. I was sworn to secrecy. Since I love apples, I had no issues with their means of procuring them! They took me over the wall. One brother, Marcus, was a look out while the other, John, broke the apples! I stood around waiting eagerly. We got our loot, headed back home and into the tent to eat the most delicious, freshly picked apples. How I enjoyed the adventure and the apples!
When Mom got home she came to the room to find us and ask what we were up to. I told her how much we enjoyed the apples! The next thing I know, my brother, John, being the mastermind, was on his way to the neighbour’s house to tell the old man that he had broken the apples and to apologize to him.
I’m quite certain John still holds a grudge for me telling on him! But that’s another story for another time.
The other apple story comes from my brother, Marcus’ birthday party. I’m guessing it was his seventh birthday as my Mum had a thing for throwing us a big party on that birthday. In the midst of the party, a strange man appeared at the side door and asked my Dad’s orderly to point him in the direction of the birthday boy. I remember is him handing over a briefcase to Marcus who looked very pleased with his present. Then my father appeared, looking furious, and told my brother to give the briefcase back. The man said, “Yeh baba ka birthday ke liye hai. Bache se wapas nahi lethe. Is me kewal fruits hai.” (Hindi — it means — “This is for the small boy’s birthday. I can’t take it back from a child. It has only fruits in it.”). He proceeded to open the briefcase and I spotted the shiniest red apples in it along with walnuts and other dry fruit! I think I was more disappointed than Marcus when my Dad insisted that the man take it back and leave our house!
It was only later that I realized the man was a contractor who had made a bid to supply groceries for the soldiers. As the final purchase decision rested with my Dad, the contractor had come over to try and bribe him in a subtle way!
There were lessons in honesty and standing up for what is right to be learned from both these incidents.
I would love to say that I was always honest, but that would be untrue. I’ve come to realize that fear often made me dishonest. Hiding, pretending, and sometimes outright lying to get out of a sticky situation – these are things that I’m not proud of.
I know that I’m working on being more honest, open and fearless. I’m learning to stand up for the truth and what’s right. Learning that it’s infinitely easier to live with myself when I’m honest and authentic.
This is Day 34 of My 66-day Journey of Healing Through Writing and Sharing.