When I was about 5–I could have been younger or older, but obviously I can’t remember–I was playing with the next-door neighbor kid, who was my age. We were pretty much good buddies.
That day, we decided to go up to the roof of his house (we lived in Calcutta and there was a fire escape-type staircase to every flat roof, which must have been a construction norm of the time.)
Unfortunately, his sister, who couldn’t have been more than two, decided to follow us up the staircase. It’s unclear why the people responsable for watching her were not around. I remember debating–and if you will recall I was only 5 and have no memories other than this one from that time period–that perhaps it was not a good idea to have Robin (I still remember her name) climb the stairs behind us. But, being 5, we shrugged it off. Robin climbed the stairs behind us, and all I remember today is hearing a sound like a branch cracking, then looking over the stair railing and seeing her lying there in her white frock with a very large pool of blood growing around her head. It’s literally like a painting within my skull.
“She’s sleeping,” I remember telling her brother, and then hearing the frightened shrieks of the servants. Robin died, being pulled off life support (as it existed in 1964 in India.)
Question is, what might an incident like this have to do with my present-day behaviour? Could it have made me more aggressive, fearful or untrusting? I guess it must be like some kind of post-traumatic syndrome or other. What happens to a child who witnesses such horror at an early age?
I think I’m pretty normal but it worries me to think about the ramifications that this thing had on my tiny brain, as I now raise a tiny boy myself.
It’s a haunting memory that I would not wish on any child.