Elaine Cynthia Hassett: Childhood insights

Extracts from a short story written by Elaine Cynthia Hassett titled “Land of my dreams.” It is not known exactly when this was written, but the story provides some valuable insight into how a young Elaine viewed her early life in Bombay, India:

“I think i’ll start this little story with my childhood. Perhaps it might bore you a little and make you feel that I was someone quite uninteresting and maybe I was and still am.

My “baby” days were as I have always been told quite terrible for I was a very troublesome baby and gave my mother endless sleepless nights. My father always told me that he used to have to walk up and down the garden with me at 1/2 past 5 in the morning in order to keep me quiet.

I remember as a tot how I used to run to the gate to empty Dad’s pockets of anything he had in them. He always brought us sweets or other things we liked, and then he used to hoist us up on to his shoulders and come strolling home with his two naughty babies pulling at his hair. Yes, there were two of us, my brother was born a year and 10 months after me. But in one respect he was different; for where I was naughty he was good. But he also loved to ride on Daddy’s shoulders. We have always been very, very happy in just the simple things of life. We had to be in bed by 7, never remain when there was company, only when specially asked for. To remember not to talk too much at the dining table and always wish everybody we knew the time of the day, heedless of whether Dad didn’t like them or Mums thought them horrid. We were brought up, as some people may have said, strictly, but to us troubles to Mum and Dad there was never a reproach of a beating if we did have quarrels and fights with the children round about.

My home happened to be in Quarters for my Dad worked in the Customs and all my childhood days were spent there. We had a beautiful home with a pretty flower garden in front and a vegetable garden with a poultry run at the back. We always had plenty to eat and there was nothing we ever wished for that we didn’t get.

Now let me describe Mums and Dad to you before I begin my life story.

Mums has always been the sweetest and dearest person to me in all this world. She was plump, dark haired and had the prettiest hands I have ever seen. She was ever so gentle and ladylike and never uttered a harsh word or swore. She had a heart of gold and nobody ever asked for alms in vain or begged for food and didn’t get it. Mums helped everybody but nobody helped her in her time…”

Which is where the story is cut off. Presumably pages have been lost over time, but this short account by Nana, reveals a happy, loving home.

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