Oct 18, 2011

Childhood Tales: Of OCD and the sheep (never) jumping over the fence

The good thing about growing up in a family with four children and lots of cousins, I realized, is that minuscule childhood problems are never blown out of proportion.

When I looked back, I realized I suffered from OCD when I was a kid. My parents never even knew that my meticulous peculiarity was a disorder. In fact, I was treated as a kid with propriety despite growing up with three rowdy boys.  So my parents were happy that I was a neat kid who couldn't stand mess.

That was far from it.

Looking back, I knew it was a case of OCD with the way I can't fall sleep until my books are all changed and arranged according to the time table for the next day. Even after going to sleep, I'd promptly wake up in the middle of the night if I didn't have my school bag in order. Once my dad caught me in the middle of the night  changing my timetable for the next day, rummaging in the dark.

I hated the shape of the rhombus during Geometry class because I want everything to be at perfect 90 degree angle. I got into deeper trouble with the hatred issue when we started studying the other shapes like the pentagon, hexagon and others. I crushed many an egg attempting to make it a perfect round shape than the shape that it already had and I had a problem with irregular shapes and patterns that all my Krismas kawr for around 5 years were either checked, striped or plain. Everything has to be in sync!!!

The worst thing I could remember was me refusing to step on a line, any line at all including imaginary lines. I'd never had a toe or heel peeping out when I walk up and down the stairs and I thank God that my feet were still small enough to fit in the squares when we had that checked carpet in our house.

My OCD walk used to happen in the path down near Tennis Court in Aizawl. I'd walk up and down that path every Sunday on the way to and from the church. There were huge concrete blocks laid end to end covering the drain which was used as the footpath. While walking on the footpath, I'd take extra care never to step on the line which joined the two blocks. My brother, after finding out my careful walking, pushed me and made me step on the line. I cried that day, and walked up the same path to take another walk down the footpath without stepping on the lines. I must be around 7 at that time. 

No wonder I was so good at the Butter Cheese game because I never ever ever stepped on a line!

This floor tile would've drove me crazy when I was 7!!

I was also that kid who always tossed around in bed unable to sleep. Milk and honey before bedtime never worked so my mother told me to count numbers till I fall asleep. Counting numbers... could never count beyond a hundred because my mind would stray to more interesting things. My brother later told me to count sheep jumping over the fence instead. It never worked, it kept me more awake.

For I was too busy creating a prefect setting - the wooden fence by the old toolshed, half-broken, weathered by the monsoon rain with green green moss slowly creeping over the side. And the sheep never jumped over the fence because I reared fat, clumsy sheep who tripped on the fence and instead of jumping over it, and fell into the big muddy puddle just by the fence. 

Then, I would run with a hose to clean up the dirty sheep, soap up its wool and hose it down. Then I'd sometimes decorate it with ribbons, sometimes put lipstick on them, sometimes make them wear 'ram hmangaih kawr' and take them to the battlefield against the pigs!! Sometimes I'd sit them down in a straight line and teach them how to sing. I have never seen a sheep in real life, but I have countless memories of washing a sheep, putting bows, makeup and countless success stories in teaching sheep how to sing!! 

And my brother introduced the sheep to help me sleep!! Sigh!

Pic: www.123rf.com

So I was a kid with OCD and much too active imagination. What's with me now?

Forget about crying when I stepped on a line, I would sit on, push and even draw a new line now! Maybe there's a little OCD in me somewhere which would surface now and then. I still sleep only in plain bedsheets but last semester, I went ahead and bought a printed bed-cover which does not have a geometric print. My first in many many years! But if there's anything that kept me up half the night, It's definitely not the OCD!!

The imagination still stays! Though not vivid as it used to be, and it hardly involves singing sheep, it's the one thing I'll always cherish even though it still keeps me up... most nights!


Khabezuma said...

EWE are a good writer..lol..Nice read...:D

diary said...

I had something similar to what you described, but not as bad! Jumping over imaginary lines, not stepping on cracks, perfectly clean floors. Even after I grew up I didn't change too much, one of my friends said I was like Monica Gellar of 'friends'. I can't stand mess :)

blackestred said...

Being a guy, my OCD-ness is a bit different, I can stand clutter at home to some level, but when I do clean up, it's gotta to be an all out effort..
And in my version of counting sheep, its not creating the scene that keeps me awake, but rather creating rules and specifics... like, the sheep behind cannot jump unless the one ahead completes the jump, and should the sheep form a circle so the the one that just crossed the fence joins the line at the end, or should they be in a straight line, and if so, what happens to the sheep that just jumped? where does he go? how high would the fence be? what if some sheep is unable to jump over it... The last one usually messes up the whole vibe and I have to start all over again from the beginning... reliving memories helps me sleep better and faster..