Something good will happen I tell myself again and again. Something good, to counter the fear that I will not succeed.
I must succeed to counter that feeling of failure when the analysts chucked me out; to counter the feelings I had as a ten year old when Mother Mary John told me I had failed mental arithmetic in grade six; and again in my first year at university when Delys Sargeant told me I had not answered the question in my mid term essay on social biology and unless I did well enough in the exam I would fail the subject.
I was home alone studying during swat vac when Delys Sargeant rang. I had not overcome my earlier style of learning and so I pored over my lecture notes and tried to rote learn the lot.
After the call, I was sure I would fail, so sure that when the exams were over and they pinned the results to the notice board in the quadrangle at the University of Melbourne, I could not find my number and so I decided I had indeed failed.
I told myself it was okay then. I was planning to live with my boyfriend and thought that I might be pregnant. I was not yet on the pill. I could not know I was pregnant for sure because I had not had a period for over a year, not since I finished school and stopped eating.
To my mind then unprotected sex did not matter much. My mother had told me that women stopped menstruating during war time because they were starving. It was nature’s way, she said, to prevent more babies and conserve limited resources.
Still, I reasoned, I could get pregnant. One of my university friends, Helen, who had starved herself even more than me, became pregnant. She had already left her teacher training to become a mother. I could become a mother, too.
That would be something to do, some consolation for discontinuing at university.
See this tree, it reflects my feeling: a single blossom during autumn on a tree whose leaves have not yet fallen but were burned to a crisp during the hottest of summers. A flower out of time, out of place.
Or is that a touch too melodramatic?