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I was born in the city of Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, West Africa in 1978. My mother is Ghanaian and my late father was of British Nationality, but ethnically Indian. My parents met in Ghana, courted, fell in love and married. I am the second born of five children, one of whom is adopted. I have four brothers. In 1984 I immigrated to the United Kingdom with my mother and siblings, to join my father. Although not shy, I was an extremely quiet child. I spoke only when I deemed it necessary to do so. My naturally reclusive nature was not helped by being a sickly child. I had Scoliosis (curvature of the spine), I wore aback brace for most of my formative years, I bruised easily, I took longer than normal to heal, I had asthma, I caught every contagious illness that came my way, and I was in constant pain in my bones and joints, in what was later diagnosed as arthritis. I spent most of my early childhood being physically limited. Although I was able to walk, my walk was comical to say the least. To add insult to injury, I found it difficult to digest many foods because of my overly sensitive stomach, allergies, suffering from gastrointestinal acid reflux and trapped wind which resulted in a lot of chest and stomach pain. My mother did all she could to ease my pain and make me comfortable, massaging me and putting hot towels on my joints for hours on end – whilst simultaneously downplaying my physical limitations, and encouraging me to do anything and be anything I want. Unfortunately for my mother, she discovered that my medical issues would be the least of her problems. It was rather my quietness, my reclusiveness, my lack of conformity, my disinterest in making friends or in human interaction, and my extreme appetite for learning, which would prove to be what she deemed unusual about me. From the age of four, my innate interest in observing myself, my mind, my thoughts, human behaviour, nature, the cosmos, the phenomenon of life, and understanding ethical issues, ignited with full force in an obsession with educating myself which went beyond the norm of childhood inquisitiveness. I was fascinated with all in existence, animate and inanimate and had an unquenchable desire to know and understand the essence of things. I wanted to know how all matter came about, its constitution, why things behave the way they do, the patterns identified within their life span, why things exist and if certain things optimized existence. I craved knowledge not for its own sake, but so that I might understand matter, objective reality, meaning in existence and strategies of optimizing existence. I acquired vocabulary, the rules of language, and reading and writing skills with extreme speed and I devoured books like they were food, with acute attention to detail. I had little interest in human interaction beyond that of civility. I first wanted to study human beings academically, understand human beings academically, before moving on to the practicality of human interaction after I had ascertained the best ways in which to relate to people. Amongst my peculiarities was my disdain of having my picture taken. As a child I used to scream whenever people took my picture. And when I was asked for a picture of myself by family or friends, I gave them pictures of trees and leaves, stating that there is little difference between me and a tree. My personal photo album is still composed mainly of nature shots. Needless to say, I was an odd child. It should also come as no surprise that I had few friends as a child. My attempts to play with children failed, as I was more concerned with understanding reality than engaging in fantasy. Witnessing the seriousness of my nature, my unusual disinterest in human interaction, and my obsessive academic pursuits, my mother tried to integrate childhood activities into my life in order to generate some normality in me. When these failed, she adopted some unconventional methods to pull me into the practicalities of life and the necessity of human interaction by appealing to my humour. I believe my mother missed her true vocation in life as an actress and comedian. She was both deliberately and unwittingly funny. She would say the most bizarre things to anyone without hesitation or embarrassment just to make me smile or laugh. She is one of the funniest people I know. Her teaching style was to bombard me with questions, often providing amusing answers to lessen the weightiness of the point she was making to me. She also discovered the other things which could get my attention – Kung Fu films and Performing Art, particularly music and dancing. My mum didn’t show me any special favours because of my physical limitations; she involved me in housework, she taught me to cook, and she empowered me to be all I can be in spite of my physical challenges. She wanted to ensure I would be strong and make it in the real world without her. What my mother wanted for me is what most mothers want for their children: good health, good friends, a good career, a good life partner, healthy children and ultimately my happiness. My mother was my friend when I had no friends and was uninterested in making friends. She patiently pulled me out of my mind and helped me to develop the interpersonal skills I was lacking, whilst giving me to space and time to be my awkward self – and for that I’m truly grateful. By the age of eleven I had gained the fundamentals of the answers I had fervently sought to my questions regarding objective reality, the nature of things and the essence of my ‘self’. With this knowledge came great peace and my quest for knowledge adjusted to a standard pace of learning. When I found peace, I found joy, and when I found joy, I found my voice. With my understanding of reality came a world view which was forever tinted through a lens of ease and humour at the phenomenon of life itself. My ability to play and my love of babies, children and people, my love of the arts and my appreciation of every moment flourished. When my younger siblings and cousins were born silliness sprung out of me in abundance to keep them entertained. In my pursuit of understanding reality I found the detailed answers to my questions in the fields of science, psychology and philosophy as an adult. One of the things that bothered my mum was being told by strangers that she is not my mother, because I do not look like her. I was claimed by many strangers as a native of their land. Eventually my mum humorously began identifying all “my people” to me, whenever she saw someone from a country in which a person had previously claimed me as their own. My mother worked as an English teacher when she lived in Ghana. When we immigrated to London she changed career and worked as a special care paediatric nurse until her retirement in 2012. She lives in London and is currently enjoying the fruits of her labour in retirement – the favourite of which is spending her time doting over her grandchildren. My mother is a devout Christian. She is also the best cook I know. I have Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis and Fibromyalgia. One of the things that has helped me cope with the challenges of my health is my sense of humour. I simply love to laugh. I will laugh at anything funny, including laughing at myself. I had a medical crisis just before my mid-twenties which left me in and out of consciousness for the better part of two years. The first two years after I woke and remained awake continuously were spent intensively on rehabilitation in everyday activities such as eating, walking, talking, reading and writing. I began writing books meant for publication in my early twenties, before my medical crisis. From February 2002 until the last week in March 2014 I did not write a single creative thing, nor did I add any words to the books I had previously started. When I recovered from my medical crisis and resumed my life, my focus was my financial survival and the mental and physical health of the children that came my way. It is now June 2014, it has been twelve years since I stopped writing. I am now in month three of my writing career in which I have written and published “Mum Knows Best” and a series of short poems online. I met my ex-husband at a conference towards the end of year one of my recovery. We dated mainly with me in bed or hospital. During our marriage, I remained incredibly ill. Unfortunately he did not see me recover. Most of the anecdotes in my book “Mum Knows Best – Witty Conversations with my mother” are from my memories before the age of nine, with a few in my teenage years and with the latter chapters focused on my memories from the age of 24-35. If you read the book, I hope you enjoy my mother’s wit as much as I do. IF YOU WANT TO ASK ME A QUESTION ABOUT MY LIFE PLEASE READ MY F.A.Q PAGE FIRST AS YOU MAY FIND I HAVE ALREADY ANSWERED IT THERE. IF YOU STILL HAVE A QUESTION FOR ME PLEASE POST IT ON MY F.A.Q. PAGE OR EMAIL ME AT firstname.lastname@example.org. THANK YOU.
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|© 2014 Veena Nankani www.veenanankani.com My web content, posts and pictures may be shared on social media but may not be used for commercial purposes without my consent. Veena Nankani - Author of “Mum Knows Best”, Life Coach, Nutritionist, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Poet, Professional Reviewer and Entrepreneur.|