by Madeleine Kando
When I was very young, I was free from my past simply because I hardly had one. Like all toddlers, I was building my past at lightning speed, adding to it daily, constructing my past as if I was a born engineer. Had I known then, that a few years later I would want to tear down this painstakingly erected edifice, I could have saved myself a lot of hard work. I could have sat on my toddler hinie on the couch, eat toddler chips and watch Teletubbies.
My past started to become a burden at the ripe old age of four, when my family moved from my native Hungary to Paris. The little past that I had created, made me stand out. I was the 'other'. Four is pretty young to realize that your past is not acceptable to the people around you. I spoke French with a weird accent, my clothes looked funny and in the process of learning how to navigate the four-year old dominance hierarchy of my new country, my non-native past was as useful as a sandbag in the desert. 'Haute-toi!' my class-mates would say. Move! I obliged, not because I knew what the words meant, but because playground body language indicating that you are not wanted is universal.