Recently we’ve been watching tenko which was a drama series made in the late 70s about women held in a japanese prison of war camp. the last series is all about what happens immediately after they are released and how difficult they find it to live outside the camp.
this got me thinking about how being sent away to boarding school affected some of us. Before I continue I should point out that in no way do I compare boarding school with the attrocities which occurred in the prisoner of war camps, but it did displace us more than many people would realise.
In the series, one woman in particular was unable to go back to married life as it was as the camp had changed her so much. she ended up divorcing her husband.
For me, boarding school wrecked family life. I went away first at the age of six, only returning home at half term holidays and main school holidays. Suddenly I was different. Even my accent had changed because i’d been influenced by the people I was with. Later on I was very bored at home in the holidays when I was too old to want to play with my sister, as I had no friends at home. This made me into probably a very difficult teenager to live with.
As a younger child, I was faced with my sister finding it difficult when I returned from school. She lived the life of an only child and was suddenly expected to share with me when I got home. when I was upset by this, I was often reprimanded and told to think of my sister and how difficult it was for her to adjust to me being there.
As a teenager I had endless rows with my mother for being difficult. I was often met with remarks like, “You’re not at school now”, or, “I bet you don’t behave like that at school”. when I was at school, I wanted to be at home, and vice versa. I felt displaced in both environments.
As an adult after leaving college, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to go back home, or to my home area. i’d left and that was that. Now my parents and sister live close by each other but i’m 150 miles or so away. their lives are similar and interchangeable, where mine is completely different. when family problems arise, I’m not told, much as I wasn’t when I was away at school.
I’ll always be different and I suspect that I’m not alone amongst people who went away to school and left siblings at home. I left school 26 years ago but the legacy lives on and probably always will.