My first memory is this:
Lights are flashing around me. It is mostly pitch black but every now and then a blinding light pierces the darkness. A black cape is fluttering in front of me and occasionally brushes against my face. Cruel yellow fangs come closer and I hear roaring. I grab the long weave of the woollen carpet and cry howling. I am afraid to death.
What a beginning, what a way to begin to become a human, to collect memories, to gain perspective.
Often you look back to memories outside yourself, like a photograph. ‘There I am standing in the sun and smiling even though ice cream has melted around my face and hands’. In my first memory I am definitely inside my body. I can’t tell who or what I am, how old I am or what I am wearing. I just am there, mortally afraid.
I have a message to parents wishing to protect their children from bad first memories: do not leave children under 4 years of age to be taken care of by prepubescent sisters, half-sisters, cousins or neighbours’ girls.