My Childhood

Dolly Sen as baby

Dolly as a baby 

I was born in 1970 in London, the oldest of five children. I am from a mixed heritage: my father is Indian and my mother is Scots-Irish. My childhood was not a happy one: Physical, emotional, mental, sexual abuse, racism, poverty, neglect, bullying were daily occurrences. Despite this, I excelled academically and had very close bonds with my siblings. 


I learnt very early to become hopeless in order to protect myself. I remember only having 3 hopes as a child: one, to be loved; two, not be abused; and thirdly, to have a bicycle. “You’ll get one when you’re good,” Dad promised. Birthdays and Christmases came and went – no bike year upon year upon year. All I wanted was a bike. Seeing other kids riding their own bikes made me so jealous. Just imagine being promised something you really want 1001 times, and not getting it 1001 times. Soon I stopped wanting … anything.


There is the argument that psychosis is a biochemical disease. I am not so sure. If the mind has to endure feeling extreme terror, day in, day out, whilst the brain is growing, or be a child that is sometime tortured, raped, or left alone for days, where there is not sanctuary internally or externally, what can the mind do...

Dolly aged 3

Dolly aged 3

Some poetry relating to my childhood:

I wrote this when I was quite young:


Once a year

The photographer would come

to our school

To take our yearly shot

It's a good way 

to see how much more you grow


Dolly Sen aged 11

Dolly aged 11

It's a good way 

to see how much more

you know. I hated it.

I tried to bunk school.

Let him take a photo

of an empty chair.

That'd produce

a good likeness 

of my soul.


I just couldn't smile.

"Come on, you 

can do better than that!"

No, I couldn't.

I tried.

"Think happy thoughts!"

Happy thoughts?

What were those?

"You are too young

to worry, come on,


All I was thinking was how

scared I'd be taking

these photos home.


"These cost too much 

fucking money!"

says Dad.

"We're not made of money.

Send these photos back, we 

don't need em. We have to

look at your fucking face

every day, don't we?"

He storms off out,

to drown his sorrows

that I am told I cause him.


With my dad gone, my mum

would rummage though his pockets

until she found the price of the photo.

She gave me the money. I gave her

the photo. She hid it. I guess

with where the rest of my childhood

went too.