The ink is black, the page is white, together we learn to read & write
I’ve sat for a moment with my hands covering my eyes. Finger tips pressing down on my lids, disbelief of a situation that just unfolded before them. I’m tying to work out in my head how to put it all into words. I have never felt so compelled to write and now all I want to do is cry.
Blessed to live a stone throw away from the beach in a bungalow that shares a communal garden with six others. Some are used as holiday homes where friends and families will often stay for long weekends and holidays.
At the moment two families are staying for a week. They both arrived on the same day. To my left are a family of three. The parents are a nice young couple who have grown up together. Her grandfather own’s the bungalow where they are staying with their adorable little boy Tommy*, who has just turned two. They live in Camden, London, where I have frequented throughout my life and a place I hold dear to my heart. The family to my right are an Asian family, right now I can hear the laughter and shouts of several cousins, I havent met them all yet. Just three of the boys who are funny and cute. Two brothers close in age and their younger cousin who they find a pest but they are made to play with him. I love watching them have to include him, it’s better than watching the television, my heart goes out to the small boy who is no older than 4. The other day the two fathers were out back trying to start a petrol lawn mower. They were pulling and pulling before I noticed they wasn’t holding the bar up, so ran over to let them know. The kid’s faces were a delight as the bit of machinery roared into action, I felt elated at their joy and I’ve seen a petrol mower work a zillion times.
I have met all of the family who are staying on the left, though I have only seen the mother once. Tommy’s father is often out on the communal green, sometimes he is on his own having a cigarette outside, as I do. We have little chats and he is the same age as my son, he has a very nice way about him and is so calm with his little boy who is enchanted by my feline, though she has no interest in him as he runs around calling out ‘Cat Cat’…
Until this evening I had not seen any of the two families on the green at the same time . Tommy and his father were kicking a colourful football around that had sat in the bushes for the past few weeks. I’d seen the older boys playing with the ball earlier in the week. Seeing Tommy and his dad outside , I took out an unopened bottle of juice that I had bought for my nephews when they visited. He thanked me for it and so did the well-mannered two-year old Tommy. We stood there generally chatting and laughing at the little fellas cat antics.
Tommy had lost interest in the football so it sat on the grass. The two brothers from the right hand side then came out to play with their cousin in tow. They picked up the ball and began kicking it between football posts that are set up on the communal green. Tommy’s dad went over and took the ball away from them. I looked at him, thinking it was odd behaviour but didn’t put two and two together at this point. He then stood with the ball between his legs whilst he spoke to me. I was finding it very difficult to focus on the conversation because concern was growing inside. I could hear the two brothers deciding which of them would ask for the ball and I was aware that Tommy’s dad could also hear them. He then started to try to tempt Tommy with ball, the innocent two-year old ran over and kicked the ball, which then rolled towards the three cousins. Excited Tommy ran towards the smiling boys, who had been anticipating this moment with the ball when suddenly a loud voice called out
‘No Tommy, come here’
Tommy looked at his father in confusion as he walked over to him and took his arm, and picked up the bright, colourful ball. The father then led his son away from the other children.
The boys faces was so sad to see. They were astounded as was I. They could not make sense of the situation. They were disappointed about the ball and could not reason the adults behaviour.
The reality dawned upon me, I had just witnessed racism in its purest form.
This man did not see the children to be like his own child. He was just seeing the colour of their skin and letting religion and culture get in the way. Four boys who wanted to play together in harmony, had the moment cruely snatached from them.
It took me back an age when my son was around the same age as Tommy. We were in a play area and there were two little boys playing together. One was black and the other white. The two little boys openly accepted my son into their game. My son looked at the two boys and asked if they were brothers. The two older boys looked at each other as if to say ‘Is this kid for real?’ and I had one of those rush of love moments.
It has been a couple of hours since I began this blog and all has gone quite. In my heart I hope that the three little boys did not realise why the man would not let his son play with them, I hope they haven’t gone to bed considering the evening events. And thankfully Tommy is too young to understand or even consider remembering. I on the other hand will remember it for the rest of my life.
I worry about the hate our next generations could carry into their futures and what a sad impact it will have on the world in hand. Talking to the three cousins I learnt that they too live in London, in an area not far from Tommy and his family.
*name changed as protection of identity.