Many days mummy would leave me and go away, I had no keys and so I wandered the streets. I was living a life not fit for an animal. I didn’t complain, although I didn’t know any better. My life didn’t feel right. I was entrusted into a life of abuse from I came to England.
I grew up knowing life for a girl child was being abused, allowing men to use your body for pleasure or to go toilet inside..
I grew up, depending on what I learnt in story books, although I started off as an intelligent child at age seven. The constant abuse had turned me into a vegetative state, where learning was doing. I copied information from books, and my favorite pastime was always reading.
I never knew what I was capable of, or my worth as I had never been given praises. I did not grow in a life where, one had a mum or dad sisters or brother, that would teach you about life. There were no hugs, no kisses, no I LOVE you. As a result I rejected the closeness, the hugs even from my children. Life at home was empty, life in the street was empty, life with my babies were empty. I just existed. Although I had an aunt and uncle in this country, and my cousins, (previous posts), once I left home. There was no contact.
I spent most of my time on the street , running from pillar to post, trying to survive. I also spent some time with children I knew at school, I wouldn’t call them friends but, they kept me warm underneath their beds. Scared that I would be found and sent home. I heard when they were called for dinner before bed and sounds of laughter from downstairs as well as the clanging of the cutlery on the dishes as they ate their meal. This time mum and dad were oblivious to the child under the bed.
I recall, I was hiding with a large family on Mortimer rd, in Kensal rise. (London Town) During the nights I would also sleep under their beds, I recall the stench from urine, and the squalor, but I was so hungry to belong. I remember thinking that I wanted to have the chance to lie in my own sisters urine, because at least I would have had a sister. Sadly no one came looking for me, as there was no one to come. In fact my life was non existent.
Another time, I was laying under the bed, I saw a book, it was the best book I ever saw. It was a large chunky book like an encyclopaedia. It had bedtime stories and poems, and crosswords and proverbs. “Can I keep this” I asked. Yes was the reply. My hunger for books allowed me to gain relevent knowledge about the world around me.
life on the streets didn’t matter so much after I had my book, and I read it from cover to cover, and back again, I learnt about pirates, the gingerbread man, Cinderella and snow white and many other fairy tales. Cinderella was my favourite as I could identify with the story. Thank you father for giving me the gift of reading.
The chapters have remained in my mind till today. One was a poem.
Time heals all wound they say
and hearts will heal in time
ten months have elapsed
and I still wished you were mine.
As the years went by the above words were all I remember, but nevertheless those words mattered, I wanted my father.
The next page were proverbs.,..
you can never know another’s problems, until the problem is in your own hand.
This was so fitting to my situation, these words in particular followed me to present day, and I would pass this on to my children, although they still don’t know the story behind.
One day I went to my best friends house. She lived with her mother and father, sister and brother. I was once again caught up in a family situation. It seemed like everyone around me had a family.
In the morning their mum would call them one by one to do their hair, which was plaited in three. I was always in the shadow looking on. Wishing. My mummy would plait my hair. I stayed with my Friend for couple of days, of course in my home under the bed, I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble and I certainly didn’t want them to send me home.
This was around Christmas, a time for togetherness, I recall their mum had cooked ham in the kitchen, it was neatly placed on top of the fridge, the smell lingered in the air. She had also cooked rice and peas carribean style.
The smell of the coconut in the rice and peas lingered in the air. I still use this in my cooking today. So I was learning about life all the time. I recall being so hungry I felt faint, but it was like my Friend knew. “Do you want some ham”. She said. That was the nicest thing I had eaten, I recall it was salty and it was food. Mummy never gave me this type of food.
I carried on walking until my feet took me back home. By now I was defeated but I was dirty and hungry and I had nowhere else to go.
After walking the street for hours I remember I arrived home around 10pm. I looked through the letter box and imagined what it would be like to be in my own bed. I heard my mummy humming a song, I cannot recall what, but something told me you cannot go back there.
I didn’t want to be beaten, so I went downstairs, I looked on all floors up to the eight floor, this was high rise block of 16 floors, when I arrived on the second floor it was the cleanest. I climbed inside the rubbish shoot and laid down on the floor. There were some newspapers so I covered myself. Tiredness took over and I fell asleep quickly.
I was woken up by a stick poking me in my back. Then I saw her, a very kind looking older lady. I was so scared. I got up and sat in the corner. “Oh, it’s a child” she said. “What are you doing in here”. “Did you sleep here?” “You frightened me, ” I came to throw away rubbish and something moved” she was very distressed by what she saw. R.I.P.. I guess she has passed now. I was twelve years old.
“Yes” was my reply
“wheres your mother”
I had to think quickly, “I went to my aunts house, and mummy thought I was coming back tomorrow. So when I got here she wasn’t here”. “Phew” , she believed me. I recall she took me inside, I had a wash, and she gave me fried eggs and baked beans and toast. We sat around the table together, I was ever so grateful. She told me her son was in the army, and she told me if I ever got into trouble again, I must never sleep outside, but I should knock her door. I gave her a hug and I left. At this point this is all I can recall of the conversation.
That day, tired of living on the streets, I went home, I took off my clothes and sat on the bed with a flannel in my hand. I knew I would be beaten. This was my mummy only way of communication. Mummy came into my room, I was scared. I looked at her feet, I did not look up at her.
I assume Mummy knew I was prepared for the beating. I learnt a new word bravery. Mummy left the room. I never understood why, I hoped she felt bad seeing me defenseless sitting on the bed.
I guess I will never know…