Saturday, 30 October 2010

Journey to Memory Lane

I haven’t been out in a while. I’m beginning to miss what the streets of London look like. Me, Peace and mum are still in the kitchen. It’s evening time and mum wants to start cooking.

“Mum, I’m going out for a little while”
“Now that I want to start cooking, is when you want to go out. Or is it that you don’t want to help?” she asks jokingly.

“No, it’s not that. It’s just that I haven’t really been out. I just want to go around for a bit. I promise I won't be out late”
The last sentence echoes in my mind. It reminds me of when I was younger; every time I wanted to go out mum would worry that I might stay out too late and I’d have to reassure her. “I promise I won’t be out too late.”

I walk out of the kitchen and quickly hurry upstairs to put my trainers on. As I hurry back down Peace is standing waiting for me with my car keys. i give her funny look and walk past out through the front door.

"We're taking the bus. I wanna see if London transport has changed"
She hurries out catching up with me.

"Bus? why, don't we use your car instead?" she asks.
I shake my head laughing.
"Do you have money for petrol?" I ask her. she remains silent.

As we walk out of the cul-de-sac I begin seeing subtle difference that some of our neighbours have made to their homes. New flowers, new bushes and even new paintwork. Everything seems familiar but with a newness to it.
Me and Peace just catch the bus-stop; we had to quickly jog or we have missed it. For some reason Peace is too proud to run for a bus. We get on the bus; I'm thankful that I have my oyster because the price of a single fare is just ridiculous! Secondly I notice that a voice now speaks saying the number and destination of the bus. An inspector stands next to the driver chatting away.

"Wow, have I been away from London that long? The buses now talk."
Peace is amused at my observation.
"Yeah, but it's no big deal. I doubt people really notice" She responds.
"Well, it'll be good for tourists and those tryin’ to find their way"

As the bus drives through the busy London roads I look around. All the people walking headed to one place from another. I look at the shops which will later become different shops, buildings which will become new apartments. I know change is inevitable there's always that part you that's slightly apprehensive about it.

I remember my secondary school years, when me and my school-mates would parade these streets on a Friday after school and spend the pocket-money we saved up. (It's still surprising I got pocket money from a father as strict as mine.) I remember the games-shop where I used to buy computer-games; now it's a wine bar. A part of me feels like this is not the London I grew up in. As I think about it everything seems so sterile to me. There's nothing around to that has emotional significance and very few things around bring back childhood memories.
I see some teens still in their uniform, the sight of them annoys me; their reckless manner in which they walk and talk; as if youth is something new and exclusively given to them. But I don't hold anything against them; after all I was once their age; and Peace, not too long ago was just like them. 

I press the bell to get off and tap Peace on her shoulder. We get down to the lower deck and just as the bus stops I see two scruffy looking schooling children run to where the exits are. They must be year 7s. You can tell by the size of their school bags, which are almost as big as them and their blazer sleeves which come past the wrist. 
It's obvious what they plan to do. This amuses me as they clearly haven't seen the inspector. The bus stops and the exit-doors open and in a flash they run on, whizzing past me and Peace and up the stairs. Peace steps off laughing; this scene is familiar to her seeing as she did this sometimes. The funny thing is she always had a valid bus-pass, but I guess her and her friends just liked the fun of it.
As the bus drives off again I look at the upper deck. The inspector has caught them.

"Shame" I say with a smile
"That's so like you Mikel, you're like a school prefect" Peace says. Peace has always been a bit of a rebel. At home she was our parent's princess but outside she was brat. It was mainly the fact that she never got caught out, but if I even tried to get into any mischief I got caught.

"Where we going?" Peace asks.
"We?" I reply. "We ain't going anywhere. I'm just going around and you're just following" I say jokingly.
"Whatever" she says.

As we walk along I see my old secondary school. The big black gates old looking building brings back memories. My school is the one thing still around which brings back good memories... and some bad ones too. I turn in the street leading to the school and enter the residential area called

Melleray Lane
. I remember how those who had left yr11 in our school used to call it '
Memory Lane
' on account of all the memories they've had here.

"Why are we coming here?" Peace asks. "Are you going to visit your old school?"
"No, but there's someone I wanna visit; a friend"

As I walk deeper in the residential area Peace and I reach his door.  My closest friend and yet my most distance role-model lives here. I always saw him as the second son my father never had...but always wanted.

I press the bell and a few long seconds later the door opens. A happy voice greets me and Peace.

"Hey!...So you've remember me today"

Monday, 4 October 2010

If Only You Knew...

Evening time. A time when most people realised how they've wasted their day; including me. I just stayed in my room flicking through the pages of the book I'm reading. My thoughts go back to my father and the brief convo we had. It has settled me a bit; I guess it was only fair he explained the why he has been treating me the way he has.  I look up and see that the sun is starting to settle. I hear the sounds of children still playing outside, enjoying the summer evening. The sound of the front door shutting cuts into my thoughts.

"Obi, oya...come and help me with these bags"

I spring to my feet, rush out of my room and down the stairs. I see my mum standing, waiting for me.
"Where's Peace?"  I ask.
Mum gives me a funny look.
"Is it Peace that I asked for or you?" she says pointing. "Peace has gone out; but Obi, you're a man, you are supposed to carry these. Come and take them to the kitchen. After now you'll be the one to eat half of the food here" she laughs.

I begin setting out the items, while mum sits and watches. She bought my favourite pack of yoghurt and king-sized cookies. I break-off the cherry flavoured and strawberry flavoured yoghurts and hide them in the fridge where Peace won’t see them. She can the nasty peach flavour.

“Obiora, ha! So at your age you’re still hiding food from your sister?” she says amused.
 I just smile. I’m done setting out the shopping and decide to eat some of the cookies. My mum pulls out a seat and gestures for me to sit. I obey.

“Mikel…have you and your father spoken?” she asks
“Yes…yes we have” I reply. She uses her thumb to wipe of a crumb on my lip. I wonder why she still does that. I’m not 10 anymore.

“So you know why he expects everything plus more from you. I’m not taking his side, nor am I against him. I often felt he may have gone too far with his ways; but his intentions are good.”

One thing about mum was, although she is an obedient wife, she doesn’t outright agree with all my dad’s decisions. Rather she would try and reach some middle ground; but I guess in the end it usually went in favour of my father. She was more subtle in trying to make me and Peace do things we we’re told.

“If only you knew how far he came, then that would give you a little more understanding” she looks at me like I’m a boy.
She has always did that, despite my age, I’m still her boy in her eyes
“You know back home, your father had to do everything for himself. After his father went missing during the war, his mother struggled; and as soon as your dad was old enough he left home to find work. He was the one supporting his mother and siblings. The work he did was only just enough to feed them. Nobody and I mean NOBODY gave him anything.” She clicks her fingers for emphasis.

“If only you knew. Maybe…just maybe all the experiences he went through made him to be the way his is today. He used to tell me stories of all the youngsters back home who have so much potential but no opportunity and no one to guide them. and the young ones here who have both potential AND opportunity! But refuse to utilise it.” She shakes her heads disappointedly  

"Obi, i know you may not want to go in the direction your father wants; but whatever YOU decide to do make sure you choose wisely; because second chances don't come easy; And if you should end up not knowing what to do with your life...your father" I cut in.

"...Would only say 'I told you so..' ".

She just looks at me.
"No....but he would be so disappointed in himself. Remember why he is doing what he's doing to you."

We sit silently for a while and I begin thinking again. I don't want to feel guilty of anything, nor do I wanna seem ungrateful. My father has worked very hard no doubt, but I'm confused as to how I should feel. My dad has worked hard to provide the very best for his wife and kids and only wants the best for us; but at the same time he has placed bitter feelings in me towards him. I let the thoughts go.
It's just as he said, if I hate him today...I'll love him tomorrow. I guess I can forgive more now that I understand some of what he's been through. Even though I know there's more to be told.

"If only I knew" I say quietly to myself.

The sound of Peace coming in breaks the silence. She walks into the kitchen and looks at us both.

"What’s going on?" she asks suspiciously.
Mum just looks at her and says plainly "If only you knew..."