Anyone who knows me well, knows I have never been particularly close to my father. Despite that, I have told many friends how hard both my parents have worked to come to the UK in the 60s in order to give my sister and I, a better life and opportunities that they never had. I barely have a brief conversation with my dad, but yesterday while my mother was out, he sat me down. At the age of 31, he started to tell me his life story. I knew bits and bobs but here he was telling me many things I didn’t have a clue about. As he recounted his younger years, tears fell down my cheeks as I heard tales of much hardship as he flitted from job to job, dwelling to dwelling, being shafted out of precious money along the way, all in order to give me a good life in the future. And so it was he finally brought property in Tottenham not long after my sister was born where we was robbed several times and my mum mugged a few times. My mum’s uncle eventually persuaded him to move to Wallington which was well out of my dad’s financial reach. Nonetheless, my mums uncle told him look you pay the mortgage, I will sort out everything else. He died the following year and the help went with him. Regardless, for many years my dad soldiered through and we carried on living here and I was able to go on to one of the many grammar schools in the area and receive a good education. He told me he never had these opportunities as he came to the UK before realising any of them. As I opened up and told him that I always tell my friends that if he did finish his education, he could have become anything he wanted, he cried and stroked my head as you would to a young toddler.
The thing is, this story and similar stories are repeated countlessly throughout my generation of ethnic minorities living in the UK. Which is why I feel it all the more upsetting, that young girls and boys are falling into this trap of being radicalized\groomed, whatever you want to call it. Even if you feel a little lost sometimes, your parents made the ultimate sacrifices and this is how you are repaying them. It upsets me to see families being tarred with the same brush when their kids go off to Syria or blow themselves up, when I am pretty confident that they probably had no clue whatsoever.
Another thing that came to my attention today, is the dangerous world out there. A friend living in Islington, celebrates her 27th birthday today. She has a little girl of 3. She expresses her sadness as she recalls how earlier this week, yet another innocent teenager was slain in Islington in a knife attack at the age of 15 and it made her wonder what kind of environment awaited her kid as she grew up. Thing is I used to be very snobby, hell I am still am in some respects. I often used to wonder what my life would have been like if we never moved and I grew up in Tottenham. The thing is, you could be living in Tottenham, you could be living in Wallington. You could bring your children up the best you can, you can teach them to be streetwise but how do you account for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, anywhere in the country? Some of us know first hand, including myself, how quickly life can be cut short in the most tragic of circumstances. All the more reason to cherish your family. You have your ups and downs, but please sort them because whoever leaves this mortal realm first, any unfinished heartache will eat away at the other for the rest of their days.
Make your parents feel proud that you are their child, make your children feel proud that you are their parent.