- Vol. 06
- Chapter 11
My mother’s late shift at the hospital meant I could stay up late. At 9PM I turned all the lights off in the flat and set up my den in the front room. Cushions, blankets and my fairy lights crafted the hideout fit for any explorer.
Life on estate wasn’t always the greatest, but the people who lived here made this watchtower a hub for people all over the world. Ground floor, we have Mr and Mrs Westcarr, who were from Jamaica. Second floor, Auntie Jundo and Uncle Hansamu from Japan. Eighth floor, Nuru, the boy who I walked to school with. He moved here a couple of weeks ago from Kenya.
At least two nights a week my mother would be working late. I would set up my den after she left and stare from my front room window at London City. The outside world seemed so bright and distant from me yet, it was contained amongst the people in my estate. The stories of people and their lives would start to unfold after 9PM. How ironic is it that my mum said that was the time for bed too? The opposite tower block always televised the many dramas of life; it taught me a lot.
On the seventh floor, Anika was hiding her secrets from Eli as she rushed into the bathroom when he came home. She hid the needles she was playing with whilst he was at work. I learnt the fear of asking someone for help to avoid hurting them. The deeper the secret gets, the bigger the depth of hurt. I learnt Jesús on the fourth floor, spent his life searching for his family and his mother. As an orphan, he had so many questions. The questions we don’t know the answers to are sometimes better for us. Mauricio on the tenth floor, hadn’t unpacked since he arrived in the estate. I learnt he was worried about immigration so much that he stayed ready to just move, rather than to settle and call this place a home.
On the ninth floor, Kapo was training hard for his fight. He spent everything he earned to help win this fight and be reunited with his wife. I learnt on the ground floor that, although Mrs Westcarr had passed, Mr Westcarr was left with so many great memories and so much love that he could go on and remember his beloved through the everyday things he would do. On the second floor, I learnt Adu was able to find pride and identity in learning the history of his home country, Mauritius.
Just past 12AM; my mother would be home soon. I packed away my den leaving no trace it was ever there and pulled down my blinds. I could finally dream of life beyond stories of the estate.