Gentle Warrior

C. H.

creative partner Julia Pascal

 reader Inez Thorn

Primary school was good. It was only at secondary school that the issues started. I was good at athletics and art. I had friends. But then cousins told me, ‘Your friends, are they the right ones? Bit nerdy aren’t they?’

At school, one teacher said I would be a good leader but then I changed my friends because of what my cousins said. Then things started to go wrong.

During lockdown I saw that teacher who said I would have made a good leader.

I told her, ‘That school report, you wrote about me, I have never forgotten it.’ She smiled.

In secondary school, why were my As turning to Ds? DDD.
When I had my daughter I learned that I am dyslexic.  DDD

Grandpa came on the Windrush. My grandma followed after. Jamaica.
At school I wore my own clothes. The others laughed. Not fashionable
Mum was working and not earning much.

Dad?
I tell mum, ‘I’m ready now to find my dad.’
I knock on the door of his mother. ‘Hello! I’m Junior’s daughter.’
My new grandmother looks at me and cries.
Dad was in London and we arrange to meet up.
As soon as he sees me, he cries.
Then he says, ‘We need to have a DNA test.’ But my aunt or someone says, ‘You don’t need to do that. Your mum was sixteen. He was her first.’
I decide no DNA test. I kind of regret that now.
Hello, Dad. Goodbye Dad. For now.

It was bad between my daughter’s father and me. It was when I accepted  Jesus in my heart that my life changed. I felt this overwhelming love.

I got back home after a night service and my daughter’s father, he had broken down the door. Why? He says, ‘I thought you were here with someone else.’

Women’s Refuge. Domestic Abuse. I change churches.

I went on a Mission trip to Burundi. The people, when they saw us, started singing. They sat us down on chairs and moved their hands around our feet as if they were washing them. They could not believe that we had come all that way just to be with them.

In the Burundi prison, the authorities wouldn’t let us see inside the cells. But I did. In one room, lots of beds, women, children, filthy, awful. How could that be allowed? I wanted a way to get them out.

Back home I called Amnesty, The Koestler Foundation. They said, ‘We know.’

That trip gave me strength and, when I came back, I told my daughter’s father, ‘It’s over.’

My son’s father was from Uganda. I was married. I was divorced.

That teacher’s voice, so long ago, still in my head. I went back to my art. I graduated from the University of Arts in Wimbledon. Another teacher tells me, ‘You’re dyslexic but I’ll help you with your dissertation. You have great potential.’ No more Ds. One teacher she taught me about creativity and spontaneity. She said I have a good performance presence.

A leader? Now I am an artist. But an artist is a leader too, isn’t she.

C.H.

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