Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Bedtime stories part 3

The Sheffield street lights streaked into the windscreen. Soft yellow lights revealing glimpses of factories that once bellowed smoke and fire. The steel industry has long gone but the scars still remain.

Gillian continued to look out the passenger window, “you know she could stay in the spare room. It must be lonely for her living in that large family home.”

“I don’t think that’ll be wise. She’d take charge and our lives as we know it will cease to exist.” Why can’t the Northern General be in the middle of the city?

“Don’t be silly. Your mum’s wellbeing is important to me and I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of a woman in her state living on her own.”

Too tired to disagree, Raheem listened. Gillian’s desire to have his mum stay with them made sense. It’s what family do for each other. His teeth began to grate.

Shortly after arriving home, he received a text form Barry: You missed the game of a lifetime – Liverpool on penalties. Upset, Raheem wandered if anything good would come from the change? The next day, he made space in the pantry for the spices, got rid of the beers in the fridge, bought a 5kg bag of rice and stocked up on ghee. He felt this gesture would make his mum feel at ease even though he had long grown out of his Hindu culture.

Summer faded away but the heated relationship he shared with his Mum did not. He felt suffocated and isolated from his world. His Mum always had something to say. He couldn’t watch a film without hearing about chest pains every ten minutes. He couldn’t watch a football match without being reminded how his talents were wasted. You could be saving lives instead of selling medical equipment!

“Yes Mrs Khan, I’ll make sure Raheem doesn’t drink tonight and we’ll be home by midnight.”

He couldn’t even have Barry over without feeling like he was a teenager again. Raheem’s sanctum was lost.

His mum started sharing with Gillian the secrets for a good curry. “Don’t overpower the dish with too many spices, it’s all about balance between the spice and the oil.”

Gillian, in return, introduced the joys to Rambling and the Peaks, “just remember, good boots mean a good walk.”

They laughed over childhood stories of Raheem, like the time he refused to wear his Dhoti to school for Cultural Awareness day. She also reminded Gillian of the days he swapped his samosas and onion bhaji’s for a can of coke and a ham sandwich.

“He did that for a whole month you know – and I thought he liked my samosas and bhajis. Everything Raheem did, he did with the passion to blend in and hide away aspects of his roots. I just didn’t want him to forget where his mother came from.”

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