This morning, I felt deeply thankful. In this article, I am going to open a window into my life so you can see why I am grateful and what informs my gratitude. Secondly, I am going to wish all mothers a Happy Mothers’ Day. If you live in the UK, don’t panic, you have not missed it, Mothers’ Day has come and gone in the UK. Sadly, I cannot remember when it happened!
I am first and foremost grateful that in one lifetime, things have changed dramatically for me. But, a few years back, it was a struggle. This morning, I reflected on two times in my life when things were really difficult. Obviously, these are not the only times; I have experienced hardship. Hardship of any sort is not a unique experience. We all go through it. Suffering makes us human. In a way, suffering is good for us. It was good that my life was difficult when it was. Remembering these two moments in my life simply make me thankful.
The first memory was a time when I worked several jobs, but because I was in so much debt-the money left my account as soon as it came – I couldn’t afford a lot of things.
It was winter 2005; I remember I could not buy a pair of socks. Food was not hard to come by, as we lived on potatoes and eggs or less than five pounds a week. Even though I drove each day to work, my feet were often frozen because I did not have a pair of socks. It may well have been a case of priorities, but I remember that time of my life as dark, depressed and cold.
Fast forward to November 2010, I had my baby in April of the same year, but I was homeless. Homeless? I have never slept in a shelter or on a bus or outside, so I must qualify this homeless. I just didn’t have my own place, and it lasted about a month I think. It was a bad time; perhaps it was not that bad. But I remember this time of my life as dark. I have never really spoken about this time of my life before. But, a series of bad decisions found me living as the only occupant in a house, which was waiting to be sold. The house was nicely painted, with driveway parking in an ‘okayish’ part of town, but after only the first night, the heater stopped working.
Lets backtrack. At the time I had my daughter, I lived in a nice brand new house, which I shared with a housemate. The landlord increased the rent, and my housemate was moving in with her boyfriend/family I couldn’t remember which. Her job in town did not work out, she was leaving town. I couldn’t afford the rent on my own, so a month after my daughter’s birth, we moved. Mum was with us, so that was okay. We moved from brand new to relatively cozy: a small house near Bury Park was good enough. After six months, the landlord increased the rent and knowing it would be a struggle, I decided to downsize to a one bedroom flat or a bedsit.
The one bedroom was large enough. It was a room which was large enough to contain a bed, a sofa and small kitchen. It was newly painted and the fresh coat of paint lingered. The only other door led to a shower, sink and toilet. With the deposit and first month rent paid, and I begun to unpack. Several hours later, I tried to put the heater on. It didn’t work. The landlord promised me that it was working. I should have checked, but I am not sure I remembered. It turned out that there was no hot water, neither was there heating. As fate would have it, a previous tenant came to pick up his letters and he mentioned that he moved out of the flat because the landlord refused to fix the heater. I had a baby……… After threatening to call the police, the landlord returned my deposit, and I became homeless. I did not spend the night there. Man and van at hand, all my things, my moved again to storage. A lot of things were within the boot of my car.
I called my friend in North London who kindly accommodated me. I would spend the night with her and then in the morning, go to work from her house and my daughter would go to nursery.
After a couple of days, a friend of a friend found someone who owned an unoccupied house that was waiting to be sold. I moved in. It was the middle of the winter. I did not sleep. My baby slept well that night, but she threw up her food in the morning when I fed her. A colleague at work told me she threw up because she was cold. Thankfully, the second night, I brought home a plastic heater, it was bearable enough. My daughter was wrapped in clothes, but she threw up again. I was miserable. I can look back at that point in my life especially when the child’s father came around and sniggered at us. I am grateful I am not that vulnerable any more. I will never be that vulnerable. That was six years ago, my life is so different now. I am thankful I can look back and see where I was and where I am now. What are you grateful for?
A very special Mothers’ Day to our mothers in Nigeria, Canada and anywhere else in the world celebrating Mothers’ Day today. We love you: our mothers; sisters and we celebrate and honor you today. We remember what you mean to us, we are grateful for the sacrifices you make, thank you, Mothers, we love you.
Sadiq Khan and the rest of us
One of the most lingering thoughts about the new London Mayor, Sadiq Khan is that because of what he has achieved, ethnic minorities like me and millions like me can aspire and become anything they want to be. This was true eight years ago in America when Barack Hussain Obama became the first black President of the United States of America. We have black MPs, doctors, barristers, lawyers, teachers, civil servants, one day, a black or Asian Prime Minister. Congratulations!!!