I always used to argue that I wasn’t ‘Lucky’ to travel to my friends back home, they could pull all the double shifts that I did if they wanted to. But then I realised the true privilege I had, and it was certainly in no comparison to those I knew in London. Today, no photos. Just words and memories…
My name is ‘Lucky’
She wrote slowly and elegantly in the dried red dirt clutching at the remains of the charcoaled stick. A message not meant for me, perhaps, only for herself. So deep in thought I barely wanted to breathe in case I distracted her.
Cutting the silence and forcing a reactionary jump from my body she replied to my previous question.
‘I don’t know what London looks like’
I whimpered a little. Unsure how to respond or perhaps, more importantly, how to react. Undisturbed, Sabai returned to what I had established was little more than pushing the red thick dirt around. Maybe she was silently signalling me to leave.
Sat on that step, lingering now awkwardly whilst scanning at Sabai’s ‘artwork’ I knew just how lucky I was.
Luck can cross boundaries, countries and walls and that was where it would stay. My comparisons would no longer be with the wealthy, or, poorer than me at home but with young girls, who didn’t know the world and liked playing with dirt.
A raucous in the background broke my trail of thought, children started dancing around nearby, screams and laughter suddenly making the day feel warmer than the already boiling rays beating down on my skin. I looked at my small companion, dedicatedly creating, turning and re-assessing her work and asked my second question of the day.
‘Shall we draw a picture?’
The darkness of her eyes seemed to give a little as she looked back and nodded, squinting against the sun behind me. No question of what or why. We began to play artists.
I explained high rises as she gawped at the number of floors this building had. The buses she was used to seeing and sometimes being allowed to travel on had no upstairs she told me. Clocks that stood high against Rivers which took people to work.
‘Like my dadda’ she said? Who commutes along the waterways.
I nodded, we worked hard. Myself armed now with my own black remains of a fire which had burnt out long ago. I look up to see a crowd gathering around us. More little faces wanting to know where and what to draw, eager to hear of the phone boxes and monuments of this magical land.
With a burst of laughter, I looked back, surrounded by my new teammates and turned to my original friend.
‘That is what London looks like’
It may have been more red, off focus and certainly not to scale but we had found our common way of sharing the images in my mind.
‘It looks so big’ she said, clapping with appreciation at her work. I felt good, I realised I had defused the situation into something I felt more comfortable with.
It wasn’t until she turned away I heard her murmur to a friend tugging at her now near black dress, ‘I need luck to take me there’.
I wished my name could be ‘Lucky’. I wished I could take them all there.