It’s all cats and dogs here this morning. I can hear the rain splash against the window pane, the tyres spraying puddles, and the wind building up to a crescendo. As I’m refusing to open the curtains, I can’t see any of it.
Instead, I’m organising documents, and have come across some old articles that are not on the blog. I wrote this one, when a brother in law was about to do his army service. Thankfully, he did come home, but on manoeuvres across the border he witnessed two of his friends die right in front of him. He lived to tell the tale, but I’m sure it changed his perspective on life.
This article is around seven years old – The message however, is timeless.
One hazy summer in the 80’s, a baby boy is born in London. Raised by a single mother who works hard to compensate him in finance, with what he lacks in a father. He goes to school in uniform, but on his feet are the latest trainers and his school bag is emblazoned with the latest turtle, transformer or superhero of the day. On his birthday, he has an adventure or a party, lots of presents and the all important theme cake. Father Christmas brings him the latest game or electronic craze, a new football strip, and of course, more trainers. From the age of four this little boy goes abroad on holiday; he stares excitedly out of the plane window, while his hand dips into a big bag of sweets. He rides camels and horses, spins on funfair’s and dines out in restaurants, and at the end of each day, he comes home to his own room, with his own toys, a wardrobe full of clothes, and a feeling of security. He knows he is loved.
One hazy summer in the 80’s, a baby boy is born at home, in a small village in Turkey. Raised by a single mother who already has four children. He goes to school in a hand me down uniform, and any spare shoes that sort of fit. He has no school bag. Birthdays are not remembered, there is no celebration, and he is not even sure how old he is. Father Christmas has no meaning, but there is ‘Seker Bayram,’ and on this day he receives sweets from the adults he encounters. On school breaks, he kicks around the village with the rest of the boys, playing games with sticks, or climbing on old bits of machinery held together with rope. At the end of each day, he comes home to his family, and sleeps in the same room as his brothers on a home made mattress on the floor, no toys, but a feeling of security. He knows he is loved.
Our London boy has now left school and is at college. His clothes are more expensive still, and the cost of his trainers could feed our Turkish boys family for at least a month. He goes to the cinema, pubs & clubs, dates girls and always comes home to his own room, complete with TV, DVD, Games Consul and mini fridge.
Our Turkish boy has now left school and is working long hours in a restaurant. He brings home his wages and gives them to his mum. A sum that wouldn’t buy our London boy a designer T Shirt. His clothes are still handed down, and the only shoes he wears are the worn out pair from his older brother. He has never been to the cinema or set foot inside a pub, and his experience of ‘girls’ romantically, is gleaned from old Turkish movies. Each night, he comes home to the same room that he shares with his brothers, and sleeps on the thin mattress on the floor.
Our London boy is now 18. He has spent the last year or so partying in Turkey, London and Greece. He has been working in bars and has spent his wages on branded clothes and funny t-shirts, added to his collection of tattoos, got a few piercings, and notched up more scores on his bedpost. His bank balance is still subsidized by his over compensating mother, and he is busy planning his return to London where he will ‘knuckle under,’ and concentrate on his career from the comfort of a new flat that his mother is about to fund.
Our Turkish boy is now 18. He has spent the last five months in the army, learning to push his body to the ends of endurance, survive without water and handle heavy artillery. He is busy learning how to survive his next excursion. The one that will take him on his first trip out of the country. The one he doesn’t want his mother to know about.
At last, our Turkish boy has his very own shoes……. We pray they will not be his last.