#119 Life in the Hood

by Shereen Hussain

My neighbor and best friend, Andrea, was absent from school that day so I would have to make the two mile trek home on my own. I had learned enough about Religion from my mother to know that God would protect me. Besides, I was still excited about the peach-colored cape Mum had got me from the church rummage sale.

Andrea had started calling me Little Orange Riding Hood which would make me giggle. All week long we had been strolling to an imaginary grandmother’s house with a basket of goodies, dodging wolf encounters. I was actually in East London walking past the corner butcher’s shop. (My real grandmother lived in sun-soaked Madras and was probably sipping chai on a sleepy veranda with a host of grandchildren around her.)

I approached the pedestrian crossing and a hefty boy with long hair appeared out of nowhere. He pronounced one tiny word.

Paki.

I felt something on my left shoulder. Bird droppings? Not quite. A pool of spit, about two inches wide, oozed there amoeba-like on the peach-tinged polyester.

I could not cry yet. I had to get home. Streets later, I burst into our first floor flat.

“But I’m not a Paki, “ I wept, sponging the saliva off with Lady Macbeth strokes. “I’m from India.”

I recall my mother nodding and caressing my hair as though it mattered from which side of the sub-continent’s newly partitioned region we hailed.

There was a big bad wolf out there after all.

1 comment:

nmr said...

I like the "Streets later" and Lady MacBeth ref!
Well done you!