The boy in the green jumper

union jack

I held his little hand in mine as we walked home. I was aware of the whispers made by nosy old birds at the Post Office and the exchanged looks when they discovered that we were related. Holding hands. It’s a complex thing if you think about it. Holding his hand made a statement; a bold one at that. It bound us together and told people: “Yes, I know this child. He is my boy.”
I smiled fondly at him as he excitedly chattered about his day at school, his friends and what he had learnt in his little light voice.
“I made a new friend today!” he exclaimed breathlessly.
“Really?” I replied with a big smile. “What was their name?”
“Henry,” he continued. “You saw him at the school gate with his mum. The boy in the green jumper.”
I cast my mind back to the little boy in the green jumper manically waving at us as we walked up the road. Why couldn’t we address people like that anymore? The girl in the red coat, the man with a grey hat or the simple image of a boy in a green jumper?  That’s how it was back in the days before the slogans of “Keep Britain White” were sprawled all over the walls. People call them “the good ol’ days” but how was it good when all they did was terrorise a bunch of people because they were different?
I was one of those people, until the day this little larry was born and I held him in my arms. A helpless bundle wrapped in blankets protecting him from the cruel looks and cutting whispers from strangers who gobbed at his pram when we walked past. Helpless, meek bundle but didn’t the Lord begin his human life in the same way? My boy was more than a bundle of blankets or a name on the register. A new generation. A new chapter in the story. A fresh start to redeem us and bring us forward. A shrub on an ever changing landscape.
Things have certainly changed from my day. He wouldn’t be beaten up for having a “funny accent” or be confronted by hooded men with firebombs ready to throw at you because “you weren’t from round here.” He’d have it easier than we did. It was worth coming over every time I looked at my little boy, heard his laugh, saw him smile and held him. My little boy and millions like him were the change we needed, craved and looked to.
I jerked from my thoughts to see him staring up at me. He smiled, “Were you listening to me?”
“No,” I said. “What did you say?”
“It’s ok I’ll tell you at home,” he answered as we continued walking.
I felt a wave of happiness wash over me as he started to sing an old song  from my childhood that I’d taught him. I laughed and joined in with him. My thick, heavy accent forming the words with ease mixed with his light British-Guyanese voice tracing the lyrics curiously complemented each other. My little boy and I singing and pulling faces at each other as I opened the front door and kissed my wife on the cheek.
Regardless of the motherland, wherever you are based becomes home. And home is where the heart is.


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