Another sunny day where it made me wanted to go out.
I took my camera with me, wearing a black hoodie and sunglasses, Bold printed T shirt.
I walked through the nearby streets. Then I headed to the park, with a community centre. I saw a man pushing an old lady in a wheel chair accompanied by another women.
I noticed few kids, very thrilled and joyful as they can ride in the sun.
Passing them, I reached the Salsa community centre and I was starring at the empty basket ball court. Those kids came back to me.
They asked “What are you doing? “
The shame in me was fighting back not to have a conversation with them. But I managed to say “I am just taking some photos”.
Kids: “There’s nothing there to take photos”?
Me (In a bit of shy): Was about to answer but…
Kid 1: Are you Turkish ?
Me (Seriously?) : “No I a not Turkish, I am Indian”.
Kid3: I can speak Turkish.
Kid2: Are you a Photographer?
Me: Yes I am.
Kid1: Are you a Professional Photographer?
Me (Woow they asked me that. I am gonna change my looks? Lol never. I will stay how I look): Yes, I am kinda getting there. 😛
I asked them: What you guys upto?
Kid1 & 2 : We just chilling the sun. You know how it is.
Me: Oh yes man. Its been a lovely day.
Conversation became a bit silent and they pedaled their cycles. I yelled. “Have a nice evening.”
Thye replied “you too”.
I tried to snap a pic of them leaving, I heard Kid 1 whispering to his mate “He’s taking our Picta.”
But Kid 3 was showing off some wheeling skills and all just cycled.
I took few more snaps around the centre. I went across to a round about and walked to the small park. I saw few kids playing football. Their cycles were lying in the middle of the park. The goal post were made with their hoodies and bags. 🙂
They were so enjoying the sun and kicking the ball. At that moment I had these thoughts hoovering in my head: “ Shall I ask those kids whether I can take some photos of them? But will they see me as a stranger?” I decided just to watch the game silently by standing next to a tree.
All of them were doing a great job by passing the ball to each other. That innocence, spirit and team work was a good visual treatment. It took me to my childhood for a minute.
I noticed one kid was sitting near to the road and crying. One of his mate went to him and I heard the crying kid was yelling at the other boy. He then walked towards me. He might be 6-7yrs old. He caught a rope on the tree and was hanging from the rope. I heard he was calling out another mates name.
I asked him “ U Okay?” Kid: “I am Ok”( in a half liked way.)
He then said to me “can you please stay bit away from the tree” ?
I was a bit shocked and I moved about half a meter. He said “can you move a bit more please?” This time I was getting bit surprised and I asked“ Why” ?
Kid: “My mate is scared to come here”.
I then looked at his mate who was busy in passing the ball.
Kid again shouted his mates name.
I asked him “Why he’s scared” ? He didn’t reply. His mate then came and helped him to push kid 1 to climb up the tree. He was keeping his fake Nunchuck(Martial arts weapon as in Bruceelee movies) made from a tree branch . I looked at him when he was on the tree and asked:
“Do you climb up here everyday? ” He said “Yes”.
He climbed down and went to the game showing off his skills with that wood Nunchuck.
He walked away from me and after 2 minutes approached me and again with a bit annoyed face he asked:
“Can you move a bit far.?
“ Why” ?
“You can’t watch the game by kids”?
“You can watch if you pay. 50p for charity”.
“Charity for what?”
“Race for life”.
“I don’t have any money on me now, but I can bring 50p next time I come.” I replied.
He became very cheerful and said the same to his mate and replied. “Thank you.”
They again curiously asked me:“What you doing here”?
“I am just enjoying the sun and walking by”.
All of the kids looked bit off by then and I saw one girl came on her bike and said something to another kid. Later they all were walking off. I was bit worried.
“Did I make them scared”?
Then I slowly walked off to the next park on the other side thinking lets don’t be a nusiance. I spent about 15 minutes sitting there watching a dog playing in the grass.By then I was bit hungry and was heading back to home.
I heard someone calling “Hey”.
I unplugged my headphone and looked around. I saw that same kid was standing about 100 yards from me and was shouting at me:
“Hey you, my dad want to see you”.
“What ? ” As I thought I might have heard it wrong.
There was 2 other mates were also wth him. All 3 off them ran away from me. I walked back to the football ground.
I saw that kid went to a near by house. Few kids ( 8-10 yrs old) were standing near to the cycles in the ground. I asked them “That kid said his dad want to see me, is everything ok”?
One kid relied: “He thinks you are a Peadophile!!!”.
I was stumbled and my mind got waffled. I paused for a minute as I couldn’t process that immediately. I couldn’t believe that!
I asked them: “Is it because of my camera? I live down the road and I am just enjoying the sun”.
They didn’t gave any reply to that. With a shame of the “word” the kids used I decided to make it right.With a deep desire of wanting to make this clear to that kid.
I saw the same kid standing infront of a house with his mate and an adult.
While I was reaching near to him I asked :“ You Ok buddy”?
He didn’t reply.
The adult ( a guy in his 40’s may be with all tattoos on his hands and neck). I asked him that the kids were saying that his dad wants to see me?
Guy replied “he’s not my kid.”
“ Ah Ok.” I looked at the kid and asked “ You asked me to meet your dad”.
He was in his fear and said “ No I didn’t say that.”
Me: “No you did ask me that. Are you scared of me? ”
He was half nodding his head.
My mind was preparing for the answer. “ You don’t have to be scared with me. I live down the road in Finglesham court. I was just chilling in the sun and wanted to watch your game”.
Another kid said “ Yeah I know wheres fingleshma court is.”
I added:“ I work in Three Mobile store in Maidstone high street, if you need to say hi anytime to me just pop in to the store.I walk through these roads everyday to work. So don’t be scared.”
I wanted to shake his hand but he’s stepped back. Then I asked for a knuckles. He then did a very very gently knuckle.
I asked him “Are you scared of me again”? He shook his head and said no.
I replied:“Thats a good kid”.
“Kid 2 “ Can I get phone from your store. “ I smiled and replied “ no we don’t have free phone there mate.”
Kids: do you repair phones there?
“No we don’t repair”.
With happiness filling up my whole body I said to all “ OK guys , Catch u later”.
Kid: “Will you come to play tomorrow “.
I smiled and with joy bursting out of my head i replied: “ sorry man I don’t play much football, but I like to watch. But thank you.”
I walked in pride, one kido called me and said theres a short cut.
I was in confusion and said where?
“He pointed to me on to my right a few meters ahead. He asked me “ You just moved down here?”
In a bit of shame I replied “ No been over a year, but don’t know much about the shortcuts around.”
I walked past them saying another “Thank you”.
I was filled with joy and energy. I did something different this day, which will help that kid in his entire life. His attitude was right for his knowledge, I was a stranger to him. Specially my dark skin wasn’t helping him either. The world has taught him in a different way. I was a complete stranger for him.
What I liked in him was, even though he was scared he had the courage to have a conversation with me. If it was me, I wouldn’t dare to even talk to anyone in that situation in that age. From today he will not be having that fear to keep that conversation with anyone in his life.I hope.
If I ignored and walked away he will be stuck with the thought of I might be a Peadophile with a camera. Even the adult standing there was smiling at me when I left. All the kids were talking to me and asking about more friendly questions about my shop. They even showed me a shortcut which I never knew which was few meters away from my home. I felt great as I stood up to do what was right and to be there in the community regardless of my colour/ looks/ dress.
I am so grateful to those kids and this day.
Feeling thoughtful (FB status )