It’s a long way from here to there but, sometimes, I think it’s not far enough.
In Reception Class, Miss Stannard said I was a really good reader. That’s because Mum taught me to read before I started school. She says I’m going to university. She says I could be a lawyer. When I’m older.
In Class Two, Miss Fowler said I was really good at sums. That pleased Mum. She says I could be a lawyer or an engineer. When I’m older.
In Class Three, I heard Mr Roberts tell the Head Teacher, ‘Fatima is my little Displaced Person.’ I Googled that when I got home. A Displaced Person is someone who isn’t where they should be.
‘Where should I be, Mr Roberts?’ I want to ask him but he doesn’t know I was listening when he said that so I pretend that I didn’t hear. I think about it a lot, though. Every day. And every night after Mum has turned my bedside light out and gone to talk to Dad about selling our house. She wants to move near a better school. She says I’m too smart for an ordinary primary school. She says I’ve got to get good A-Level grades so I can go to Oxford or Cambridge. When I’m older.
In the summer holidays, when Mum was cross with me for getting all my sums wrong in the test she set, she said I had to stop messing around. She said I’d never be anything worthwhile if I didn’t concentrate. Then Dad said, ‘maybe what Fatima really needs is to go out and play. Maybe you should just let her be a little girl.’
Now, I’m allowed to go to the play park. The roundabout is there. It’s got Tigger and Winnie-the-Pooh on it. And a weird pointy-faced green thing in a big hat. I like the roundabout – and I don’t like it. I don’t know what to do on it so I sit on the edge and think about what Mr Roberts said. I think about what my Dad said. I don’t know how to play. Instead I worry about when I’m older. It seems a long way away but it isn’t really. Mum says I need to work hard now and Dad says I need a childhood but I’m not a kid. And I’m not older. I am a Displaced Person.
One day I’m going to ask Dad to come to the park with me. He can help me play on the roundabout. He can spin Winnie and Tigger and I’ll ride on Pointy-Faceand laugh until I forget about when I’m older.