In the beginning, I had a happy childhood. I grew up with a twin brother and an older brother in an ordinary house with loving parents in North London. The house belonged to a college and my dad also worked as a senior caretaker there . He absolutely adored his job. Being in the outdoors tidying up and maintaining the college grounds. So seeing students passing by the gates whilst my brothers and I played in the garden was something normal to us – we didn’t think anything different. My dad also used to spend his waking hours in the garden enjoying the summer doing what he loved best -gardening. There was always something he was doing. I used to go outside and nose around what he got up to during the day, and he always used to joke, ‘ I’m baking a cake Kate, Haha!’ He was a very fit man -full of energy. My mum on the other hand, liked being at home and being a housewife, watching and smiling at the window while we played outside.
As a kid, I used to get excited holding my dad’s hand as he used to take us to the college grounds after everyone had all left and gone home. We had access to play everywhere! The sports halls, the gyms and the entire car park which was completely empty to ride around on our bikes until the sun went down. We had a blissfully happy twelve years. It wasn’t until the year 2004 that our lives were about to change, forever.
While we were settling in our first year of secondary school, we came home one day to find our mum sitting down and then explain to us that we had to move out. ‘ Move out?’ I asked, ‘Why?’ It turned out that the college had been bought by a home redevelopment company and that we would have to leave and the council would have to provide us with a new home. At the time, I didn’t quite understand it fully what was happening around me but the idea of having to leave the house was a big shock. It took a while to process and take it all in, watching my mum and dad moving around, conversing with family and friends about what their plans were to do next. I used to stand around and watch them helplessly while they were tidying and packing all our belongings, having to choose what to clear out and what to keep.
A few weeks went by and we moved to a temporary home to stay in for a few months while my parents looked for a permanent place to live. It wasn’t bad because we had some friends from school who lived on the exact same road, and it was nice in the mornings walking to school together. Sometimes we even used to go round each other’s houses and hang out for hours on the patch of green having a laugh and giggle. Just being teenagers, you know.
It was very overwhelming trying to adjust to the sudden change and I slowly began to notice a tense atmosphere building up in the home. My mum was becoming very frustrated and increasingly worried for my dad. He started behaving very oddly around me. He started becoming very irritable, quiet and easily wound up at the slightest of things. I couldn’t understand why? His happy and incredible personality started to transform into a completely different person. It wasn’t my dad at all, he was such a popular and fun person. My twin brother and I struggled to adjust to the sudden changes at home and it was slowly starting to affect us at school.
We moved into a flat six months later and although we lived in a very nice neighborhood in a quiet road, my dad despised it. There was a lot of arguments between mum and dad and it was too distressing to see. He still had his job but it meant that he wouldn’t be doing the same role as a caretaker, but instead he would be in a small office in a different branch. No matter how many times my mum pleaded with him to give it a try, he wouldn’t go back to work and took time off with stress. Sometimes, whenever dad was alone in a room I used to come in and quietly ask, ‘what’s wrong dad?’ He wasn’t able to answer and had a distant expression on his face. It was like he was in another world of his own.
I thought that eventually things would slowly adjust and get better with time and he would be back to his old self again. Little did I know, things were about to get a whole lot worse. My whole world was about to turn upside down.