For a good while I thought the people near us called us ‘them ‘uns’ just because they didn’t know our real name. It happened on the bus, and at the school gates mainly – they’d look at me and my mum, and then turn to each other to say it. It was only as I realised that they never called over to us saying ‘hello, them ‘uns!, and always seemed to mutter it, that I learned it was a bad thing. Something that shouldn’t be said out loud really.
Mum must have got this early on, even though her English was bad. But then, you don’t need to know the language to understand bad tones, nasty looks. She has never really gone right in to the playground to meet me, because she’s afraid of having to talk in English. Also because she doesn’t feel welcome. There is no kindness there. So, she stands right at the entrance, and waits for me. People look over at her only sometimes. Mostly, they just look away and walk right past. I know she hates leaving me off, and picking me up, because she has to make herself invisible, and stand strong against the whispers, eye-rolling and alienating body language of the other mums.
I try at school, and it is easier than before, but somehow, not quite right. Some of the games make it simple to join in, but other times, I’m left out. No amount of games of tag can hide the fact that I’m different. I just wish that someone would see that different can be interesting, and interesting can be good. Can be worth considering. When we go back to my parents’ homeland, everything is familiar, and they are relaxed. But, as dad says, there is no life there.
I wish that people would let us have a life here. The thing is, if they don’t, they’ll always be ‘them ‘uns’ to us too. What a faceless, nameless world that would be.