As I did my memory map a zoetrope of souvenirs from the past flickered by. Animated contradictions. On the one hand, I felt pretty normal. I was never made to feel different. I played netball, hockey and tennis. I spoke English all the time – even to my parents. And yet, I was made to feel different. Aged nine, my teacher singled me out for not celebrating Christmas. A girl once told me I didn’t need to join the Brownies because I was already brown. I was Ebony to my best friend’s Ivory, and just like McCartney and Wonder, we played duets on the piano. But as I look back, freedom breezes through my memories. Freedom to walk to the village newsagents to buy Double Dips; freedom to go off on our bikes for hours. We were adventurers, battling witches and wizards, goblins and ghouls. We were invincible, untouchable. Masters of our universe.
I knew that I would focus my memory map on the area where I grew up. Until the age of 17 it was the centre of my universe, and from there, all these little memories trickled back. The exercise was more poignant because over a year ago, my father passed away and the event triggered a journey down memory lane. As such, my childhood recollections have taken on a greater clarity and now more than ever, it’s important that I jot them down. In that regard, this project was quite timely. It forced me to record what I remembered – bite-sized and manageable – and really quite fun.