It was true,Insbury wasn't a seductive or glamarous place. Many of us found is was distasteful and grey,but none of us had enough money to get out and see the world,so we had to stay put. That was always Neema's dream-to travel.
When we were little,my mum bought me a cheap scrapbook from the shop over the road that sold weird but pretty wonderful things. They had handmade dream catchers with real feathers dangling from each one,pens made from oak,hand carved furniture,detailed figurines of goblins and dragons,so many different colored crystals (one ,it seemed, for every mood and occasion) and stuffed animals. It was such an unusual shop to place in the centre of such a washed out town, but that's what we seemed to love about it.
This old scrapbook soon became our "things to do before we're 20" book. It was somewhat ridiculous. We wouldn't of been able to do even half of what we'd planned, but, even so,we stuck cut out pictures of places we liked in magazines along with our favorite must go to place,Iceland. It's blue lagoon and black beach really appealed to us. It didn't seem like it really existed,that was the main reason.
We were quite out of touch with the real world back them.We'd wrap ourselves up in a fatalistic world and enjoyed only existing there. I would happily go back and relive that again. It was like being numb to a pain you'd never thought you'd be rid of. It was a safe haven we could escape to,away from day to day life. Now that was painful.
Neema wasn't an average kid. She had issues. I'm sure you're all thinking that yeah who doesn't but let's just say her childhood wasn't the best. Her dad abused her when she was 10 throughout her teenage life and she'd kill me if anyone else knew about it.
He was a pretty scary guy. His eyes looked red and sore,like he'd been crying for hours and hours. His face had sunk and looked as if it had concaved slightly. He looked ill;worn and mangled but according to the paramedics,it was his drug abuse that made him look that way.
I hardly ever went to Neema's house. Not because she didn't want me to,but because she didn't want me to see what it was like for her. She had two younger brothers and she'd take the brunt of his violent spells for them all the time. I saw her being flung across the living room like an old tissue that had been tossed into the bin. I had seen her take beatings from sticks and belts. He punched her in the face so badly once that she was off school for a week.
He used to hit her mother too. Before they met, Neema's mum was a well-known prostitute around East London. She came from Uganda originally, but traveled to the UK in search of fame and fortune. But this wasn't the "promise land" or the "land of the free". She had no proper qualifications to get a legal job,so she was stuck I guess.
That's when Neema's dad 'rescued' her if you'd like. He picked her up one day as a customer and they never looked back. It was years after Neema and her brothers were born that his addiction started and soon spiraled out of control. It was so sad to watch as a young kid,not being able to help your best friend, as she was too scared to be in her own home. I guess that's why we paid as little attention to reality and what was going on around us as possible. We never ever talked about Neema's childhood. That's the way she liked it.