My Island: Part Four.

by | Jul 21, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

My name is Abdullah and I’m from Freetown in Sierra Leone. I now live and work in Hackney, which is in London. I love my job. People are so kind. Both the people I work with and my customers. I call them that because I serve them.

They are mostly happy and I am always happy. It rains a lot here in the UK and sometimes it’s difficult finding my way around. However, when I think of home, I switch off. If only we had the challenges of the British people. Too hot, too cold, to wet, not enough rain for my lawn.

I must go and pick up my bicycle. It’s not really mine, I rent it from someone. I think he’s from Eritrea or Ethiopia…they all look the same to me! He lets me ride it when he’s asleep, which is not the best time. Evenings and weekends are very lucrative.

I have it in the morning on Monday to Thursday and he pays me cash, by the job, minus the hire of the bike. Hackney is a good place, full of people like me. We share stories of home, from Sierra Leone to DRC and South Sudan. I am learning French and Arabic.

My customers are all white English. Some are students and others don’t really seem to do anything, except watch TV and eat Greggs. In the morning it’s bacon or sausage buns with coffee and at lunchtime it’s steak bakes with chocolate muffins. I once tried a steak bake. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, I must say.

I miss food from home, I miss everything from home, except the violence. Sometimes, when I’m asleep, I dream about it. I witnessed many terrible things. How can one human being do such things to another? When a customer gets angry with me for being late, because of a puncture or the food wasn’t ready, I smile politely and apologise. A few harsh words are no match for having a hand cut off, or as I witnessed once, your head.

Some people are so kind. Especially students and professionals. They tip well and ask about my life before. I am polite but brief because time is money. However, the real reason is because I don’t like talking about it.

They say there is a shotage of doctors, nurses and teachers here in the UK. I used to teach mathematics and physics in Freetown, but I can’t here, for some reason. My cousin back there teaches Biology but has no work. It’s such a shame.

On my days off, I go to Regent’s Park if it’s sunny and the British Museum if it’s cold and wet. I love looking at the exhibits that the British stole from around the world. Some remind me of home or my long journey here.

At the end of the month, I get paid by the bike owner. I send half home to my family and divide the rest between rent, food and savings. One day I will have my own bike and live like a king. Until then, I will work hard every day and be thankful for my good fortune. Inchallah.


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