With the news of what is happening in the United States at the moment, and thinking about the inequalities, prejudice and discrimination against many people in this country, I have been thinking of a friend i had when I was still at junior school. I wrote about her a while ago, and this is what I wrote – brought sharply into focus now, nearly sixty years after I knew her. A lifetime ago and many things have not changed.
When I was about ten or eleven our little junior school in Cambridge England, was twinned with a school in Cambridge Maryland, and we had pen-friends My pen friend was Barbara and she was such a sweet girl; sometimes you are able to connect with people even though you may never meet them. I guess that happens now more than ever with social networking and all the ways to make ‘friends’ on-line. Barbara and I wrote to each other for quite a few years, I don’t remember quite when it stopped, but what I do remember was that there was trouble in Maryland at the time we were writing to each other She would tell me that sometimes men would stop her and her friends going places, and that sometimes she was very frightened even to go to school. I was very sad for her, how could people be so aggressive and full of hate for an innocent child?
I was so safe in my world, but my dad Donald had been through the war and seen a lot of ugly and terrible things; he was very socially aware and outraged that my little friend was suffering such hate and prejudice. I guess he had been very aware of what he was fighting for, and who he was fighting against and had hoped that racism and anti-Semitism would be at an end. There were a lot of people from all over the world in Cambridge then, because of the university I guess, and Donald knew many Jewish, Indian and black people. He fought alongside Sikh soldiers in the war, and admired them for their courage, dignity, and strong personalities. He passed on those ideals, hopes and aspirations, and the desire to fight against prejudice and discrimination.
Several years ago I tried to find Barbara again, and managed to get in touch with her sister for sadly Barbara had died when was in her twenties. I still have her photo, as you see, and I won’t ever forget her.