Growing up in a terraced house with my widowed mum and my elder brother, I spent a lot of time alone.
Mum did her best to provide for us; work full time, run the household, cook and clean and support us at school. Inevitably there’s only so much one woman can do, regardless of how superhuman she is.
Every morning and every evening I would spend a lot of time alone in front of the TV. Mum could keep an eye on me while she cooked or cleaned or worked and I would be quiet and content. I probably spent 4-5 hours in front of the TV each day and more on weekends. NB in those days we only had 4-5 channels so there wasn’t even anything worth watching a lot of the time, there were no mobile phones, tablets, and no youtube. Mum would rent pirate hindi movies on weekends which kept us occupied for another 3 hours at a time.
TV was my friend, my teacher, my babysitter and my faithful companion. It taught me a lot good and bad. The first time I saw intimacy or drugs was when I was a kid watching it on TV but I also learned hindi and studied for my gcse’s through TV programs.
Good or bad, I could always rely on it being there which wasn’t the case for people.
My brother was 4 years older and was out most of the time. Age 12, I would finish school at 3.30 and my mum would get back from work at 4.30pm. I remember times whilst being home alone that I would get spooked by a sound, grab a knife from the kitchen hide under the dining table (the same table every Indian household had during the 90s). In some ways, I’ve never grown out of being that scared little lonely boy.
1am last night/early morning (I’m usually up late) sitting alone, I turned on the laptop, hit the play button and started a workout.
Growing up in a lonely single parent household in Southall, I could have never imagined that 20 years later, I would get to represent the Sikh community and the UK one day.