I recall the loathing and fear
That first day of school at age four.
I just needed mum and dad near
In tantrum I lashed out and roared.
My head teacher dragged me inside
That bright room of faces all new.
In distress my eyes glared so wide
I pondered on what I should do.
The children all looked so surprised
And I could just not comprehend
That I was not being chastised
Instead, I was offered a friend.
“Sit here and you will be alright.”
Said the teacher straight unto me.
So mustering all of my might
I sat by my best-friend-to-be.
Insep’rable friends we became
From that moment I sat with him.
He told me that ‘Aj’ was his name
And there was his wide cheeky grin.
He told me that I’d be alright
That school really was quite good fun.
He saw my distress as my plight
Like he knew what was to be done.
His traditions influenced me
His family’s ways became mine.
What I learnt taught me how to be
Of kindness and fairness combined.
Together we learnt and we played
And we fought, recovered and grew.
This lasted nigh’ on two decades
Then from the nest, one of us flew.
I’d decided not to reveal
The diff’rences between us two.
Fear of rejection was so real
I just hoped deep down that he knew.
My dear friend had done nothing wrong
To me he had not been unkind.
It was just society’s song
That to me in school, folk stayed blind.
Teachers were not able to speak
To acknowledge some kids are gay.
Again we would go through each week
Politics would stifle my day.
So that’s why I never came out
In the eighties through Thatcher’s rule.
Of my friendships, this caused me doubt
Withdrawing while I was at school.
Society cheated me so
It taught me that I should feel shame.
Loss of friendship that I let go
Caused me deep, insuff’rable pain.
Over years, society learned
Diff’rence was not to be hated.
My friendship for which I still yearned
Might survive though much belated.
What if, after two decades passed
To my friend, my truth I could state?
Would our friendship be one that lasts?
Was finding out just tempting fate?
Deep down in my soul I had known
Our friendship was history’s cost.
To kindness my friend’s heart was prone
No more years should have to be lost.
Through Facebook our contact was made
Twenty-six years seemed like one day.
We picked up where friendship had stayed
Now sunshine replaced what was grey.
As I reflect on those hard times
The ‘Iron Lady’ caused divide.
I smile now that I look around
Society’s now by my side.
The time Aj and I missed is sad.
Divisions bring nothing but pain.
But the future now looks so glad
For my friend’s in my life again.
(C) Dean Parsons. 2019.