Hopes and dreams
On a recent holiday, to a place we love.
'They have no hope in me. I have no hope in me!'
A seventeen year old boy, face impassive, looking straight ahead through glasses with pebble thick lenses. Occasionally when spoken to he turns and gives the speaker a penetrating stare, almost as though he is trying to process the words, to find some hidden meaning in them. To find some solution to his pain.
He has spent much of his life in boy's homes, his father unable to take care of him or to control his wayward actions. He has probably learned little of goodness from the other boys there. The homes operated by priests or nuns trying to instil in the boys God's love. Home not a good choice of words as many that Jamie has encountered are badly maintained with few comforts and much discipline. The priests trying their best on what charity they can get and little support from the church.
Jamie has a strong belief in God, surprising considering his life so far but I am not sure that he has a faith in a god who will save him from his life.
He does have a real friend, although one whose friendship is often abused. She cares for him with hopes that his life might improve. She gives him food, shelter and money when he is desperate. Tries to find opportunities to improve his life. Up till now all of these attempts have failed. But she always welcomes him back, forgiving his 'sins'. And he promises that he will try again.
I think that the word 'sins' is a bad choice. A word that conjures up intended actions that produce something awful. But how far can background be divorced from events of the present? We like to believe that we see beyond the problems that beset our childhood and overcome them to lead a 'good' life.
The 'boy' Jason, really unfair to call him a boy at seventeen he is a young man with the hopes of a better future but the fears that there is no such thing. His dream, along with those of hundreds of other boys all over the world, is to become a footballer. He has moderate skill but not the magic, or spark that could make his life, or indeed the opportunity. How many talent scouts journey to far flung islands searching out undiscovered possibilities? But he does have dreams.
It was a day of tremendous thunderstorms, torrential rain causing rivers to flow down pathways and lightning arcing across the pitch black sky, lending everything an momentary, eerie glow. We had just finished a delicious dinner, always better when prepared by someone else, and had settled down to a 'post postprandial', an advantage of a holiday is spoiling yourself. We became aware that Alice, the owner of the hotel was calling to us and she was looking very distressed.
'Please talk to him, try to explain how he must improve his life.' Of course Jamie had arrived, he'd walked from the home he was staying in, a good few miles in the pouring rain, looking for help of some kind. I think in Alice's presence he feels safe and knows that food, drink and money will be forthcoming. The cynical would say taking advantage of handouts and a dry place to spend the night. I like to think that there is more to it than that.
We tried. Most of his answers monosyllabic, occasionally there would be a spark. Alice showed us a photo of him doing a tremendous back flip, the skill of the young man and the photographer very evident. This produced a pleased smile, but then he seemed to disappear back into where ever it is that he hides himself. We tried to tell him that football is a skill requiring co operation and dedication. I'm sure he sees this but there are so many complexities that prevent him from achieving his goal. He is no different really to hundreds of other young people who have dreams but whose backgrounds prevent them from achieving their heart's desire.
He has no friends, finds the home he is in too strict. When asked again about his future he declares he would like to be a secret service agent. Said completely seriously. In a way I suppose it is more heart breaking than his wish to be a footballer.
We left him with Alice, I'm sure our words, many of them platitudes, will have made very little difference.
Next morning Alice told us that he had gone, she knew not where.
'They have no hope in me. I have no hope in me.'