Long summers and endless days, the sun’s rays draping you in a sweet velvet embrace, reassuring you with its warmth, promising you a glorious time ahead. School had finished in the second week of July and a lot of organising and planning had to be done. Cricket tournaments had to be arranged with neighbouring streets, along with a lot of mindless vagrancy.
At the bottom end of Frizinghall, over Canal Road, runs the Bradford Beck, around which is an expanse of fields which we called “the rocks” because of a steep embankment studded with big stone boulders. Right at the top of this embankment was “the rock”, the largest of all the boulders, the size of a small house. On the face of “the rock” was painted in white the prophesy, “Jesus is Coming!” This prophesy had a huge impact on our naive minds and was taken literally. Perhaps it was a final gospel, a doomladen prediction?
However, there were a few questions that bounced, reverberated and ricocheted around our little minds. Was it true? Would He really be coming? When? And what will He look like? These innocently naive questions were of grave importance to us, as we knew that He would be coming – it said so in the Qu’ran! The top of “the rock” was flat and accessible, albeit precariously. From its
summit, the view was stunning. You could see your own house, Heaton Woods, Bolton Woods and Shipley. So, in them lazy afternoons, many a debate and discussion would ensue.
“So, d’ya fink He’s comin’ then?” asked Najam.
“Ah-Uh-Know!” I retorted, as though I had been asked an incredulous question. “‘Ope He comes soon, coz we’re ‘avin chicken biryani tonight”, my mind wandering towards the customary Saturday night culinary delights, that were on the menu tonight.
“Oh yeah? What ya havin’ wiv it?” – Najam now also thinking about the biryani (possibly hoping an invite was in the offering)
“Obviously seekh k’wabs. You know who’s gonna be there, don’t ya? Uncle KalaKhan in his Second World War British RAF uniform and his flat cap!” Laughing -“it’s like he always turns up just after the table’s laid and the k’wab tray’s just been put down! He must smell ’em a mile off!” We giggle together.
“Yeah man! It was probably part of his survival training in the RAF! To be able to smell food, to be able to smell k’wabs a mile off!” rolling with laughter, adds Najam, taking delight in the fact that he was being rude about Uncle KalaKhan!
Inevitably, the sun would start to go down, reminding us the time was nigh and the walk home would have to be contemplated. Hesitantly, we would get ourselves up off “the rock”, brush ourselves down and move on a motion to suspend our welcoming party for Him, for the time being, somewhat dismayed at the fact that today was not the day of His arrival.
“What d’ya fink He’ll look like? Will he be white, ‘coz I heard He were from Englans?” asks Najam.
“Don’t be stoopid! He’s from Persia, innit?” I suggest, unsure if I was saying the right thing, the demographics and the geographical implications being somewhat blurred!
“Doesn’t look like He’s comin’ though, is He?” Finally, the realisation becoming apparent to Najam and to myself. A palpable disappointment would ensue. Here we were, waiting for Jesus, when we could have been playing cricket with the rest of the boys. What was hurtful, was the fact that the Frizinghall boys, were doing rather well, without us! Goodness me! I was supposed to play one down! Hai Allah! (Oh, God!)
“Doesn’t look like He’s comin’, is He?” Finally, the realisation becoming apparent to Najam.
“No, doesn’t look like it”, I agree.
“Maybe tomorrow ‘eh?” Najam, already enthusiastically planning another day at “the rocks”. “I’ll bring any leftover k‘wabs. He might like them!”
“Yeah, maybe tomorrow, maybe tomorrow.”
And the descent would be duly negotiated.
Read Rizwan’s next article The Turkey and the Quail