Photo of Mursal Saiq

MURSAL WAS BORN IN KABUL, AFGHANISTAN TO MIDDLE CLASS EDUCATED PARENTS, A FEW WEEKS INTO MY BIRTH, MY FAMILY WERE FORCED TO EVACUATE OUR HOME AND GIVE IT UP TO MEMBERS OF THE TALIBAN DURING THE 1990S CIVIL WAR.

WE FLED OUR HOME AND MADE OUR WAY TO INDIA, MUMBAI. INDIA WAS PURE MAGIC. THE HOLI FESTIVAL, DIWALI, EVEN SITTING ON THE SETS OF BOLLYWOOD FILMS TOTALLY MESMERISED BY THE STARS WHO I STILL FAWN OVER TO THIS DAY. INDIA WAS THE MAGIC WE NEEDED DURING A TIME RIDDLED WITH DISPLACEMENT, CONFUSION AND LOSS.

TIME CAME TO MOVE ON URGENTLY, THERE WAS NO WAY TO GO BACK HOME.

THIS IS WHERE THINGS WENT WRONG, DURING THE JOURNEY WE GOT SEPARATED. MY MEMORY’S BLOCKED OUT MUCH OF THE JOURNEY AS IT WASN’T PLEASANT. I DIDN’T SEE HALF OF MY FAMILY FOR MANY YEARS, A PART OF ME FORGOT I HAD SISTERS AND A FATHER AS I WAS SO YOUNG.

NORTH LONDON WASNT AN EASY PLACE TO GROW UP FOR YOUNG REFUGEES, OUR ENGLISH WASN’T GREAT, WE COULDN’T AFFORD TRENDY CLOTHES, BAGS ETC. THIS CAUSED MULTIPLE VIOLENT RACIST ATTACKS. DAD COULDN’T HANDLE US RUNNING HOME IN FLOODS OF TEARS ANYMORE SO HE DECIDED TO MOVE US TO HACKNEY.

HACKNEY, THE PLACE WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE (THIS IS VERY MUCH BEFORE THE GENTRIFICATION OF HACKNEY) FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY YOUNG LIFE I BELONGED.

I WASN’T THE ONLY BROWN PERSON IN THE ROOM, MY TRAINERS & CLOTHES DIDN’T MATTER. MUMS ACCENT DIDN’T MATTER, SHE EVEN MADE FRIENDS! I THRIVED IN HACKNEY.

THE DIVERSE COMMUNITY WAS INSTANTLY COMFORTING, MEETING OTHER REFUGEES & IMMIGRANTS. EVEN THOUGH MUM & HER FRIEND SPOKE DIFFERENT LANGUAGES ALL THEY NEEDED WAS THEIR FOOD, NODS & SMILES!

I MOVED ON TO STUDY POLITICAL HISTORY AT UNIVERSITY THEN STRAIGHT INTO INTERNSHIPS I COULDN’T AFFORD TO DO THEM SOLELY AS I HAD BILLS TO PAY SO I STARTED TO WORK AT @STREETFEASTLDN IN THE EVENINGS AFTER MY ADVERTISING INTERNSHIP. THAT’S WHEN I MET JOSH, I REMEMBER SEEING HIM FOR THE FIRST TIME & HE WAS BRIBING SECURITY WITH MEAT SO THEY’D CARRY HIS CHARCOAL AND WOOD UPSTAIRS AND THE REST WELL IT’S HISTORY.

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