Bapa by Samuel
My little sister Bea reckons I should change the title of my story to "Grandad". She thinks people won't understand who my story is about. Mum doesn't know but at school I do refer to him as grandad - its just easier that way.
My name is Jo. I was named after my Bapa who was also called Jo. Well, his name is actually Mubarak, but when he came to England at 17 years old he was told he had to change it to Sam or Jo. Bapa chose Jo.
Stepping off the plane from Nairobi and beginning his life as a dental student at Guy's hospital must have been a huge adventure for Bapa. The furthest I have been from my home town in Hampshire is to Staffordshire to visit Grandma and Grandad. It was still an adventure and the temperature difference was probably comparable as grandad doesn't believe in central heating!
The stories of Bapa's student days are brilliant. He had a close knit group of friends and they caused havoc in the phantom head room (apparently this is a room of robotic heads to practice drilling teeth, not as spooky as the name suggests!)
Bapa dissolves into hysterics and his eyes glint with mirth when he recalls sending an old lady to the canteen for a hot cuppa having just fitted her new dentures - only to discover later that he had in fact fitted her with wax build ups rather than the acylic end results! He is less animated when he retells his first attempts to get a job post qualification....
Ring , ring, ring
"Hi! My name is Jo. I'm a new dental graduate from Guys. I believe you have a vacancy for a dental surgeon?"
Bapa has been to an international school and has a cut glass English accent.
"Why yes sir, we do, would you be interested? We could see you this afternoon for an interview? What did you say your name was again?"
"Its Jo , Jo Samji."
"Oh .......... I'm.... I'm terribly sorry my mistake the vacancy is gone."
Minutes later Bapa's friend Di Davis would phone for the same job and get the interview. Weirdly the position was available again.
Bapa met my Nanny-ma and they got married. The neighbours blanched to witness a divorced white woman buying a house but they were in danger of spontaneous combustion when moving day revealed that the divorced white woman came with an Indian husband!!
Nanny-Ma had a hard time in a mixed race marriage but she gave back as good as she got. Once a neighbour asked - "What colour are your children?" Without missing a beat she answered "Oh, they are blue with pink spots!"
Bapa owned his own practice in Dorking and despite a bumpy start became a well respected (loved even - if you can ever love a dentist!) member of the community. His biggest mental anguish these days is - who should he support in the cricket? He will always be my Bapa not Grandad.