Rafi Aziz is an ABBA-loving ten-year-old growing up in early ‘80s Lancashire. Flamboyant, dramatic and confused about his feelings for the new boy in school, Rafi sticks out like a speckled moth on a mill chimney.


He has to face bullies, challenge the shifting expectations of his eccentric mother and break out from the confines of his smalltown world if he is to be true to himself.


Rafi isn’t prepared to leave his childhood behind without one final flourish of high kicks, a swish of cape and his impeccably Brylcreemed head held high.

 
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Northern Boy

I knew Mother was serious when she let the wild roses haloed around her head slip until they dangled from her ears like mini pom-poms. 

Beta, you will grow horns if you continue to play with girls.” 

I blinked at the absurdity of her comment. How had she gone from being excited at my news to telling me I was wrong for spending time with Shaheeda?

Mother pinned me with a severe expression, her kameez rimmed with white where she had leant into the chapatti-floured edge of the kitchen counter. 

“I am telling you for your own good, young man. You know what happened to the Rizwan’s middle boy?” 

“Who – not Smelly Arshad?” 

“Smelly-welly nothing. He was like you. He used to play with girls. Now they say he cannot leave the house. Because of horns! His poor mother.” 

 
 

©2020 by Iqbal Hussain