All pictures were taken by Saffa’s mum
Quite often, I find myself day dreaming about the good old days of being a child, the innocence that could fool anyone, the mischievousness; doing anything that my heart desired, whether it would be putting my mum’s favourite lipstick on, wearing my dad’s glasses, or attempting to bake cakes using a real oven, because even at the age of four, I knew that my cupcake maker (toy) was fake. The best thing about being four was that I had no responsibilities, no university applications to fill, no results day to worry about. I was free and I would be anyone and everyone through observing habits of people, imitating their gestures, using frequently long words that would make me seem like an adult.
From a very young age, I admired the people that live inside books, whom lives seemed much more intriguing and adventurous than mine could ever be. So I’d pretend to be them, I’d speak the way they would, I’d dress the way they would. My biggest inspiration was Mary Lennox; my favourite character from The Secret Garden. I used to wear a scarlet tartan dress, which was my absolute favourite dress, because it reminded me of Mary, so by wearing it, I felt like I had somehow evolved into her. Then one day I stopped wearing that dress, because it didn’t fit me anymore, and I have to say, my four year old self was absolutely devastated. My mother used to sew lovely dresses for me & even though I had many, there wasn’t another dress quite like my scarlet one & thus, slowly I didn’t feel like Mary anymore.
At the age of five, I used to call myself the “Van Gogh’s daughter”, because I adored him & his art, which made me fall in love with art too. I loved how it made me feel, the pleasure of mixing colours and the shock from discovering a new one, the adrenaline rush from finishing a master piece. I’d paint whatever and wherever I felt like. On the walls, on the kitchen door, on the windows, on bathroom floor. Until I was told that the walls, the kitchen door, the windows and the bathroom floor were not happy with their new colourful uniforms that I forced them to wear, so I apologised to them, but I wanted something bigger than just a piece of paper to paint on, I wanted a giant canvas, an endless sketchbook (which in my mind would be a nice cream coloured wall), something that Van Gogh would allow his daughter to paint on and so I did. I filled the living room wall with characters from the films my dad used to watch which I wasn’t allowed to (though I’d always sneak behind the living room door and observe every detail), monsters that haunted my dreams, and roses, lots and lots of roses. My mother was very disappointed in me and she took my paint pallet away for a few days, and I can assure you that I have never felt so lonely before. It was then I realised that maybe I’m not the daughter of Van Gogh after all.
I found my first best friend; the rain, around the age of eight. The day before my tenth birthday, I cried and the clouds cried with me. I wanted to be water, I wanted to live inside the clouds and turn into a droplet and so in the hope of becoming one, I danced in Mother Nature’s tears, until my feet were sore. I would dance whenever it rained, I would play with water; I’d wash my face as many times as possible, all in the hope of turning into something I cannot be. Regardless of my attempts, nothing happened, I was the same little human girl.
The obsession with fantasy and wanting to be someone or something else other than myself, resulted me in turning into an awkward and very shy bibliophile who’d read about people she could never be, things she could never do and adventures she could never have, because through reading about so many marvellous beings, I never wanted to be my boring old self, I wanted to always be someone special, someone like Matilda with powers or someone like Amelie. I wasn’t utterly great at making new friends, so I pretended to have others; imaginary ones, who also seemed much nicer than having “real” friends. They were all named after different shades of purple; Lavender was my best friend. I’d play hide and seek with them, though I knew that they were just a figment of my imagination, yet it made me so utterly happy. One day, I fell asleep under my parents’ bed whilst playing the game. I was waiting for Lavender to find me, but I guess Mr Sandman found me first. My parents thought I had gone missing or been kidnapped. Let’s just say I spent the next few weeks not being allowed to play with Lavender.
Now that I am nineteen, I’m free to paint as many walls as I desire, free to walk on carpets with my muddy feet, free to use a sewing machines (as long as everything is my own, of course), though it just doesn’t feel the same. I do have Lavenders in my pocket, I still wear my jellies, I still play hide and seek on my own, I still wear a scarlet dress and no one can stop me from doing anything this time.