Homeless Hotel - The Irish Times

HOMELESS HOTEL

by Louise Phillips

 

(Published in The Irish Times 26th April 2016)

Homeless Hotel pic 

My name is Keeva. I am seven years old. I live in a hotel with my family because we don’t have a proper home. Some people think living in a hotel is good, but it isn’t. Before we came here, we slept in a car for three nights. When it got dark, we were freezing, and Dad said it was an adventure, and made us laugh. He used to laugh a lot, but he doesn’t do that anymore.

A few days ago, teacher asked everyone to draw a picture of their house. I held a chunky blue crayon tight in my hand, and started with the sky. That bit was easy, then I got stuck. I don’t remember our old house. I only remember bits of it, like the washing machine and other stuff we don’t have anymore. My mind went blank, like the telly, when you turn it off with the remote control, and everything is dark and quiet. I looked at my friends drawing, and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be anyone other than me.

I understand what ‘ashamed’ means. It means not being as good as everybody else, being different, but not in a nice way. I’d like to be ordinary again, instead of being a homeless person.

I told my sister what happened at school. She said I should have drawn a made-up house, because nobody would know it was a lie, but I didn’t want to.

We don’t have a kitchen in our hotel room. In the mornings I eat my cereal in bed. Then I get two buses to school. It’s a long walk too, and sometimes I’m tired even though it’s early. Mam says we live in a dump, but it’s not really a dump, because the rubbish is put in bins.

There are two beds and a cot in the room. Mam and Dad sleep in one, and I sleep with my sister in the other. My baby brother Sean has the cot. He cries a lot, especially at night. Mam says he’s sick because Dad has him stuck in the room all day, but Dad is stuck there too, especially if it’s raining. The room isn’t big. There is a television, a wardrobe and a small fridge in it. The fridge makes a funny sound, and it used to keep me awake, but that’s fine now.

Some people stay in the hotel for a holiday. They have suitcases on wheels. I see them eating food in the restaurant, or watching television on the big screen. We’re not allowed to do that because those things are facilities. There are lots of facilities in the hotel. There is a list on the board in reception: the swimming pool, the sauna and the library. Other things are facilities too, like the magazines and newspapers on the tables, or the brochures in the clear plastic holders at the front door. The toilets are facilities as well, the ones with the brass women and men on the doors.

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