When he was young, my granddad boarded a ship to the Netherlands without being able to say goodbye. This is how he fled Indonesia, trying to find a better life elsewhere. My granddad was a half-breed, belonging neither here nor there. He grew up near a river in Jakarta, but ended up as a member of the Dutch army. A boy from the streets forced to see the world through a man’s eyes.

In Year 4 we were told to interview our grandparents. While all my classmates had stories about grandmothers who had nursed wounded soldiers during World War II and grandfathers who had led a team of pilots in Canada, my stories were about my granddad swimming with crocodiles and riding a motorbike in town at age ten.

Because my granddad didn’t tell me about the Japanese POW camp, but rather about how quickly he had been able to pull a coconut from a tree, and how he’d won my grandmother’s heart by slow-dancing with her all night. My granddad wasn’t a guy in uniform on the frontline; he was a guy with a greased quiff and white patent leather shoes who had decided to embark on a boat trip to the other side of the planet. My granddad was Peter Pan, a boy with an untroubled childhood who only ever experienced wonderful adventures. And in my mind I joined him in this other world, far removed from reality, where my granddad was able to fly.

My granddad suffered a stroke not too long ago. The words in his book of puzzles became blurred lines, and he completely lost vision in the corner of his left eye. In the hospital he was told that his life would never be the same again; that his body would no longer obey all his commands.

Peter Pan was a homeless little bird, unable to go home due to circumstances beyond his control. And Neverland was not a real country, but rather a place in his head where he went to escape reality.

When my granddad now tells me that he cannot believe his body is not working properly anymore and that his childhood really is a thing of the past now, I tell him about how I faced a Komodo dragon and how I went salsa-dancing on the beach late at night. In this way we will depart for Neverland, a place in our heads where we can escape reality. A place where my granddad is still able to fly.