7th November 2016
The time had finally arrived and I was feeling a frenzy of emotions, from nervousness to anxiety.
The plump immigration officer flashed me a smile as he passed my passport along with my father’s back to him. Damp fingerprints were imprinted on the passports due to the officer’s pudgy hands.
We were required to change the cheques now that we were in another country. After Father attained the relevant cheques, we went outside in search of a taxi. Our teeth instantly started chattering as our skin was in direct contact with the moist and goosebump-erupting air. Seeing the dense, grey clouds hanging low confirmed my suspicion of it always raining in England. However, the suspicion was to remain just that — a suspicion. Father chuckled as he informed me how that was the uniform that the English clouds wore on a daily basis.
We made our way to the taxi residing alongside a train of baggage trollies. The taxi was a grand black. Back home, I would have thought that the car belonged to some big-shot if it were not for the plastic board embedded on the top of the vehicle labelling it. I slid into the stiff, leather, black seat and examined the interior.
The road that stretched beyond us looked like something out of a painted picture. It was broad and straight and not to mention that it was bump-free. I was almost lulled to sleep by the hum of the car engine and tyres against the surface of the road.
Seven miles had been covered when the taxi turned off the serene motorway. It was eerily quiet with the few cars and abandoned fields in sight. My eyes scanned for life as we approached the village. Almost every house had about two cars parked in their driveway and cats peering out from the house window, but no people.
At last, we had arrived at the village when more life was to be seen. The locals’ dogs were trotting about on their leads. I anticipated the appearance of a goat or chicken — after all, it was a village.
One tiring journey had come to an end as we reached the hotel. It was too late to do anything; therefore, we lazed and lounged around in the hotel room. I plopped down on the bed and switched the television on. It was quite strange; however, I strained my ears to understand what they were saying, but ended up as a lost puppy — their accents were exceedingly thick! Their thick accents were accompanied by a fast pace and fluency, leading to even more difficulty.
After a couple of moments, I realized how the accents differ even amongst the English people. And why did the English they speak vary from the English that I had been taught at school? It was all too hard to comprehend. I spared myself the headache and switched the television off.
The next day was certainly more exciting. Our tiresome journey paid off instantly when we came across the beautiful landmarks that were only to be seen and read about in books: Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Marble Arch, the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, etc.
We paid a visit to the British Museum and strolled down Charing Cross Road when we found ourselves in Leicester Square.
London was like a whole new planet. Back in Ethiopia — even in the capital — it was bustling, but not nearly as much as it was over here. Cars were stuck in traffic jams more than half of the time and we were forced to walk (not once did we mind, though, due to the lovely weather). The vehicles surrounding me spat smoke and emitted throat-tickling fumes. I was in fits of coughing when I eventually got used to it like everybody else. I observed the buildings and went into awe every time I noticed how the old and new were alongside each other.
We were scurrying home and the adrenaline of it all made it enjoyable. I had just climbed into bed when the village clock struck midnight. The sound of ‘nothingness’ hung in the air. I had never been more at peace.