November, 11th 2016
I am so happy right now. I fail to express my feelings. Today I might have just made a friend. His name… wait I just forgot his name. What? As I am growing older it looks like my memory is also fading away simultaneously. Oh yeah! His name is George Sampeter. By the word ‘friend’ i mean that we were both easy with each other.
I remember very vividly the morning George became my friend. George came to school for the first time and not surprisingly, he was late. The prayer had already been said. His father led him through to the headmaster’s desk on the platform. Bolt, he was frightened to death. I could clearly figure that by looking at the way he was crushing his father’s hand. If only I had my father, i would also know how it felt like having my father besides me and clutch his arm.
his father and the head master were greeting each other as if they were brothers. i have heard that your first impression is your last impression was that he looked like a spoiled to me. he was given special attention because his father and the headmaster were friends. he was directly placed into the second standard with the intelligent kids. this father ruined my impressions of him.
Jealousy arose. For mainly two reasons. Firstly because his father was friends with the headmaster. Which gave him special treatment? And secondly because he had a father and I…I do not.
as time passed, I felt rather close to George. My favorite moment was then when he shifted to first standard because he was not intelligent enough. Hmm… This made him shy. his confidence level fell to zero. i then realized that this was the real George and I thought to make him my friend.
Wow! It feels as if it happened yesterday but in truth it has been thirty-five years. I still smirk when I recall our friendship. The first act of our friendship was when I offered George a pencil. Bolt, nowadays friendship is an act that is very dangerous. That is why I trust you the most. One has to be very cautious bolt. One sign of a very close friendship is when one becomes frank with you; he becomes carefree.
Looking back at my friendship with George, I realized that it has been a very good ride. This changed me completely and i believe it also changed George’s life too. I hope we both live happily and our friendship never breaks.
I have to go. My mother is scolding at me. I will be back after eating my dinner. Bye Bolt!
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.
A shiver still runs down my spine each time I think about it. Fear grips my heart when water comes to my mind. So much so, I think I might have developed a phobia towards it as a whole.
I remember it like it was yesterday. What started out as an exciting cruise turned into an almost life-taking disaster. I was leaning against the ship’s railing and gazing into the Pacific Ocean — it was mesmerizing. The water was clear with an emerald touch as it rippled along the perimeter of the ship. I was counting the fish as they flopped and floundered about when an ugly jerk snapped me out of my reverie. It did not hit me as too much of a surprise considering the fact that it was not the first time it had happened. I reckoned that it might have been just another unfortunate aquatic animal collision until it took place again — and this time, harder.
We had encountered our old friend: the glacier. Yet, I was the only poor soul to have had to meet with such fate. The ship hauled me over as I failed to wrap my fingers around the rusty railing of the ship and fell straight into the water. It happened in such a flurry, I barely had time to react or call for help. It was not until my body was a part of the ocean that I allowed this to sink in (no pun intended).
My teeth chattered uncontrollably like those of a toy clown. I continuously kicked at the water and tried to fight it off aggressively, but nothing helped. The waves of the Pacific had taken over and threw me into awkward somersaults, twists and turns as I was engulfed. I could feel the icy water fill my lungs to the point I thought I would be unable to make it. I felt numb and eventually submitted to the ocean, waiting for the life left in my body to slowly slip away. The sound of the waves crashing and people screaming in the back were the only sounds that now rung through my ears. I made one last attempt to shriek and yell in hopes to be rescued; however, no luck prevailed.
I could no longer feel my limbs and thought to myself, “This is it. I am not going to make it out alive”, but then a miracle happened. Of course, I felt almost dead to do anything or to feel any sort of emotion in the moment, but gratefulness still filled me internally and I could not wait to see who my superhero was. I felt the intricately weaved net tickle my nearly paralyzed face and knew there was still hope for survival. I would have squealed with joy if I could. What were the odds of me being rescued even after being close to the bottom of the ocean?
I felt my body being heaved up with great difficulty by what seemed like a heavenly force in the moment. Icy water was no longer crashing against my pale skin and my nostrils were free to inhale, at last. I had never been more thankful for fresh air in my life!
My ‘superhero’ was certainly not as courteous as Superman or Spiderman, but he saved my life and that definitely counted for something. He cursed himself for ever rescuing me to begin with. Can you believe it? However, I still showed my gratitude towards him — Superman or not.
Carlos. Now, isn’t that a funny name? You see, you are nothing more than a momentary creature, who I have created for one reason, and one reason alone: to vent about my frustrations at the moment; namely, about a young boy the same age as me, whose name is George. George Sampeter. A boy from my past, who now influences my future.
If I am to accurately recall, I first met George at school, obviously, and he had come late, sadly. So, there I was, peeking out of my distorted shell of a body to look at what was going to happen to the poor guy. He was terrified, holding his father’s hand for salvation from the Eye known as the school’s headmaster. God, did I feel envious! HE had a father, while I did not? And… it turned out that the father and the headmaster were close friends, which is why George had come late to school, and that he would be one of those boys who would receive special treatment from the school.
Could my day get any more worse than this? And, then, more of the tiger had awakened in me, for George was put STRAIGHT into the second standard! I do apologize for soiling you with my unnecessary anger, Carlos, but the twists and turns of these events were as if Medusa were strangled to bloody, gory death by one of her own snakes – that absolutely, horrendously, incomprehensibly, shockingly, and very much incredibly, unnerving, and the kind of event that would give you stress for the years.
However, the graceful Ice Queen, majestic she was, sent blizzards over my forehead till I was as clean as a mansion, for George, although he was good at reading and writing (good enough to be put into the second standard), was not good at sums. Because of this, he was put into the first standard with us better folk, and what shame he felt! He was so ashamed, to the point that I actually felt pretty sorry for him, and so I decided to go up to him, and try my absolute best to fix his mood, and lighten him up.
I said something like, “Hey. Don’t be so hurt that you’ve been sent from the second standard to the first. I think you’re a nice guy, so let’s be friends. And, here, have a spare pencil end, if your whole pencil isn’t working quite properly.” From that point onward, we became the best of friends, and, boy, did we make the most of it! Whether it was talking together about what interested us most, eating delightful, diabetic sweets like sugar cakes, or even eating sea-salty fish cakes, the bond between us was glue sticking together every fabric of our clothing. Ah, pure poetry….
Now that I am much older, and time has gone by since I was last in school with George, I would say that it is, relatively speaking, time to look back at this period of time, and consider any new interpretations or reinterpretations. The thought of doing this filled me with so much dread that I would have gladly ripped out my heart attempting to do so, being able to hear its faint, subtle beating. Oh, what joy! But, nevertheless, I would say that this was a truly extraordinary friendship, from start to finish. There is not a day that goes by that I regret having made this pledge of trust, and there is not a week that goes by that I don’t feel sorry for having been mean to him at first.
I do wonder, though: can a heart still feel once it has stopped beating? For I am in my old age, and the bad things that have happened around me (including, as the date I am writing this diary entry on alludes to, 9/11) have driven me more than a little bit cynical, that happy moments like these never happen in real life. And yet, alas, it did, thirty-five years ago, in the form of George Sampeter. I humbly thank him for always providing me with a comfortable memory to look back on, to give me hope and life in times of grief, sorrow, dread and depression, and I wish him all the luck in his current affairs.
And, now, I conclude this diary entry on a high note, which especially contrasts the low note I began it with. Finally, for I have better things to do, it is time for me to leave, and attend to those duties. Goodbye, Carlos, you magnificent, wonderful, admirable creature of all temporary goodness there is, for I need to go back to living like I always have!
It has been a long day, without you my friend. And, now that I am seeing you again, it is wise that I tell you about all the sudden events that have recently happened to me: marrying a new husband via arranged marriage, moving to America to settle down there, taking a tour of one of the local supermarkets, and, in general, very, extremely unsure of what to do next, or how to feel about my husband and this place.
Firstly, I should describe the supermarket to you. It was just when we had arrived in my doctor husband’s bland, boring flat, that he decided to take me out to the supermarket, not only for groceries, but also to show me how to “adapt to America.” The environment was hot, and the street smelt of raw, odorous fish, which would have given me an unpleasant impression of the shopping area. Along with all of this, there were restaurants that promised the ‘absolute best of Caribbean and American food’, a car wash that displayed prices of $3.50 on a chalkboard placed among Coke cans and pieces of paper, and a sidewalk that looked as if it were once a pizza-road.
First of all, we went into the bus, and rode it to the shop. Inside it, he told me how to pour the coins in, how to press the tape on the wall to signal my stop, and, in general, told me to behave exactly like an American would. When we reached, and then went inside the shop, he bought a beef-pack, even though I preferred buying those from the butcher; but, suddenly, my eye caught a familiar-looking, blue biscuit-pack, known as ‘Burton’s Rich Tea’. When I asked him if I could buy it, he told me to buy the white store-brand instead, but since I had lost my interest in the biscuit-pack, I just picked it up to appease him, put it in the cart, and then stared longingly at the blue biscuit-pack.
You see, as I told you before, my marriage was arranged. And the arrangers of marriage had it in mind that I would get married off to a doctor, one who had been living in the USA for quite a long time. My aunt and uncle approved of this, even though I wished far greater to go to university. When my husband, who had lived in the USA for about eleven years, talked to me on the plane, he revealed that he was, in fact, an intern doing a residency program, which the arrangers of marriage never told me about, as they instead told me about how much money he must have definitely made. What is more, is that I just found out about this! These things only built up my stress.
He proceeded to tell me about how interns are paid twenty-eight thousand dollars a year, and only work eighty hours a week; meaning, they are only paid three dollars an hour! Even the average high-school student, working part-time, could easily have made far more money, which did do enough to shake me up a bit. My husband confirmed that, after he was done with the residency program, he would become a Consultant, or, as the Americans call it, an ‘Attending’ or ‘Attending Physician’. In the process of doing all of that, he also told me that we would move to a better neighborhood, which adhered to the ‘American way’, and did not have any people who “will never move forward.”
Speaking of which, the supermarket tour was very intriguing and interesting, as it ran so opposite to the supermarkets back in my country. Where this one calls them ‘cookies’, we have always called them biscuits. While this place sells their beef in packs, we would always go to the butcher to retrieve red meat. Over here, people care so much about whether or not they could take their shopping carts up to their cars, whereas us Nigerian folk could not care less about any of that – the point is that there are still carts, carts that can be used. And, finally, the American one was very refined, variable, and gave you the opportunity to do many different things, which was lacking in ours.
There were also some other aspects of this American life that were different. For example, you cannot yell at the conductor for your stop, instead having to press the tape on the wall of the bus to do so. To add onto that, there was also a distinct lack of bargainers in the American supermarket. Yes, the same, slimy sweet-talkers, who would always charm people into trying to buy their lackluster products, just to add one kobo to their price. They would wrap their stuff in plastic bags; if not that, then, most definitely, a couple of worn-out newspapers, so worn-out that even the raw fish I smelled just a while ago definitely smelled better, after which the bargainers would laugh about this.
Like I said at the start, I have no idea where my life is going after this. My ‘doctor husband’ is not technically a doctor yet, his house is bleak and badly furnished, the supermarket was a roller-coaster-kind of an experience, and I definitely do not know if I want to adhere too heavily to the ‘American way’. Thankfully, I have a plan for the future; simply wing it, experience life as it happens, and have peace. Goodbye, Jennifer!
Once again, a busy day at the airport has got me fatigued. It is hectic. The place is bustling. My ears are still ringing from all the announcements. Definitely the farthest thing from mundane.
Three different destinations in one single day — London, Manchester and Leeds. Just as I register the fact that I am finally on ground, it is time to fly yet again. In order for everything to run smoothly — security checking, baggage handling and claim, punctuality of flights, aircraft services — I have no choice but to keep a vigilant eye on things throughout the day.
Commuting back and forth can be agitating as well as exhausting. However, someone has to do the job! Most of my time is spent at Heathrow in London. The airport is always crammed and packed; therefore, there is a higher risk of things not going according to what is on our agenda.
To top it all off, we have our young flyers! We have offered assistance and help to children as young as four years of age. Special treatment is provided for these passengers and are taken extra care of. They are offered several of smaller snacks in between along with the usual two-course meals. Snuggles, stories and stuffed toys are distributed; puzzles, games and movies are watched. A full flight entertainment at its best!
Despite the constant traveling, strict checking and busy schedules, it most certainly comes with its perks as well. I come across and get to interact with people of different cultures and races. And because things tend to get stressful, one develops patience and a pleasant attitude even in the worst situations. Not a minute goes by that is not eventful for an airport manager. Looking forward to filling you in on my day tomorrow!