I was staring at that piece of paper and could not believe all those lies. Home Office officer wrote down some of the most horrific conclusions I had ever read. My husband’s visa was refused on the ground of being fake. Our marriage, she thought, was fake! Seconds after seconds, my memory brought back images of the interview I had with Miss Brown, the lady who decided my life was a fake one. She was the rudest person I could meet. Well, thanks God, I have not met her face to face, we just spoke over the phone. Then came in my mind all the struggle, the tough time being here, alone, in a new country, new culture, new job, being asked almost every day why I came here, regarded sometime by some unwelcoming glances. I tried to ignore them as much as I could, keeping in mind and in heart all that good behaviour mum taught me since my early childhood. “Be nice to people all the time”, she used to say to me. Sometimes I wanted to scratch down all that good insight and face back the ugly glances, but somewhere deep in my soul I was feeling guilty in doing so. So, I smiled back with all my force.
You know, my friend, sometimes we do travel all around the world thinking of finding the happiness. Not only in mind, or in dreams, as I used to do when communism borders enclosed us in a “happy island”, preaching us the benefits of being in such and such powerful state. We do travel in real time and space, pushed by the fantasy of colourful dreams. As real as us. Yet, love, yes, love is one of the most powerful force that could take us from our comfort zone and makes us jump the borders. Which I did. And now, looking at that refusal letter from Home Office, I was feeling all their hatred and abuse slapping my honesty.
You may understand well the fact I did not say anything to my parents about the trip plans. I only discussed the matter with my sons. They encouraged me at the most to take the courage and fight for my love. Pakistan is not a popular country, you see, and my co national people are even more afraid about everything comes from this point. I remember the face of the officer at the immigration office in Deva, when I asked for a visit invitation in Romania for a Pakistani citizen. That expression signed up for one of the most memorable moments of the year , realizing then how we people are very easy to judge a whole nation based on what media shows. So, you see, the idea of travelling to Pakistan and to marry my boyfriend there it was crazy, courageous and unbelievable act.
I left Mansfield in the middle of the night. The silence accompanied me from my flat till to the bus station. The silence and the dark. I was feeling no fear for being alone on the streets in the night blackness. I was only full of enthusiasm and that kind of tension, thinking about the new adventure. I got the coach in time for a good arriving at Heathrow Airport. The dawn of a beautiful Sunday regarded my eyes. A sunshine day smiled to my soul. Before departing I called mum. I had the light idea of confessing about my travel. Yet mum picked the phone up and before to say something she started questioning me about the immigration status on refugees’ updates. I was suddenly feeling out of any discussion. “What refugees, mum?” “The ones who are at the border with Hungary now, trapped there. Haven’t you seen on the news?” “No, mum, I got no TV. Life is actually too short to watch TV.” The time was short anyway till my flight should departed. Mum was already too distressed with that refugee’s problem. It was not a great idea to come up with my news of travelling to Islamabad. It may affect her health condition, not so good anyway in the last years. So, I just ended with an evasive plan of a relaxing Sunday.
At Dubai I had to change the flight. Already being over tired I tried to scan all that beauty of an enormous airport, full of shinning panels, glamorous shops and amazing palm trees. In that multicultural river of people, I had for the first time in my life, the awareness of my roots. Can’t explain exactly how it came, yet my Balkan origin was whistling in my ears. Half asleep, I looked at the people faces, amazed by the colors of their cloths, eyes, expressions and languages. Yet I smiled kindly to my new adventure.
Few hours later I was amazed flying over the crests of ones of the biggest mountains. Maybe I looked like an innocent child, full of joy, expressing all that wonder, while tears of happiness flooded my eyes.
I crossed seas, mountains to reach the home of my loved one. Yet I crossed my limitation, the fact I thought before I might not be able to do it. Yet I did it! And I am happy for it. It cured my prejudices, my fear and taught me few more things about humanity at its core.
So, you see, my dear friend, looking now at that ridiculous letter from Home Office, I feel to tell the world that my life is not fake. Is just my life, the best version I have. And even if some people would advise me to not take it personally, I just can’t take this advice. My life is the most personal thing to me ever. My love as well. And God knows how many travels we might need to do in approaching our happiness. Regardless the slaps we might get because we dare to love behind the borders.
© Simona Prilogan, Write Like A Girl ( UK, 2019)