We’re going to talk about the story of arriving to a new country, a new life. The story of arriving to London.
At the beginning I was very happy and excited, that after all the waiting and misery in the past- which we won’t discuss, instead we’ll make this a current story. I reached London, as if I was on a trip, and then tried to get into the practical and working life. I was shocked to be faced with a reality that was harder than I expected.
I had thought that once I had arrived in London, all the misery and exhaustion would be over. Instead I faced new challenges. It was the challenge of a mother with two sons – may God keep them safe – in a new country. I did not know the country’s culture, tradition, language, places, or way of thinking. Not even the weather. The weather was very problematic for me.
I was shocked, and felt like I became deaf and mute. Being born deaf and mute is difficult, but becoming so through an accident is even harder. For me this is how it was like with the English language, it created such a huge obstacle that I can’t even describe. I could not express myself, ask, nor answer. This along with two kids in a strange country… it was all very difficult for me.
I tried to challenge myself and challenge the circumstances I was in and learn. At the same time, I wanted to be a good mother. I suffered a lot of losses – my family, my partner, my country, and my job as a lawyer. So I drew a roadmap for myself to come back better. I am very proud of all that I’ve been through, it made me a stronger, more mature person. I started loving life more, and loving my children more, until they became everything to me.
I got into college to learn English. I was very excited, and exerted all my effort. I thought that getting into college in Britain would help me overcome my language-obstacle, teaching me to talk fluently with others. It was actually too simple, they only taught me the basics which I wouldn’t need. I had no option but to stay until I got to the second level. I felt like I was wasting time… I wanted to race time, get across, speak fluently, become as good as my kids. I wanted to help my kids with their homework like I used to, to get a handle over my children and my household. Now was not the time to waste any time or make mistakes.
It took me a long time to get my law degree back home. I had to learn Turkish when we stopped in Turkey, which was very new and difficult for me. However, I knew it was only a transitional period. It was not my priority to learn Turkish, but it helped me a lot. So, I set myself a goal. My kids would help me at home. I got to a place where I understood what I wanted. When a person knows they have a goal and then sets out a plan, they will get there faster. So I started learning inside and outside home. I also started to try and forget the loneliness I was in. It was a very difficult time in London.
The loneliness broke me. I had to be the father, mother, grandmother, and aunt to my kids. They needed relatives. They wanted their grandmother. I had to provide all of this out of nothing, out of loneliness. I tried to treat my kids the way my mother, grandmother, and aunts used to treat me to try to fill the hole we were feeling.
Perhaps I overcame it, in a way, in that I tried to make new friends. A new country gives you an opportunity to choose friends. Back home, friends are always around us. But in this new and strange country, you should know how to choose your friends. I made a group of really nice friends, who supported me and stood by me. We motivated each other. We decided to face our fears. We wanted to communicate with each other more, to overcome the language barrier.
Now, I started to know my way. I started to find life more beautiful and vibrant, hopeful for me and my kids. A forgiving person, who can forget their past, will have a goal for the future. She will be able to improve. My goal was to improve and support myself by myself. I took notes in different situations, and learned from my negative experiences.
And I thank God, and hope to live to the expectation of my family and kids. I also hope I’ve pleased God, and wish to continue my journey the way I like.
By Héla Ammar
A site-specific installation in Shepherd’s Bush Market commissioned for Shubbak Festival 2019.
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