“London fridge is for linda, for linda, for linda.” That’s the way I sang it along with my friends instead of London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down but it actually made sense to us.
Coming to London was something that I would dream of oftenly. My dad said “you will go there to study one day and get to see all the places of interest, the bascule bridge known as the Tower Bridge. He knew I didn’t know what that meant; he simply said it’s a bridge that “opens”.
That to me never made sense, I imagined all the Malawian bridges I had ever seen and none of them opened.
London eye was another “thing” he mentioned, you will have a clear view of London once you get on it. He talked about it as well.
You will also have the chance of seeing the Buckingham palace, the Queen’s official residence, I remembered the poem I used to like back in kindergarten: pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been, I’ve been to London to see the queen.
I could not wait to complete my studies in Malawi, I wanted to visit London. I never thought of the “studying business” my father wanted me to do. I wanted to see the bridge that “opens”, the London eye, the palace but most of all, I wanted to play and take pictures in the snow for my friends to see.
Mercy, my sister, who was already in London at that time used to tell me that London was the last place I would want to live. To me, that was an insult. I wanted to see London and that was it.
Finally, it was time to leave. I made sure everyone knew that I was going to London. I didn’t even think that some people are denied entry right at the airport.
Thinking of being away from my parents really hurt, I knew for sure that there will be no “spoon feeding” with Mercy in London but I really wanted to be there.
“I am sending you to London to study my flower (as he calls me). Please do not come back as a London tourist, I need qualifications and take good care of yourself and Mercy” my dad said.
I simply looked at him and knowing what I was thinking, he said, “Listen to me flower, AN OLD MAN MAY MISS HIS TARGET WHEN THROWING A STONE BUT NEVER WITH HIS WORDS”
I knew he took a tough decision to let me go as I was too young to him. But I guess he knew my “no nonsense” sister was going to take good care of me.
I looked at my mum who was all smiles….smiling because my dream came true. “Take care of yourself and be good to your sister, she is now your mother” said my mum. “You have to wear a jean trouser, shoes that will cover your feet, and a jacket to keep u warm since its winter in London now”.
To be honest, I didn’t want to. I wanted to show off my legs when walking down the streets of London since our culture could not let me do that. I just wanted to wear a short skirt. But I had to wear what she wanted and I remember her putting something in my pocket but with my excitement I forgot to check what it was.
The journey was just too long and boring. I couldn’t concentrate on the movie I was watching, probably because I was and still am scared of flying. The queue never seemed to move once I got to Heathrow airport and when my turn came, the whatever officer asked questions endlessly.
My eyes filled with tears when I saw my sister for the first time in years and we kept on talking and talking.
We took an underground train and I couldn’t wait to get out so that I could see the city.
Once we got out of the train station, I felt it…the coldness.
It was so cold that I had to put on the jacket that my mother gave me, the same jacket I called old fashioned.
When we got on the bus and made ourselves comfortable, I stuck my hands in my pockets to make them warm. I felt something and so I pulled it out. Gloves. My mother put them in before I left.
I wore them and leaned on the seat, closed my eyes as tears rolled down my cheeks. “Thank you for everything mother” was all I could say.