I look back at my childhood and I think my take away feeling from it is this absolute blanket of love. We weren’t necessarily rich, but I do feel like I’ve been very wealthy with the love that I was given. I loved my grandmother so unconditionally, and I think that was one of the most painful things is moving away from her.
It’s almost like I’m in my own funeral in that (inaudible) everyone was crying for out departure, and we didn’t know when we were gonna see them again. I remember writing letters to them and then putting my mom’s lipstick on and kissing the letters. I thought there was this magical land, and it’s really not what I thought it would be.
My dad had dollars with him and we got in a black cab and said can you take us somewhere where we can exchange dollars into pounds and can you take us into (sic) hotel. We had no idea where we were going, and then I remember having my first ever English breakfast and loving it. Within the first week we’re able to find Salusbury primary school.
I remember sitting in the classroom and being so frustrated and not being able to understand anything, and I felt that I didn’t have a voice. Salusbury World was incredibly helpful because I would play with the other kids. There’d be an English teacher that would give me books, and my grammar is better than people who went to Harrow and Eton because of Salusbury World.
It was also very emotionally helpful for my parents and I because we’d come from somewhere where we were surrounded by people that loved us to being completely and utterly on our own, and it was like going from a very nice hot bath and plunging straight into an ice-cold lake. We didn’t go back for seven years because of legal issues, and that was very emotional. The last time they’d seen me was as a little child, and now they were seeing me as a seventeen-year-old.
But now when I go back I definitely feel like a Londoner, that I do have something a little bit different. A different culture that I’m proud of now. Before, it used to be a burden, something to be ashamed of, but now I wear it as my armor.
I still look around London and I think its definitely one of my favorite things that there are people from all walks of life, and I feel so lucky to live in this city where I can interact with people from all over the world. It’s such a privilege, and it’s a shame that other people don’t feel that. I used to spend years and years and years dreaming about a British passport.
I used to say I feel like my life depends on this peace of paper. And I do remember that when it came in the post, this feeling of, wow we’re finally settled. We also have kept this coat from when I was ten, and that’s my important object because that is what I was wearing when I made that journey here to England.
And it still fits me because the typical immigrant way I guess is making sure you buy something that’s big that will literally fit me for the next twenty years. It reminded me of how little I knew how much my life was gonna change from that point. And I think that’s why I crave stability now, is because I hated that moment of not knowing where my life would be.
And there were other aspect (sic) for example I couldn’t go to school trips abroad because I didn’t have any papers, so that was quite tough. And having to do a campaign to persuade the home office to keep us in this country as well. It was a struggle, it was such a fight to be here.
I think people sense my resilience through bits of the story that I’ve told them but I’ve also been incredibly careful, in that I don’t want my story to define me. Becoming head girl of my secondary school was pretty awesome. I think going to uni was always a priority, and studying law is something that I’m proud of.
Having worked in the city for the last nine years, and saving enough money to be able to afford my own flat without the help of anyone else. And again, that feeling of having that piece of paper saying that you’re a home owner was also an incredibly proud moment.