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Friday, October 2, 2015

First Morning in London

I am one of thousands, if not millions, who left Iraq escaping the violence, killing and terrorism which are killing the Iraq we knew since 2003. I had a relatively good job with good salary, but I couldn't bring myself to submit to its internal politics and accept its slavery of my mind and integrity. I am well-educated in a subject which barely means anything in a country where literature is dying and people, too busy with figuring out the harsh reality they live in, become indifferent to aesthetic expressions. I have a good loving family, for whom I speak a language that they don't understand. In a moment of despair and skepticism over the future in Baghdad, I reached out for every possibility that can take me somewhere safe where I can find myself and speak the only language I  knew. When a hand was stretched to take me out of the abyss I lived in, I took the chance and packed my bags. I folded my broken-heart, and said good-bye to the world that felt lately so small and suffocating the last breath out of me. 

I arrived London late in the night of the last day of July. Familiar faces of colleagues welcomed me in the airport to help me settling in. My first night in the strange city was sleepless. I was too excited to put myself to sleep. With the first threads of light in the sky, I jumped out of bed, got dressed, and hit the streets to explore the new place. Luckily, there was a park just around the corner in Russel Square. One of the things that I always wanted to do in Baghdad was to walk in a park full of flowers and green gardens, and now my wish was coming true. Pigeons were picking the grounds searching for crumbs, and there was a scrawl running from one tree to another. We don't have scrawls in Baghdad, and was so excited to see that small cute animal that for a moment I wished to be Piper, the witch who freezes time, so I could keep the scrawl on the ground long enough to see it closely and maybe take a picture for it. Bad I was not! I spotted a cafe in the corner of the park; the need for caffeine took me there. A nice old man greeted me with a smile and "how can I help you darling?". With a cheerful voice, I ordered cappuccino and a muffin. My ideal idea of breakfast: sitting in small cozy cafe in a park with the sweet morning symphony of birds and smell of flowers filling the air, while I sip my cappuccino and eat my muffin. Best breakfast ever and now it was happening. 

The breakfast was over, but not my appetite to explore the place. I knew that it was too early for my friends to wake up, so instead of going back to the hotel, I walked down the main street to the south of Russel Square. I walked on the right side trying to capture in my mind every spot my eyes were drawn into. I was not just looking, I was literally gazing at everything. With every step I was taking in my high heels, I could hear my mind screaming Joey's catch line when the six Friends visited UK, "London Baby!!"; I tried to hide the smile which my lips do whenever Joey's line flashed in the middle of my mental cheerful screams, but I couldn't. Luckily I restrained myself from doing his excited moves which he does when saying that!!

The city was waking-up: stores started to open, cafes are arranging their outdoors chairs, and the smell of coffee from the competing Starbucks, Costa and Nero cafes was filling the atmosphere. What could be more beautiful than this: my eyes captured images of flowers on the windows, in the stores and the smell of various coffee brands! But above all, it was safe! It was safe for me to walk and explore with no expected judgement, it was safe for me to walk on my own without a male guardian, and more importantly, it was safe for me to walk, watch, sniff and enjoy without the fear of hidden enemy waiting around the corner or unexpected sound of explosion to ruin the peaceful first morning in London

Nadia. F. Mohammed

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