The fucking door again. He breathed in the stale air, huddled at the corner in the back of the truck; the truck that was his ticket to eternal freedom. The truck with the creaky door every time it met violently with a hump or dent in the road. His uncertainties were ludicrous because every single time the bloody door creaked, even though they were driving rather rapidly and he knew it was the earth below them that was the reason for the racket, he thought it would be an officer; an official, ready to tell him to retrace his steps; back to the Diaspora and further away from ‘the land of Angles.’ It had happened in Turkey, after all. They had been seven men at first; now only four remained, in the ice cold truck, the only form of heat being their own breaths and hands, rubbing desperately against each other.
He needed to take refuge; the Middle Eastern region was gradually but undoubtedly becoming the antagonist in this somewhat (not) cliché story. His family was in danger and England seemed to be the only probable solution to his complications in this radical plan of his.
A few hours later and he was stirring from the slumber he was in, to the sound of the engines turning off abruptly. In his drowsy state he couldn’t hear the muffled voices outside but they seemed assertive and authoritative. A wave of panic rushes over him as his eyes widen, looking at the men sat opposite him, with the same fear in their eyes. It was two police officers asking about the contents of the truck, as part of their procedure. His heart hammers against his chest unbearably, as he hears the rattle of the padlock on the door. He gestures for the men to rush over to his side, feeling the stab of a sharp object to his waist as they huddle together. The door on the right is flung open and he could almost taste the anxiety on his tongue, waiting as the knot in his stomach tightens for the officers to finish this dreadful, obligatory check.
‘Yepp, that’s fine.’
The door is closed again, the pain in his waist dismissed as he sighs a sigh of relief, his breath staggering.
Fucking hell. That was close.
APPROXIMATELY 2 YEARS LATER
‘Another one?’ He asks, finding hilarity in the way his wife held the mousetrap so far from her body, given the subject was already dead. The mouse-infested flat they resided in now was a dime compared to their previous home in Kurdistan. They had been fortunate enough in the sense a bomb hadn’t deteriorated them in the warzone they called home. A few mice weren’t an issue, especially since they were going to move in a month or so, into an actual house (words can’t begin to describe how ecstatic he was; trust me, I’ve tried).
He had early shifts; late shifts; Pizza Hut shifts; postman shifts; but it was all worth it. At first, it was hard, having had no prior knowledge of the English language, or the culture. He didn’t know beans on toast, with a side of eggs (that didn’t really seem cooked to him) and sausage was a breakfast. He didn’t know a sandwich + a drink + a snack would suffice for a lunch and he wasn’t aware of the lack of dinner. The first time his daughter had had a Prawn cocktail flavored Walkers crisp, she had compared it, in a very unladylike manner, to vomit. Sometimes, kitchen, chicken and key-chain all sounded the same but his tongue was hungry to learn more. Sometimes, rather than yes, he would shout ‘ahh,’ but he was still learning. Sometimes the weird looks he received were disheartening but another individual’s encouragement would make up for it.
As a young man in Kurdistan you couldn’t have aspirations, it was either the military or taking the role of ‘father’ in your family because your own had died in the military. In London, it’s different. You see faces of diverse cultures everywhere you go but you still feel somewhat misplaced and homesick. You weren’t discriminated against here or told to go back; the Refugee Action didn’t treat you like any less of a human. Their help wasn’t dependent on your race or the religion you followed. The simple fact you were a human in need, was enough for them.
When he had first arrived in London, everything seemed so surreal. It had taken him almost a month to take in the roads, the tall buildings, the almost identical houses, so unlike Kurdistan. The weather was the one thing he couldn’t get used to. No matter how many layers he wore, he was always still cold but maybe that was one of the penalties of his journey. That journey was forever lingering, undesirably, in the back of his mind.
If nostalgia were a human however, she and I would be in a long-term relationship. Kurdistan will always be my home, in my heart. Kurds have a saying, ‘our only friends are the mountains.’ He had come to realize, in this concrete jungle, that he had more friends than just the mountains.
About the author:
Shokhan was born in the midst of war in a city in Kurdistan, Kirkuk. She enjoys writing fantasy though she’s recently opened her heart to creative non-fiction, thanks to Nick, her professor at Uni of Westminster. She was forced to leave her father back home in Kurdistan because of the threats from IS, so she is currently living with her uncle in London.
Photograph © Chris JL