Walking on the high street is daunting. The signs, the chatter, it’s all alien. I understand so little, and nothing is familiar. I long for home, even knowing I can never go back.
It gets worse when I learn a few words: sound combinations that stick in my throat and taste strange on my tongue. I am certain I’m saying them all wrong. People cast glances to their friends, ask me to repeat myself, tut and mutter “bloody immigrants”.
I shrink just a little more each time, longing for a place that no longer exists. A place where I belong.
I saw something the other day, that said “respect staff who don’t speak perfect English, most of us would have neither the skill nor the courage to take a job in a language that wasn’t our first.” As an immigrant myself, I cannot imagine moving to a country where I not only had another culture and accent, but a whole different language (or linguistic system in some cases). Brenda’s beautiful photograph fills me with that sense of foreign, and respect for those people who choose to or are forced to come here and must feel similarly daunted… but make it through and thrive.