I’m back! Don’t ask how long for because every time I announce my hiatus is over, it really isn’t but I do have a plethora of
excuses reasons for my silence on t’ ‘press.
On Monday, we returned to Qatar after a very loooong 7 weeks in the UK. We were the last people we knew to leave Qatar, we truly felt the emptiness of the country as everyone departed one by one for their respective homelands or vacation spots. By the time our flight date neared, we couldn’t wait to go ‘home’. It’s a funny old word, isn’t it? I am starting to hate using it but until I can think of an alternative, it will just have to do.
Our July flight to the UK was as boring as flights usually are until we reached Manchester. I was half-standing and pointing at the very missed sight of English countryside to hubby (so much greenery!) when all of a sudden thud-thud-thud. The plane plummeted downwards as we entered a thick white cloud of never-ending turbulence. Yep, we were back in Manchester alright. The pilot had to turn around and travel further north in order to land. I think he’d just about had enough because while we all sighed with relief from having escaped the turbulence, we were in for another shock: the plane fell from the sky on to the runway. See, it’s things like these that feed my irrational fear of flying. That, and the fact that I am still suffering from the lasting horror of watching the opening scenes of Final Destination 1 before flying to Islamabad on the nightmare known as PIA.
The summer was…well, non-existent. There was no sun but after living in the GCC, it’s not something that bothered us. The cold and rain was a welcome change and being able to breathe, actually gulp in big whiffs of clean air was such a refreshing change. I think most people who return home after living in this part of the world comment on these two things the most – how clean the air tastes and the greenery you never noticed before. But it takes time for the other realisations to kick, the realisation that things are not the same as before. In our longing to go back, we perhaps fantasised to relive the kind of life we had before we moved – to eat at the same places, to go for those long drives, to recreate the same memories with friends and families. But life doesn’t work like that and thank god too!
Our comprehension of the world around is always finite. For this reason, we rarely reflect deeply and we are rarely satisfied. The grass always appears greener on the other side and until you don’t feel it beneath your bare feet, your curious mind never rests. My summer taught me a few lessons. True privilege is being able to walk on the greener grass on the other side without really having to leave your own patch, and in doing so knowing your side is infinitely better, that you were never wrong in taking steps to secure it. I always say it – Qatar has felt like home since I set foot in the country and I will never regret moving here, but visiting the old grass patch – no matter how green it looked from the plane and no matter how much effort was spent tending to it- solidified my love for my home and I didn’t need to compromise my position in order to learn that the grass is plentiful on my side.
I know it’s cliched but it’s also true that life always goes round in circles: we find ourselves facing the same situations, people or places at some point later in life. Nothing ever happens in vain; there is a greater plan and a perfect Planner who has written everything the way it is for a reason. The phrase ‘history repeats itself’ implies pain or violence but the silver lining to history repeating itself is that it also offers chances for redemption and healing, it offers the chance to make peace with the past, the place and people knowing nothing is ever in a permanent state. The UK has been my home for many years, it will have its own place in my heart (no matter how many times I may complain about it) and more than that, being a citizen affords me so many privileges, some that I have only really appreciated since becoming an expat. Hubby would agree too, he felt very privileged as he stacked our Tesco trolley mile high with every type of biscuit packet he could find because a. you can never have enough biscuits, and b. they cost five times the price abroad so we do actually appreciate the little things about England.
But the same time, it’s clear to us that England is no longer the country we’re destined to remain in. Life moves on, in circles or in straight lines, it doesn’t matter so long as you go where you are celebrated. Life’s too short to remain in places and with people who don’t know your worth.
Speaking of celebrations, I returned to work to learn some great news. My Year 11 class left with the best results the school has ever had in English First Language. Keep in mind that they are second language students sitting the same English exam as native speakers in the UK and they still managed to wrangle A*s, A’s and B’s. I’m so proud of them! This is what makes all the stresses of this career worth it. I’m raring to get on with this year providing I don’t accidentally kill myself first because, well…
About three weeks ago, I finally had my wisdom tooth taken care of. It was one of the most painful experiences I have ever lived through, physically more painful than a miscarriage but this is what I mean about being privileged. I was able to have it taken care of by an experienced and trustworthy dentist who didn’t use sub par materials, nor leave bits of instruments in my gum like one local dentist did to a colleague of mine. And it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Although the minor surgery didn’t kill me (alhamdullilah, the dentist did a fab job), I do seem to have turned into a walking hazard ever since. I sprained my foot outside Doha airport because, well, much excitement. I also managed to get the flu which is turning into a chest infection and when hubby bought me breakfast in bed, I thanked him by screaming the house down as scalding hot tea spilt all over my thigh.
If you don’t hear from me for another short while, it may be because I’ve succeeded in self-inflicting a few more injuries which I know would be welcome news for so many of my fans(!) in the UK. Or, it could be I’m back in my AWOL mode. The latter is more likely.