It was night-time when we came off the plane. Mumia smiled at me, holding my hand so that I didn’t get lost amongst the crowds of people returning to their Mumias and Babas.
“New beginnings,” she whispered quietly. I looked at her, and saw sadness mixed into her smile. The truth seemed ‘to hit her like a bus’. There was only us. I had lost my own Baba somewhere on the journey, and so we were left here alone to start this new life. I was scared, but I felt that I couldn’t show this even to her. I had to be strong. That had always been what people called me: the strong one.
As I think about all my old friends, I really want to cry. I probably won’t ever see them again. Many of them left at the same time as us, but one by one they seemed to disappear into the night. Mumia says that I’ll make new friends, but I’m not too sure. It took me all my life to make my old ones, so how can I find people to replace them just like that. As I look up at Mumia I see that she’s looking around for something. Not knowing exactly what I’m supposed to be looking for I start to stare around the airport as well. Somehow copying her makes me feel a little bit calmer. My eyes wonder towards a sign: ‘L-E-E-D-S B-R-A-D-F-O-R-D AIRPORT.’ I can’t help but smile. Mumia has told me that we’re safe now. That they’ll be no more running. No more hiding.
She looks down at me, squishing my hand slightly to try to comfort me.
‘I’m fine,’ I say, trying to reassure her that everything is going to be okay. I don’t know whether I sound very convincing, but it’s the best I can do. She leans down to kiss me on the forehead before looking me in the eyes.
‘We’re the lucky ones. Everythings going to be okay.’
I can’t tell whether she believes it or not quite now, but soon we’re walking towards the ‘departure lounge.’
‘They’ll be waiting for us,’ she smiled.
I have no idea how she can put so much faith in these people. We’ve never met them before. I was always told not to talk to strangers, but now I’m just supposed to follow her into a car with a whole group of them? I can’t help but smile up at her. She laughs nervously like she knows exactly what I’m thinking.
‘Things have changed my airtafae.’
As we walk hand in hand through the departure gate there are even more crowds of people. Some are doing exactly what we’re doing, just standing still – trying to take everything in. We don’t have long to do this though – no time to readjust to all the different sounds and faces.
‘Almasi,’ a voice much louder than the crowds of people shouts across the lounge.
‘Almasi,’ he repeats again.
He’s even holding a card with our name on it. I looked up at Mumia and can see her happiness. For the first time I realize that she had never really believed that somebody would meet us at the airport. That was something that we had learned on our travels to here: you can’t trust anybody.
We walk up to the man quickly, still holding each other closely. Most of our fears seemed to disappear for a second, but I’m still thinking about Baba. Almasi family didn’t quite describe us anymore. Maybe he should have just said… well I don’t know what he should have said, but really there was only me and mumia. We’re only a part of the Almasi family.
But anyway, that doesn’t really matter now. We approached the man, and soon we were in this car. Then we were going down this street, and then this street, and it was dark so I couldn’t see where we were exactly going. I somehow felt safe though, even though I had no idea where I was going.
‘We’re going to our new home,’ mumia said as she brushed the hair away from my face. It always amazes me how she always knows what’s on my mind. I can’t think of anyone better to start this new life with, I just wish Baba was still here.
Suddenly the car stops, and this is where it will really begin. The man leaves the car, opening the doors for us. It’s starting to get a little bit lighter now, so I can see the general outline of a house in front of us. This is it. This is where we’re going to live now.
We follow the man up the little step towards the house, and then the door is unlocked and we’re inside. The lights switch on, and suddenly the whole house seems so bright that I can’t see anything.
My eyes quickly adjust to the light, and then I can see everything. We’re in a small sitting room. One sofa, one chair and a t.v. I look up at my mumia, and I can see everything that she’s thinking. It’s not exactly what we had had at home, but at least it was ours. We had somewhere to stay, and to be safe. As the man left we sat not on the sofa but on the floor, holding each other closely. We both cried, and I don’t think either of us knew whether it was happiness and relief, or sadness for those we had left behind.
This was it, our new start. In a few days I would start school, and mumia would have to start looking for a job. Right now though we pushed those thoughts to the back of our minds, and just concentrated on the fact that we were safe and together.