September 26, 2018

Is living in London the good life? by Esame Okwoche

Is living in London the good life? by Esame Okwoche

There are still Happy New Years being thrown around and rightly so. There are many people we haven’t spoken to or seen and the year is still very much in its early days. Leftover Christmas turkey still sits in some fridges; cheeks and midriffs still bear the robust evidence of our indulgence, and already resolutions have been started, revised, or all together abandoned.

Too much of our actions are instructed by sentiments. It’s the end of the year, everyone is saying something, therefore you must come up with resolutions, because the beginning of a year requires you submit a list of resolutions. Daily reflection is good practice, and reflection definitely adds depth to our resolutions.  If you reflect regularly and on the right things then scenarios like the following will not be you.

It is baffling how again and again, women especially, get carried away with the hullabaloo of  the wedding day that they forget to take a proper look at the person they are marrying. Only to realise the day after the wedding, that errmmm! It was the wrong man.

Or expectant mothers who get so carried away preparing for the coming of their babies, (denting large holes in their bank accounts to buy clothes and accessories the baby may never use), hosting elaborate baby showers and spending many hours refining that little quirky detail in the baby’s room. They often forget the most important bit, the nurturing process. But raising a child is not just about cuddles and snuggles and burps , it is also about  cries and smelly poops and many, many, sleepless nights.

welcome to london

Expectation is hope, and hope is a most decent upwardly thing to engage in. But the expectations people associate with coming abroad remains the most absurd and hilarious. Generally there are expectations that life is better in London, than in Nigeria, and generally, that may well be. But this depends on how one defines ‘better life’. If you define better life to mean things like your children will speak with an accent, then fine, they will speak with an accent, only it may not be the fully fledged English language, you expect. It most likely will be a developing language, that observes only some of the rules of proper grammar.

Again, if better life is defined by eating sausages and bacon, and bingeing on chocolate, then fine you will have a better life.

But it’s that expectation that just because you have exchanged one location for another, no matter how better developed; you will suddenly begin to experience heaven on earth. This line of thinking is as ridiculous as thinking  that  because you work in MacDonald’s therefore you are a  Big Mac.  Or because you have subscribed to health magazines and have bought expensive running shoes and registered yourself in a gym, means you have lost weight. A good life is not something that just happens, because you moved from Igede to London, like magic.

So don’t slack on your resolutions, and if you have already, then retrieve it from the bin and do the following –

  • Forget what they say about writing things down on paper. When it comes to resolutions its best left in your mind, you then have the licence to rewrite as often as you like without feeling guilty and when you do feel guilty, there will be nothing to squeeze up and bin.
  • Don’t call it a resolution; there is a staunchness about the word that leaves no room for lagging. Call it something less exigent, like ‘my 2015 fav things’.

I remember my expectations when my family and I relocated to London from Nigeria. We arrived in Autumn. So the trees were bare and the streets were littered with dead leaves. Everything seemed grey, dead. My excitement was replaced by panic and uncertainty: this was no holiday, this was my new life.

I wasn’t feeling the climax I thought I would. I realised that I had already experienced climax. I experienced it in the days and weeks preceding my departure, in the long stares and quiet moments, I shared with relatives. I wanted to tell the cab driver to turn the car around and drive back to Nigeria. I wanted the clouds to recede, the grey cast to give way, but I hung on through Autumn and learnt the lessons of winter.
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