Tower Bridge, London. Photo by Meral Aydos

London: Leaving or Living It

Maya always loved her long walks by herself on Sunday afternoons. When she was alone, she had the chance to observe other people around her. When she looked at a smoker; she could try to guess why they started smoking. Or when she saw a runner; she was wondering what were they running after or running from. And what made these people keep going about their habits.

In the park, a wide variety of ideas and thoughts used to linger in the air, belonging to unique souls; like different devices, all connected to the same wifi. You just had to pick up someone to explore what’s beneath their soul.

It was like a puzzle.

That was one of those ‘sampling’ afternoons when she was headed to Regent’s Park. She was sitting on a bench surrounded by colorful flowers- the winter could afford. When a couple sat on the bench behind her, Maya was about to resume her walk.

“I did my best.”

‘To arrange a setting for perfect love? You are not a director.’

“I thought, we could continue together in London.”

‘Is it a question to be together, or, in London?’

“It’s not about London; it’s about us.”

‘It was always about London. London is holding me down. I can feel my identity melting. This city is taking me underground.’

Maya changed her mind. Walking away from this conversation happening behind her would be like missing a chance of getting consultancy advice for free, she thought. She was a recent math-graduate and a 24 years old Londoner, who was tired of living in London. She should stay silent and catch whatever she could, she decided without any guilt.

The woman continued:

‘I am struggling to adapt to this country. Life in the UK is far different than what I expected. In Turkey, I was the queen. But here, I feel like a slave. There is such a big gap in my lifestyle. And please, don’t make the joke: “Please mind the gap!” When I hear this announcement while waiting for my train on the platform, sometimes I feel, I am the gap.’

“I think, it’s not about settling in London. It’s about settling in your soul. You are restless even in yourself. It doesn’t matter, where you want to be.”

‘Give me some time. Maybe I will fix it.’

“That’s not something within my capabilities. Cause I don’t OWN the time.”

Maya was struck. She was even more confused than she’d ever been, about leaving everything behind.

As if the man heard what Maya was thinking, he explained further:

“You want your liberty, but unless you uncover what is your biggest passion about your life, and what are the basics you would cling on to make these dreams come true, you cannot liberate your soul. Wherever you go, you will be doomed to be your own hostage. Unless you are lucky enough to reveal the secret gift hidden somewhere deep inside you.”

The women started crying. The man was calm though as if there was nothing in life he could turn a hair, or he consumed all the emotions in the six years. London absorbed what’s left in him. His voice was almost robotic when he said:

“You already spent whole your life in Turkey, you know what it means to be in Turkey. Why are you insisting to spend your second life in a place you already know? If you leave here, there will be missed opportunities. But if you live here, that will be a brand new life.”

So it was about leaving or living, Maya thought. But how would you weigh the scale most fairly, to decide on your life sentence? Where would you locate your jail, in London or abroad? Then her thoughts were interrupted by an ambitious voice:

‘You devoted six years of your life to London. Does it appreciate your loyalty?’

“I’m not craving for appreciation. One has to lose what they have before they can truly appreciate it. I’m more concerned about my feelings. I will stay here as long as I am happy to be here. And for now, I am.”

‘So, what do you want from me?’

“I don’t want anything from you. No one could want anything from another person. This is an illusion.”

Maya left the bench, with a final destination on her mind. It may be the place which she lived forever, but now a place she was ready to call ‘home’.

Londoner and Writer. Short Stories for Sundays.