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The Struggles of Being international


I am what you call an outsider. I do not belong to the people you call friends. Or even someone whose name you can recall (I agree, it’s a bit difficult to pronounce). You may never have even met me. Perhaps, you may have seen me. I was the one who didn’t belong. I never had the courage to look up into your eyes. I didn’t return your smile or reply in the correct, polite manner when you asked me how I was. You may have found me strange. I guess, you thought I couldn’t understand you. Perhaps, you thought I was mute. Maybe you thought that I was downright rude.

Well, I apologise.

And I would like to say,

Hi, Again.

I come from a place very different from yours. It’s quite warm for you, I expect. I’ve heard you talking a lot about the weather. It may seem a bit weird for you but I feel very cold here sometimes. But then, I skip the jacket or two. My mother would have scolded me if I was back home. This is not my home, though. I must adapt. I must feel cold. I’ll stick out if I told you I felt cold.

That’s the thing about it really. Not wanting to stick out. My sister and I, we went on this huge shopping spree before I came here. We bought colourful long skirts, luxurious pashmina shawls and long flowy sarees. I had my doubts, but she told me that I would look like an Indian princess, maybe they would mistake me for Jasmine from Arabian Nights. I still haven’t opened those packages. Every day, I look at the clothes I see the pretty girls wear here. And I order cheap substitutes online. I don’t want to be Jasmine, I want to be you.


But then, I hear it. My accent. You know, I used to be the best writer in my whole university. I got 8.5/9 on my IELTS. But these days, I stammer. I turn brick red in my brown skin when the cashier at ASDA asks me, “Do you want a bag?”. I have got down at the wrong bus stop so many times because I wasn’t brave enough to ask the driver where we were. I can’t answer in lectures when I know the lesson. I just nod my head. I don’t feel like you should hear my accent. I am too afraid to stick out.

I am sorry if I bored you.

I just wanted to apologise for the time you thought I was the simpleton, the silent one, the uptight one or just the rude one.

Let’s not be gloomy though (like the weather)

I am trying, you know.

Perhaps we will meet someday.

Properly, in the English way.

Maybe that day I would have the strength to look into your eyes.

Maybe that day I would have the courage to return your smile.

Maybe that day my accent would allow me to reply to your curtsy.

Maybe we’ll share a beer or two. Maybe we will become friends.

Add a few of those good days,

And then. Just maybe,

I wouldn’t feel like an outsider anymore.

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