Feelings of teenage girl who has returned to her home country after years abroad
|The room was filled with the laughter and chatter of teenagers. A group of girls were huddled around one desk, pouring over a gossip magazine, exclaiming and giggling over various articles and celebrities. On the other side of the classroom, a group of boys tossed a tennis ball back and forth, their voices loud and boisterous. Some of the more studious students were already going through textbooks, while others were simply chatting and relaxing.
She sat in the classroom, one of the laughing students and yet not. She didn’t look any different, she didn’t even act very differently. She smiled on cue, laughed at the appropriate places, but the mirth never reached her guarded eyes. She was different to them, these students who had never suffered the uncertainty of whether they would fit into a new society. They had never sat in a classroom, acutely aware that they did not understand a single word of the language that the teacher was instructing in, or walked down the street and known that everyone was staring because their hair was blonde. They had not suffered the humiliation of walking into school an hour late because they couldn’t find the building. Never had they faced the struggle of learning new social norms, or endured the icy stares when they’d accidentally broken an unspoken rule that they had never heard of. Nor had they learnt their lessons the hard way, training themselves to watch and study the people around them to fit in, burying opinions and thoughts deep beneath layers of masks and shields.
She was home now…technically. Her passport matched everyone else’s now, she was among her own kind, and she should have been able to fit right in. And yet, she wasn’t comfortable here, it was though she was in another foreign culture all over again. Once again, she was watching others around her to ensure she didn’t go wrong, wearing a mask to the outside world. Would there never be a place where she could be herself? Would she never be home?
The bell rang and the door swung open, as the teacher strode into the room. The class quieted and all attention turned towards the front. She opened her book a split second behind the others, as the teacher began the day’s lecture. She bent her head to begin copying the notes, taking refuge from her thoughts, as she always did, in her work.