14 January 2017

Leave to remain

When the doorbell rang on Saturday morning, before nine, before everyone had woken up, I felt the same feeling I had in my stomach on Wednesday when the doorbell rang. Then it was the postman holding a box, and I was disappointed — yes, I would be happy to give it to the neighbour, but really, it was not what I wanted. On Saturday though, I opened the door, and he had his machine out for signatures and was holding a white A4 envelope. I signed, and held it and indeed, it felt like passports settled in the bottom and the address was from Sheffield. I ripped it open and read the first line: Thank you for your application which has now been approved. The letter was repeated five times with five different Pihlaja names. I whooped, as you do, for joy and ran upstairs, having fished the passports out, holding them, showing Yoko who had just woken up. She said, in Japanese, Yokkata ne which is what you might say when your partner found socks on sale or got a free coffee by chance. This was always going to happen though, wasn't it.

Three years ago, when we packed up and came back to the UK, I hadn't thought it would be like it has been. I'm not sure what I had thought. I thought it wouldn't be as hot and easier in some ways. It has been, to be fair. Naomi said last night, 'Was there a bee nest in the house in Malaysia?' and I remembered that yes, there had been. I remember that, she said. I do too, now that she says it. I remember the toilet we had out the kitchen into the back terrace. There was no water heater and it didn't really matter. I thought about that terrace, about Naomi and the cats that would come up. But then it fades away. The children need to go to things, the successes and failures are wiped out because we need to keep going. Someone needs to be somewhere, and we're late.