When my husband and I first moved to the village, you were the first neighbour that came out to meet us and introduce yourself. You lived in the village your entire life and saw no good reason for going anywhere else. You were an avid bird watcher and always let us know when the first swallows came into the village. You’d tell us about the Mandarin ducks that set up a nest in a tree, the otters playing in the beck, and the badgers you watched during a twilight walk.
One day, in particular, you randomly started talking about Brexit and how there were too many immigrants in the country. I kindly reminded you that I was an immigrant, and you told me that I was “different”. I knew what “different” meant to you. My skin colour was an acceptable hue. The realisation hurt, and I knew it was a by-product of you not leaving the village, and the fear of the “other” outside village boundaries.
I was sorry to learn that the cancer took you slowly, spreading to your lungs, until you no longer could go on your daily walks. I last saw you sitting by your window, oxygen tank nearby, watching your village, before you died a few years ago. I’d like to think knowing me made a difference in your opinion of immigrants, but I’m not sure it did. Kx