The Week After: A Working (Desi) Mother Comes to Terms with Brexit
There’s nothing like uncertainty to force you to live in the present.
Drop the kid off to the nursery as usual. Comment to a fellow mum about the beautiful day we seem to be having. Rush to the Underground station to join the mad dash in to work. The streets look the same, except that here seem to be more beat constables around. I look apprehensively at the police car parked next to the local park where I take my son to play. Their presence should reassure me, instead it only affirms the tiny flicker of fear at the back of my mind. I live in an outer London Borough where nearly 64% of its people voted to Leave.
For the first time in seven years of living in the UK do I feel like an outsider. For the first time I wonder, is this really home? Life seems the same but it isn’t. Behind the veneer of normal we are waiting to exhale. The fear of being the “other”, even if it is in my head, feels real.
It must be so exciting,” chirps a friend on a phone call from India. Have people taken to the streets? She wants to know.
If push comes to shove, will I fight or will I run?
“Revolution is exciting from a distance,” I snap back, regretting the sharpness of my tone, dismayed at how I am letting fear take over. Ten years ago I may have shared her view. Not today. Makes me wonder though – if push comes to shove, will I fight or will I run?
Like I said earlier, all seems normal but my confidence and trust in the normality of things has shifted. And it is not just me, people who call this country their own are questioning their status quo, all on account of the colour of their skin or the lilt of their accent.
But I also take heart in the support of people who oppose this Xenophobia – and publicly so. Support is felt personally from colleagues for whom I am still a valued and loved part of the team. Some came forward to talk about Brexit and its fall out, openly condemned the hate crimes, whereas others ensured that it was and remains business as usual in the office. I could almost believe I was in pre-June 23 days.
Change is inevitable, change is hard, it is especially hard when it is thrust upon you
Change is inevitable, change is hard, it is especially hard when it is thrust upon you…When you feel your voice — which you think is the voice of reason — is ignored. I am tempted to sign that petition asking for another Referendum but isn’t that the same as ignoring someone else’s voice? If they don’t agree with my world view, do their concerns lack legitimacy?
What of the racism? No, those who voted Leave are not all racists. Racial discrimination existed long before Brexit was even thought of. Only now the hate of a few is out in the open thanks to this lot – Michael Gove and Boris Johnson leading the attack. This hate is his and his team’s legacy, along with all the lies they peddled. Within 24 hours promises became mere probabilities.
Some say there is hope yet. I desperately want to believe that.
But at the same time, I feel, what is done, is done. Let’s move on…But not without learning our lessons. Most important among them is that we are in it together no matter which side we voted for. We need to somehow turn this tragedy into an opportunity to build a kinder, more inclusive society and, dare I say it, a future not guided solely by economics.
As soon as the dust of this political farce settles, our quest for that silver lining will begin.