I met him one day in London, sitting in a pub sipping a soda. He would have fitted better in a café where the drinks are softer and the conversation quieter, less common and more intellectual or so the frequenters to these places feel.
I asked him about his choice of place and he said that he wanted the “roughness” of the pub. Reminded him of back home!
His clothes were sober enough. He wore a long sleeve shirt which was covered by a jacket that had seen better days but which did not stand out. I mentioned that it looked quite “British”.
He began to tell me how expensive it was, how much he had spent on it and what that sort of money could have bought back home.
He was going back having finished his studies, having graduated with a business degree at one of the average universities. An average man, with an average degree going back to his homeland.
He had come here with an uneventful background. There was nothing distinguished about his background. He had escaped the lack of opportunities and status and had gone to England to study.
Between jobs he studied and had finally earned a certificate, but in England he was a small fish in a big sea. He got a small-time job in one firm and when he left it was a non- event.
Nobody said goodbye, no one wished him well, no one asked what he was going to do. He was just another employee, one of the hundreds who had come and gone.
He lived on the bare basics. It showed in his physical stature. He was small built and had to wear his belt tight to hold up his oversized pants.
It was during his walk home after he had left his last job that it struck him that he would never amount to anything in England or for that matter anywhere. He would hardly ever be an average man.
This was when he decided that he would return home. He did not see the contradiction of coming to England to escape from a fate of insignificance and now having to return home to escape his non-recognition in his foreign home.
He was sure that in going back a great future lay in store for him. His foreign certificates would guarantee that he was somebody of status in his homeland.
He was also taking back the small savings that he had. This would help him to get settled until he could buy that big estate in the countryside, something of which he had always dreamt.
He decided then and moved with a certainty and confidence of a man who knew what he wanted and how to get it. The next day he shaved put on his best clothes and went straight to the travel office. He did not bother to make a reservation. He simply booked a flight back home asking to leave within one week.
During that week, he got rid of his few possessions that he could not take with him and packed his personal belongings into a large suitcase. He also went out and bought a brand new briefcase into which he placed his academic certificates and his passport.
He told the landlady that he would be leaving and asked for a refund of the portion of the rent for the period during which he would not be staying. His request was rejected. He did not complain but decided that he would write his protests with a marker on the walls of his room before he left.
On the day of the departure, he made loud noises as he was making his exit from the apartment, which he had called his home. He did not need to say goodbye to the other tenants. They hardly knew him but he had studied every one of them. He closed the door, trucked his suitcase to the main road where he hailed a cab to the airport. He did not look back.
When he arrived in Guyana he stayed with relatives informing them that it would only be a short while until he got settled in. His uncle kept telling him about a nice house in the village for rent but he insisted that he was moving into better quarters in an up-scale section of the country.
He scanned the newspapers every day looking for social gatherings to attend. One day he saw a book launching and decided that he had to attend. He dressed his best and went to the launching.
He had hoped to ask a question but found that there was no place for this. He could not think of how he would be noticed. When it came time for the individual book-signing, he excused himself through a side door. The usher asked him whether he was not purchasing a copy.
He said, “I have one already. Bought it in England before it was released here.”
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