On the third of June, Angelo and I were watching the final game of the Champions league. We were having a great night-in. Unusually, as we like to go out during the weekends. But as we wanted to enjoy the match without interruptions, we decided to stay. We enjoyed the game and were about to watch a movie when suddenly I heard the news. While checking twitter just to see what people were commenting about the match, then I saw it. A terrorist attack had happened in central London, at London Bridge. Right after that, a message from a friend popped up on my Facebook, asking me if I was ok. I answered and rushed to the tv controller to turn it on. I streamed the BBC and there it was.
People running, police officers rushing to help people and clear the area as soon as possible. It was heart-breaking. It brought bad memories of shootings that occur in my home town. I remembered family members and friends being murdered just because they were caught in the middle of a conflict they had nothing to do with. But there was something else.
When I was at primary school on Mother’s Day, our English teacher decided to prepare a special act. My class would sing a song from the Beatles. ‘Do you want to know a secret?’. I remember perfectly, that was the very first time I heard about the Beatles, the U.K. and was interested in learning a bit more. It was so long ago that I used ‘Microsoft Encarta’ encyclopaedia to learn about it. I remember it said how they started in Liverpool city but then there was that word, or what at that time was just a word ‘London’. The article led me to another one. I read about the Royal family, the afternoon tea, total population, the river Thames, the red buses and phone boxes. I remember retaining all that information in my mind.
Then in 2008, I had the opportunity to travel around the UK, for the very first time and I met such amazing people. Although at that time I could not speak fluent English, I felt a connection with them. I felt how caring, lovely, peaceful and authentic they were. That experience marked me forever. It was the first time I heard the concept of veganism as well. The first time I met people not only from the UK, but from all around the world. Africans, Indians, Irish, Germans, Russians, Canadians, Americans, Italians. It was the first time I experienced other religions. All the differences, I embraced and it felt good. When I came back, I remember telling my Mother about how this experience had changed me. I was determined to go back.
Then in 2012, I had de opportunity to go back to the UK and for the first time to London. I changed as a person during those six days. I fell in love. London was and still is, the melting pot of all these beautiful experiences that I remember from 2008. Every language, every nationality, every belief, ideology, religion and education level. All of it with tolerance, respect and more importantly, with acceptance. I remember telling the person I was travelling with ‘I am going to come back and I am going to live here, in London, because this is MY city’.
During these last years, I have been feeling so accepted, so loved, more than ever before. This feeling of acceptance is motivating. It motivates me to be a better person, a better citizen and a better role model, to whoever wants to follow me and I will always be pleased to share it. The positivity has strengthened me so much, that I feel like I was reborn, a completely different person. That is how London makes me feel and I am thankful for have had the opportunity of finding a place where I feel is the perfect home. Like the perfect match.
I am distraught of seeing images of people suffering, running, escaping from the terror while the police risk their lives to fulfil their duties. I could remember every single moment I have spent in those places, which I know like the back of my hand. London Bridge, the Shard, the lovely bakery where Angelo and I have had one of our first dates. The wine tasting place, the German bar…. tears were dropping down my eyes. It felt like a stab in my heart.
The answer to solve these gruesome situations that London and the UK have been dealing with lately, I do not have. Because as much as it hurts, one of the most remarkable values and why people love this place so much is its diversity. The multiculturalism of London is one of its best features. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and their families. Because every single death of an innocent hurts. Not just in the UK, or Mexico or Portugal, in the whole world.
Our hearts are broken right now. All the hate, the crime, the violence around the world feels unbearable at times, especially in moments like these. But I remember every amazing human I have met here in London, in Brighton, in Fleet, in Victoria, in Mexico City, people from all around the world. Although I know that there are vile people, I am also aware about the innocent human beings. The ones who embrace and love life. There are several people who helped me to evolve as a person and others that I have witnessed evolving as better humans too. And this gives strength to anyone. So, to finish this post I want to share a quote from Sadiq Khan:
‘This is our city. These are our values and this is our way of life. London will never be broken by terrorism, we will step up the fight against extremism and we will defeat the terrorist.’