Grey sky, dark clothes, pale faces. It was all I’d seen for over nine months. But the sun was finally out, after so many months of biting-cold weather. It was summer and I finally had cause to wear colourful clothes. It’s a Brit thing, I’d come to understand—to wear dull and dark colours, unless it’s summer.
I shoved the pile of grey and black dresses to the right, and pulled out my green dress with floral prints. I put it on and pulled out a pair of unused sandals to go with it (my boots probably felt abandoned). My usually unruly hair somehow seemed wavy and bouncy that day. So, I decided to leave my hair loose. Big mistake.
It was as if the sun was out with a vengeance! As soon as I stepped out the door, the sweat beads around my scalp turned into mini streams. I tied my hair in a bun, as I stood waiting for the bus at the Kingston University stop. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was the sun or an issue with my eyes: suddenly, there was a swarm of pink all around me. The British summer had come alive with pastel pink in everyone’s clothing, except for a few whites and cool blues.
As I stepped into the 65, I was very aware all eyes were on me. It didn’t help with the sweating. Dania had said she’d be waiting for me by the entrance to the Kew Gardens. Great. I’d have to endure feeling like an only grasshopper in a bus full of butterflies, all on my own. Looking unique in brown skin, thick black hair and green floral dress came with unwanted attention. An uncomfortable one hour later, I got off at the Kew Gardens stop. I’d never felt more relieved than when I found Dania waving at me by the entrance.
Her eyes and mouth were wide open. “Oh my god! You look so good! I should’ve worn a bright colour too. I picked a white instead—just so I could blend in.”
“No, that’s what I should’ve done. I don’t think the Brits approve of bright greens.” I looked around, my eyes all shifty.
— “Oh, don’t be silly, dear! You look lovely in that dress.”
Dania and I turned around to see an old British woman standing behind us. Apparently, she’d overheard us.
Crinkly eyed and smiling good-naturedly, she asked me, “You see my little granddaughter here? She’s too shy to ask but she wanted to know where you bought your dress.” She was pointing at a girl of about 8 years old, next to her, who waved at me.
“Oh! I had it custom made in India,” I told her, apologetically.
The old lady looked at her granddaughter. “Well, we’ll have to visit India sometime then, don’t we, Lena?” Then, nodding at me and Dania, she said, “Enjoy the gardens, dears. Lovely outfits,” and went in.
When the two of us entered the Kew Gardens, I saw that my dress resembled the plants around. I’d finally blended in.