That evening as the plane took off; I had no slightest idea where it was going to land. But I bet the pilot did. I am told he knows every place in this whole world wide. I was flying to China for a period of two weeks. I had been selected as the best student in my Chinese Class of four students. Well, if you could be thinking that being the best is just anything then start to think again. I am a Kenyan Citizen whose official languages are English and Swahili. I enrolled in a Chinese Class while still undertaking my Bachelors degree in Political Science in the University of Nairobi and I have been studying it for seven months now. During this period of learning, I found favor with my Chinese teacher who considered me the most brilliant of all his ‘weak’ students as he often referred to them. Well, before I left home for the airport, I had a really long debate with my mother whose main concern was whether I would put up with a totally different people who had totally ‘white’ skin, crazy cuisines, tough religious beliefs, very funny dressing habits and even a totally different language. Because I understand her, I promised to never fail to gather with Christians on our day of worship despite the fact that I knew very well that the Chinese Communist party is majorly Atheist. That though they say there’s freedom of worship for the Islam, Buddhist and even Protestants, still these groups are treated with contempt. Hence at the end of the day I managed to convince my worried mother that she had nothing to fret about.
After several hours of pondering about my last moments in Kenya and a zero guess of what awaited me in China, the plane was soon about to land. There was some voice almost as that of the first person who had spoken initially coming from the speakers on the wall of the plane, asking us to do that which was necessary before we land. I had a mixed up feeling about this whole incident but majorly I looked forward to the time we shall be taken to view the famous and much spoken about Great Wall of China. I had only seen it in movies.
Soon we were going down the fleet of stairs and my eyes kept running back and forth as I tried to trace my Chinese teacher, Mr. Chen with my own eyes. He had gotten to China before me and had promised to come pick me up at the airport as he had promised my mother. Finally I got a sight of him. He had one young lady and a gentleman standing by him. As I walked towards them and saw how they all glared at me with glowing eyes, goose bumps begun to form all over me. As I looked around me, everyone had the type of skin Mr. Chen had and it made me almost feel like some alien which had just landed to earth.
“Welcome to China!” the two companions of Mr. Chen shouted as they both rushed to greet me. They might have been so excited to see and most especially shake my hand. Perhaps they wanted to feel how thick, tough or even dry my hands were. Quickly one of them who introduced himself as Huiliang took my bag and asked me to follow him to the place we will grab something to eat. He was more of a gentleman than I first thought he was. What had drawn me more to Huiliang were his looks. He had the type of a look that would have made any lady travel miles just to see. His hair had those nice curls that I only saw in the movies. Also his Chinese accent did for sure impress me a lot. But what took me off my feet were his eyes which looked straight to me and even right through me. They were as though they were able to see the way he caused me to feel. He pulled a chair for me then asked me to feel most welcome. He kept smiling at me and throwing glances at me occasionally then when he realized I was seeing him, he would look away very fast but shyly and act as though it had been all a mistake.
Thank God for the waitress who walked to our table. She at least saved the day.
“What will I offer you lady?” She asked in Chinese. I still hadn’t remembered what that was supposed to mean.
So to avoid the embarrassment I answered quickly, “No, not yet.” Then Mr. Chen gave me that look he gave his ‘weak’ students and he must have been very much disappointed now that that it came from his beloved ‘sharp’ student. The other lady who came with Mr. Chen laughed out so loudly and before she could utter any word maybe to mock me, Huiliang gave her that look of, we all make mistake girl. That was the moment I dreaded the most. Disappointing Mr. Chen and even embarrassing myself before the guy whom I was already falling in love with.
After that meal we proceeded to my hostel before I was given an almost tight hug by my now good friend Huiliang before he wished me goodnight.
That night as I lay down to rest, I could not get my mind to stop thinking about Huiliang. He had told me his Chinese name meant both a Kind and Good person. And certainly he was. From his warm hug, to his offering to carry my bag, to even pushing the chair for me and mostly cause he stood Ms. Chun who wanted to make me her laughing stock that evening.
Early the next morning a lady stormed in to my room, “so you’re the black lady whom I was told was packing here for sometime? “ I didn’t know how to respond to that but I still did anyway.
“Sure I am. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Judy,” I said as I stretched forth my hand to say hello. But she just ignored me and dashed out of my room with so much haste. It was very weird of her, but still I knew I was to wait for many more of this. Soon after I was ready, there was a knock at my door. I hoped it was not the ‘white’ girl again. Oh, thank heavens. It was the kind and good man Huiliang. In his hands he held a box of chocolate. He smiled at me as he handed them over to me. Then he uttered, “I guess you also take these back in your country, right?” He walked right in and asked me to come with him to some place he was going to show me. I couldn’t hesitate at all. I followed him swiftly and soon we were there.The Great Wall of China. He liked coming to this place and often found it a very nice experience. As we walked around, he took my hand and held it in his. I felt as if my heart had stopped to beat then all of a sudden it was beating massively fast. Was I really sure if this is what I wanted. I am afraid it won’t be easy dating someone from a totally different culture, leave alone marrying them. My mum would not even allow it. Time flew fast and Mr. Chen could really see that I was enjoying the company of my new friend the more. Soon I could speak even more fluent Chinese cause Huiliang had offered to teach me further everyday like foe two to three hours and all the times we were together, he asked me to avoid using English though he also understood it.
Anyone who saw the two of us together thought we had known each other for quite some time now. More than the time I had been here. He told me he was a Catholic and often he had problems going to church cause just like I knew it, the most common religion here was Atheism. We could spend the whole day together studying and reading the Bible in my room before he could later leave for home.
Everything seemed to be going on well until the day he introduced me to his parents as his girlfriend. That wasn’t what I had thought either. It caught me with a surprise. I knew we were going out as friends yet he had gone ahead anyway to call me his girlfriend. My reaction was not anything compared to his mother who gave me a very serious unpleasant look except for his dad who was like, “wow son, it’s nice to finally meet her, you took so long.” Oh my, that was crazy, that he took so long to introduce me, I have only been here for 12 days. Ok then, I just smiled. “Nice to meet you my daughter-in-law.” the dad said shaking my trembling hand then he added, “I just hope you understand Chinese well, huh!”
I then learnt that however much others might be too unfriendly, there are those people who will really like you anyway.
Soon I was taking my flight back to Kenya and I could not help it holding the tears that were drenching my coat. Huiliang and I promised to keep in touch still and he even promised to come for an exchange program at my school next year. I knew I was going to miss him. I had just fallen for someone whom perhaps I was never going to see leave alone marry some day.
“I love you Judy!” He said as he gave me a really tight hug before he kissed my forehead.
“I certainly do love you too Huiliang!” then someone shouted, “Hey lady,wake up! You’re going to be late for class. Hurry up!!!”