- Heathrow Airport
I heard this soothing voice call me out as I strolled around Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest international airports in the world.
I was in London, UK, waiting for my connecting flight to Belgium which was delayed.
It was my first day abroad, relocating to work with an energy, mining and utility company in Brussels, Belgium, a year after working with them remotely.
For a newbie, experiencing a delay, and waiting in an airport is a test of patience.
But here was this lovely voice that immediately restored tranquillity.
Have you ever been in that moment where something beautiful captures your heart, and seizes all your emotions until you can’t speak? All you do is smile sheepishly.
There I was, staring at her. Putting together the beautiful voice with the beauteous lady that was standing right in front of me.
“Hey,” I finally found my voice. She definitely knew that I was in awe of her.
“I saw the Kenyan flag bracelet on your wrist and thought you might come from Kenya. Or you are just a tourist?” She asked.
“Ohh this one. Yes, yes! I am from Kenya… such a lovely country,” I responded, rushing through my words.
But it was easy to strike up a conversation with her.
“I am from Kenya, Mombasa to be precise. My name is Shani,” she stated as we sat on a bench.
Oooh boy! Do you feel that heartbeat racing?
“Jina langu Joseph (My name is Joseph),” I responded. I almost said Yosefu. Haaa!
We now switched to Swahili and I enjoyed her joyous personality.
These Digo girls…, hmm! Haaa! Her eyelashes were velvety and she had slender eyebrows.
As she laughed, her set of dazzling, angel-white teeth gleamed. One story after another, her enticing eyes gazing at me.
She was also travelling to Belgium, but Antwerp, 45 kilometres and nearly an hour away from Brussels where I was heading to.Heathrow Airport in London, UK - May 21, 2022Heathrow Airport
It was three hours after midnight and my next available flight was until dawn.
“First time in the UK?” she asked.
“Yes, in fact, first time abroad,” I stated, as we both laughed.
“I could tell from a distance,” she added.
Europe was plagued by heat waves and in response, Heathrow had advised passengers to arrive no more than 3 hours before their flight.
We were also reminded to check what we can and can’t bring in our hand luggage in order to keep queues at security checkpoints moving.
“It is a busy summer and I read that Heathrow currently forecasts an average of 104,000 daily passengers. Some summer journeys will either be moved to another day, another airport or be cancelled,” Shani stated.
She had stayed in Belgium for three years, two as a Master's student and one working with an animation company.
“What are you going to do in Belgium?” she asked.
“Work. Energy, mining and utility companies. I was even reading about how to remit money back home,” I added.
“Are you planning on saving or doing projects?” she asked.
“All of those and saving for your dowry,” I added as she laughed.
“I see what you're trying to do there. Anyways, I heard you speak about having a Coop bank account earlier on when you were telling me about doing your shopping and purchasing your ticket, right” she inquired.A Co-op Bank Kenya branch in NairobiFile
“From Remitly, PesaLink, MoneyGram, Western Union, WorldRemit, Poa Pay, Instant cash, TransFast, Wave, Swift Transfers, CoopRemit and other Money Transfers.
“Coop bank offers a wide range of money transfer services that meet your cross-border needs,” she added.
I marvelled. “ Wow.”
“Yes, I have been using Remitly since I came abroad and life is so easy,” Shani added.
My phone rang, it was an alarm - 5:30 am.
“My flight is a few minutes from now,” I said as we looked at each other.
“Maybe I get your number and you show me around Belgium,” I asked politely.
“How much will you pay for a tour guide?” she joked, breaking into her trademark laughter. “I can even teach you some French - J'ai passé un moment incroyable avec vous,” she said.
I was floating, literally trying to comprehend the language. “What have you said?”
“I had an amazing time with you and look forward to seeing you around,” she explained.
“It was an amazing time Shani,” I added as I prepared to leave.
She smiled at me. I now see this smile every morning when she wakes me up.
Today, she reminded me to send money home with Remitly.
“Wake up babe,” she said while handing over a warm cup of coffee.The Co-operative Bank Building in Nairobi.File