As my aunt and I neared the house I held my breath
For a moment and averted my eyes
But they were drawn to the window from which the light shone
Which had been our living room three weeks earlier,
Shortly before the house was sold through officious estate agents.
The window was on the second floor and I could not see who was in the room
Although my aunt assured me they were ‘foreigners’ who were changing the makeup of the street.
The house was over a hundred years old, identical to the others stretching out
On either side of it, built to house workers
Who were now dead, some of their names names now forgotten.
Recently the street was filling up with foreigners, according to my aunt.
Our house had surrendered to them,
Former neighbours had felt unsafe with the new dynamic and moved away,
The men loitered outside the houses and smoked,
While no one took care of the small front gardens.
My aunt had not wanted to take this route through our old street
And she sniffed as we neared the end of it,
Disapproval flashing across her face.
She had no personal problem with any immigrants,
I was informed,
Yet they needed to assimilate themselves more into the British culture
Instead of changing the atmosphere of what was once
A perfectly respectable street.
It made me ashamed that I held my tongue
Because she was old and I did not want to confront her
But it was unclear how she imagined the people on the street
Would assimilate with a culture they had no chance to experience
Since the British residents rarely spoke to them
And viewed them with suspicion.