Naive I was, then foolhardy and it ended with perseverence and overcoming the fear.
I trudged on along Fulham for a whole slightly more than 30min. Not under bright sunshine, not on familiar territory, not with warm shoes – but rather braving the strong wintry wind slightly less than zero degrees after 10 in the dark night with illuminated street lamps( I have not attempted to become an idiot by venturing into dark streets nor corners) wearing my flat black shoes and following the route of bus 391.
After reaching Charring Cross rail station on Sat night, I hopped onto bus 11 with my friend – thinking that it would drop me off at my home. We had an enjoyable chats amidst our yawns and she soon alighted at her stop. I was of course shocked when the bus terminated at about 10min before it was supposed to reach its ‘final destination’. Thinking to save on transportation cost, I thought that it wouldnt take long to walk back. Following the map at the bus stop, I managed to make the right turns and before I knew it, I was emulating the Service 391’s route.
About 10min into my stint, I kept having this feel that I had made a mistake and as the bitter wind kept attacking my uncovered face and poor ears, I could feel the cold infiltrating from the bottom with each step and I kept wondering how long would it take for my toes to freeze up and drop off. Promising myself that I would flag the bus if it comes, I kept moving forward and hoped that by increasing my speed, warmth will ooze out somehow. Nonetheless, warmth did not come.
I checked out the maps of every bus stop on the way to ensure that I was still heading in the right direction. And of course I stared at the estimated time needed for the bus journey(if I had taken the bus), hoping that miraculously more distance was covered at the next milestone. Slightly more than midway of my journey, I decided to pop into Tesco to stock up on my heat energy as it ran perilously low. I picked up some rocket leaves and made my way to the counter after the store announcing their impending closure for the day. Surprisingly, there was a queue and I stood patiently while my body absorbed the last few waves of heat in the last minutes.
Bidding the cashier ,,Good night”, I stepped out of the store and hastened my pace once again towards home. This time round, I felt a renewed sense of energy and purpose. I checked out the next bus stop and realised that there was about 5min left of a bus journey. Amazed that I had managed to make it so far, I was very much convinced at that moment that I could complete the remaining journey on foot.
I had no idea when I had passed my tipping point. But walking along the streets compared to a couple months back, the initial sense of fear had somehow been replaced by a sense of comfort and security. The initial ‘ foreign land feel’ which I had since my arrival in London had somewhat slowly disintegrated. With the familiar view of the Hammersmith Bus Station looming in the near distance, I gave myself a silent pat on the back.
Finally. Since my arrival ten months ago, I have overcome my fear. I have passed my test of cold.