Through the wardrobe

3 minute read

Going to school once every few weeks feels like I’m entering a fictional place.

This time, my adventure started along the river Cherwell, dappled with the warm gaze of Oxford’s spring sunshine. Along side other willing adventurers, our punt glided down the peaceful river as we were greeted by companies of river ducks and geese, there to snag any spare bread we would hurl their way.

Next we roamed the earthen pathways of Magdalen college, entranced by beautiful greens and fields of yellow Meadow Vetchling flowers. Journeying there felt like entering a real quest filled with enchantment and beauty.

Stickered on the gates of the deer park was a stone plaque where author C.S. Lewis taught and later wrote the fantasy world of Narnia.

His world, filled with mythical creatures and talking animals was marked by magical landscapes of ancient trees. There snowcapped mountains snaked with little streams of water, trickled down to serene valleys laid with shimmering rivers.

Stumbling into the University of Oxford every few weeks too feels like a Narnian adventure. Entering into a magical academic Disney world, filled with historical buildings, spires and courtyards evokes a sense of awe and wonder.

Enchanted with 16th century dining halls, speckled with archaic libraries, this is where a number of famous individuals once lived and breathed. Here they shaped themselves and mused along these very same cobbled streets and garden fields. It is no wonder individuals dream of coming to this mesmerizing place.

Have you met our talking professors? - *winks*

Being here, we also experience a convergence of our worlds; crossing language, ethnicity, backgrounds and cultures.

African Day coincided with one of our cohort’s dinners. During the dinner several Africans mounted the stage, donned in traditional garments and shared with us their diversity, heritage and cultures.

Despite being a continent home to approximately one-third of the world's languages, somehow, they embodied a sense of warmth and unity.

From celebrating African Day, to the recent Turkish election and the war in Ukraine. These aren’t just stories from a far away place. Here, those stories become real as they represent lives and families of someone we now know.

It’s a surreal experience being able to live in current affairs crossing varying continents.

One of our cohort members who volunteered in the war in Ukraine was invited to speak. He stood and said, 'I’m not good with talking.'

'I flew from Ukraine to Oxford.'

'Coming here, to me, feels like I am escaping from reality.'

'There people struggle with very basic challenges. How to keep warm and how to find food'

When asked on how we could contribute. He responded. 'I would like to buy a van for evac.' He wanted to buy a van to be fitted as a medical vehicle, to evacuate the wounded from the front line.

Debating in class about ethics suddenly felt like a luxury that not all of us share.

Outside this dream, we live through different shades of reality.

The day before my flight to school I received a text from my wife telling me that my friend had passed. He had spent the last few years fighting against brain cancer, for life.

From being unable to work, to losing mobility and losing speech. On 18th May, at 32 years of age, my friend took his last breath.

I believe that day he stepped away from this reality and walked into 'Narnia'. A new world where he was now free to explore unbounded, realms of possibilities; and comfortingly, without the pain and sufferings of this world.

Our lives, though complex and fragmented, is made up of a multitude of dimensions.

Yet a common thread unifies us through the various stories.

Choosing life.