Nomads regularly pack up and move on, so too much stuff is an encumbrance.He doesn’t understand why there need to be seven brands of baked beans in the supermarket, say. I’d feared Islam’s treatment of women, but I experienced it as a party religion.
She’s married to Foo Budsakornngamolet, 29, from Thailand.
They live in Plymouth and have two children, Aliza, three, and Alec, 11 months Foo hails from the Karen, a hill-tribe that inhabits north-east Thailand and south-west Burma.
He’s become the fulcrum of the Mongolian community over here, running cultural events and hosting prominent Mongolian visitors.
One thing Bataa does find difficult is Western consumerism.
I hadn’t intended to get pregnant in Iraq, but I was overjoyed when I did. My Kurdish wasn’t good enough to talk to Jimmi’s female relatives about the changes I was going through and I couldn’t communicate through Jimmi, as Kurdish women don’t talk about women’s matters in front of men. So I came back to England, heavily pregnant, praying I could find a way to get Jimmi back here. When I calmed down, I realised how unusual it would be if an African man in his mid-thirties hadn’t fathered children.
The process has been traumatic, but now Jimmi has been granted three years’ leave to stay on compassionate grounds because of Freya. He smokes, drinks and eats pork and I can’t get him to listen to the Kurdish music I bought; he loves Tupac. Life’s been tough for us with all the dramas with the authorities. I can’t look after him anymore.’ I’d met her previously and knew they had two boys together. When I was back in Africa for a third time, trying to secure Shyne’s visa for Britain, we learnt his son in Zimbabwe had passed away.
The Jackson Five were playing and he walked up, put an arm around me, and said, ‘Let’s dance.’ He was refreshingly direct, compared with British boyfriends I’d had. Everything was magical until Jimmi received a letter from the Home Office saying his leave to remain had been refused. I bought a stack of them and still wear them in England. They’re all tiny over there, so only three Western-style dresses were available in my size – all dreadful, puffy things covered in tacky plastic gems – so I just got Jimmi to choose.
Kurdish women are scarily house-proud: doilies on everything, and they’ll rip up the carpets to clean under them when summer comes around. When we married, I told Jimmi outright that I’d never be that way, as I find it ridiculous. I’m hoping to have a second wedding in England, when we can afford it, where I get to be the glamorous bride, rather than the wedding cake. ’ He hadn’t, and I was knocked sideways by the revelation.
He has no rights to disability benefits, so I support him. When I bought presents for Shyne’s family in Zimbabwe they received them modestly, before putting them to one side without unwrapping them.
Later, Shyne explained that they’d never received wrapped presents before, and had no idea what to do with them.
Within a day of being reunited I suggested we get married. Surreally, he’d paid a bride price for his other two wives, so he still owes my family a few cows!