When I left home this morning, I wasn't sure if Westminster Bridge would be open but I still took my normal route, more vigilant than usual. When I reached Trafalgar Square, I learned that Whitehall was still closed. Police and reporters still gathered in the area. I picked up my early morning almond croissant and skinny latte, afterwhich I approached a policeman and asked if I could take The Mall to my workplace but apparently, Westminster Bridge was still closed so I took a detour and walked towards the Southbank instead. The walk was longer than usual but I felt that I needed those extra few minutes to reflect on what happened yesterday. I know I am not directly affected by the incident but I feel sad that this happened in London and to innocent people.
While crossing the Golden Jubilee Bridge and looking at Westminster bridge from a distance, I felt a terrible sense of guilt. Not so long ago when I was in New Zealand, I dreaded the thought of coming back to London. Today reality struck me. Reality that sometimes you don't realise how important something is until something horrible happens. I felt heartbroken and all of a sudden, my love for London grew stronger than ever before. Suddenly, I felt nothing but gratitude. I am grateful simply for the opportunity to live in a city known for its formidable courage and extraordinary resilience. I arrived at work humbled, grateful, and with my love for London completely renewed.
I took this photo the day before the attack.
At work, we briefly talked about the incident but it wasn't long until we were soaked in our daily routine. I looked at today's paper on my lunch break and the photos I saw were heartbreaking. I still couldn't believe that this happened.
At around 3pm, I looked out the window and noticed buses, cars and pedestrians on the bridge. I could only assume that Westminster Bridge was finally open.
I left work just on time this afternoon. I decided to take my favourite route and walked towards Westminster Bridge. Unsurprisingly, it was less busy than usual, especially on a good day like today.
As I moved on, more people appeared from the stairs on the West side of the bridge. I carried on walking and saw smiling tourists taking selfies, parents and their kids taking family photos, some other tourists taking photos of the iconic Big Ben and some just hanging out on the bridge. It was clear that tourists and locals alike were back in their own business.
I took a few more steps and stopped briefly to look at the flowers left on the pavement, and so I could pay a little respect to the victims as well. It was hard to believe that I was actually walking on the bridge where the terror attack happened. I watched as vehicles drove past, and admired the people confidently crossing the road. There were cyclists and runners too. The people walking on both sides of the bridge appeared to act as if nothing has happened. Then something hit me. It could have been any of us, especially those who cross the bridge more than once a day. The mere thought gave me shivers.
I continued my poignant walk towards Bridge St but unfortunately, it was still closed so I turned right on Victoria Embankment. Outside The New Scotland Yard gathered a number of media people doing interviews. At the same time, strangers were taking photos of them too.
I overheard someone say that Whitehall was opened so I made my way there. Whilst I was rushing home, people were making their way to Trafalgar Square for the evening vigil. I could see policemen everywhere. One or two helicopters were flying in the air. The sound of sirens were constant. Some roads were and I believe are still on diversion.
When I finally got home, I told J about my heart-rending walk over Westminster Bridge. Everything seemed surreal to me for some reason. Perhaps because Westminster Bridge has been a part of my daily life for more than three years now.
From our flat, I could hear some people chanting, laughing and talking aloud in the street . The sound of sirens remain constant, but from what I saw today, London is back to normal. As Theresa May said yesterday: