Sandra decided to abandon a lucrative career as a lawyer for a rather unconventional career in photography much to her parents’ dismay. As expected, her parents were against the choice and repeatedly tried to convince her to stick to law. However, Sandra was hellbent on forging her own path. She moved out with nothing but a small chunk of money in her name and ended up struggling to make ends meet. Her tenacity paid off eventually. An art gallery curator in Greece noticed her work and invited her to Mykonos for a two-week stay. This was only the beginning of her dream life.
Read the full story in The Dreamer Part 1 The Dreamer Part 1
“Good morning dreamer.”
My alarm clock went off. It had been set like that for years and to finally live my dreams and hear the familiar sound sent chills through my body every morning. I stretched out of bed, reached for the alarm and deactivated it then sprung up and made my way to the bathroom. As I freshened up, I couldn’t help but smile at my reflection in the mirror. The hotel room still looked as beautiful as the first time I got there.
I always had my breakfast by the window facing the turquoise waters. I settled at the small table that I had moved there, poured myself a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and grabbed a novel I had been engrossed in for the past few days. As I enjoyed my morning routine, the hotel room phone suddenly rang. I hadn’t received a call from that number since I got there.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Hi, Miss Laila. You have a call from Diana in Kenya.”
My heart stopped. Diana was my elder sister who literally gave me a start in my photography career. It was always a pleasure to talk to her since I felt like she was the only one in our family who understood me.
I quickly connected her call.
“How are you, baby sister?” she answered in a calm almost monotone voice.
“I’m good. This place is too beautiful. How’s home?”
“Home is good. Everyone says hi.”
“I’ll be back soon. I already miss our food. That Nyama Choma and kachumbari at Mikey’s. Mmmmh.”
Laughing, my sister replied, “I’ll make sure I treat you to some as soon as you land.”
I can’t wait. Send my greetings to them.”
“Okay. Have fun. I’m proud of you.”
“Thank you. I love you.” I replied then hang up.
Just as I ended the call, someone knocked on my door. I knew it was Thalia since she always came at the same time every day. I welcomed her in, then hurriedly gathered my equipment and headed out for the day with her.
“We’ll make a quick stop at the gallery before going to our destination.” She informed me which I agreed to.
The gallery was bigger than I expected. Beautiful artwork hung on each wall including the hallway leading to the main gallery hall. They each had the name of the artist below them and where the picture was taken.
As I admired the art, I landed at a familiar one. The caption read:
“Sandra Koki. Nairobi National Park.”
It was my picture – a stunning shot of gazelles frolicking in the vast grassland with the Standard Gauge Railway in the background. In fact, that was one of the first pictures I had taken as a professional photographer, and to know that I was on the right track even at that time was reassuring.
“I see you’ve found your work.”
“I didn’t know you had put it up already.”
“Yeah. That was a big surprise. It was hung up yesterday and it already got some interested buyers. People really loved it.”
“We’ll add two more and see how people react to them. However, you’re doing well so far. In fact, I have some good news for you.”
“Really? What is it?”
“I’ll let Angelo tell you. Just know that you might be spending a lot of time here.” She smiled.
As we walked through the gallery, a tall, well-built man with flowing hair walked towards us. I noticed Thalia adjusting her shirt and checking herself as if to confirm she looked presentable.
“Thalia!” the man exclaimed.
“Hi. How are you?”
“Good and you?”
“Very well. The displays are really doing well. We’ve had a good number of visitors and interested buyers.”
“That’s great.” turning to me. “Maybe we can thank our good luck charm.”
“Oh, you must be Sandra,” he said reaching for a handshake.
“Yes. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Pleasure is all mine. Your work is quite popular. Keep it up.” he remarked then headed to his office.
I turned back to Thalia, “What was he supposed to tell me?” I asked.
“Nothing. Let’s get going.”
Two weeks flew by while I was in Mykonos. The gallery exhibition was a success and my stay was even better. I sold two prints and earned a small fanbase among the art community.
Whenever I’d go out to capture some images, the locals would gather in a crowd whispering to each other about my work. I had photographed a few people in the area and the photos had appeared in the local paper.
On my last days, I took a break from work to finally explore the island and capture some private shots. unlike other days, I went alone. Thalia was not by my side as she always was. It was then that I truly got to mingle with people and got to see a side of the island that I have never seen before. During my shoots for the gallery, we mainly went to the tourist locations but this time, I decided to walk around the island.
I felt a bit uncomfortable since I stood out in the crowd of half-naked white tourists strolling the streets. Additionally, Thalia wasn’t there to respond when people spoke in Greek. However, I had picked up a few words and could respond or ask common questions.
After buying a few snacks, I packed my picnic basket and headed to the beach. I noticed a young boy trailing me from the marketplace. He didn’t say anything and whenever I turned back or stopped, he would hide.
Eventually, he mustered some courage and approached me. He pointed at my camera and I thought he wanted me to take a picture of him. So, I switched it on and pointed it at him. I took a picture and showed it to him. He seemed impressed. As I turned to continue my walk, he ran in front of me.
“Sandra,” he said and I immediately stopped.
“You know my name?” I asked, not sure if he would understand.
“Newspaper.” He replied then took out the newspaper he was referring to.
“Mama.” he continued pointing at a woman in the picture. “You change our lives. Many companies hire her for work. She was a club waitress, she becomes a model now.”
I smiled. The image had actually gained popularity because of her. The way she casually went about her business as I snapped pictures of the vacationers showed a different side of the exotic island that many locals seemed to enjoy.
He handed me a drawing he made of me holding a camera. It turned out he was in the club that day as he always was when his mother was at work and that was when he drew me not knowing the picture I had taken with his mother in the background would gain so much attention.
After our exchange, he returned to the shopping centre and I headed to the beach where I spent the rest of the day.
As a parting gift, the gallery planned to throw me a farewell party at the hotel.
The entire gallery team was in attendance and everyone was dressed to kill. I wore a sequin red dress with a thigh-high slit and red heels to match. My hair and makeup were on point thanks to the stylist who had come to my room earlier that day to doll me up.
As we mingled and exchanged pleasantries, I found myself next to Angelo who had grown fond of me.
“Sandra, I hate to see you leave”
“Me too. Your island is pure magic. I haven’t had enough.”
“Well, why don’t you stay a little longer?” he asked.
I laughed thinking it was a joke.
“I’m very serious. If you want, you can have a permanent position with us.”
“Are you serious?” I said almost choking up with emotion.
“Yes, we’ll be more than pleased to have you as part of our team. Just think about it and give me your response. For now, enjoy your party.”
As the party progressed, I slipped away from the crowd for a few minutes of alone time. Though Angelo’s proposal sounded like a dream come true, I still loved my home country and wanted to be close to my family. It wasn’t going to be an easy decision to make whether I would stay in Mykonos or return home. Nonetheless, I was more than humbled that this was happening to me. The little dreamer in me kept pushing me to accept the offer.
I made my way to the beach. Ever since I was a child, I always found the water very calming. I could think clearly when surrounded by a body of water. This is why I believe I was destined to spend my life near water and what better place to spend it than one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
“This opportunity comes once in a lifetime,” I said to myself.
“Your family will understand. You’re the dreamer after all.”
My inner thoughts wouldn’t allow me to think clearly. Besides, the beautiful view of the ocean reflecting the moonlight tempted me to stay. I decided to make the decision once I returned home. There, I could consult my family and know the best decision to make.
I returned to the party and stayed for a few hours before returning to my room leaving a few people at the venue.
“Safe trip,” Thalia said hugging me tightly. “Please come back even just to visit.”
We had become close over the course of my stay and she felt like part of my family. Similarly, the gallery had become like a second family to me. Everyone was friendly and warm.
As the plane took off, I glanced down then took out my camera and snapped a shot of the island. It was a quiet flight unlike the flight there. I could feel that everyone was preparing to return to their reality. But it didn’t have to be like that for me. Why would I want to leave an island that most people would dream of living in?
By the time I landed, I had made a decision – I was going back. This was all I had dreamt about and it was coming to reality. Why wouldn’t I chase my dreams?
I met with my family shortly after settling back. As I drove to the restaurant where we had agreed to meet, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. I knew my family, especially my parents wouldn’t be so open to me settling in another country. They weren’t as welcoming about my photography career from the beginning but somehow, I was hoping they’d be more understanding now.
“Hi, Mum. Hi Dad.” I said hugging them both then went down to the table hugging the rest of y family.
Everyone, including my nieces and nephews, was there. I looked around and felt sad that if I left I wouldn’t see them again.
“So, you know why I called you here.” I started. “I’m considering settling in Greece.”
“That’s okay. You’re a grown woman now and we trust your decisions.” My father responded.
It was easier than expected. I thought we would argue for hours and he would make me justify everything. However, he seemed happy actually. He approached me and asked me to show him my photography. We spend the whole afternoon telling stories and bonding. He gave me his blessing and promised to drive me to the airport.
After coordinating with Thalia and Angelo, I booked my flight which was leaving in a week. This was the greatest achievement that I, The Dreamer, could ever wish for. The transition was smooth and it was like Mykonos was always meant to be my forever home.
I’ve stayed here for the past year and all I have are good memories, an amazing career, and wonderful friends who have become my second family.
“Hello, my little dreamer.” My dad said as I picked a video call from him.
“Hi Dad,” I replied lounging on a pool bed.
“Wow, look at you. You look so beautiful. What are they feeding you there?”
“I hope you’re enjoying yourself.”
“Of course. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” I replied
“Okay. We can’t wait to come and visit you.”
We hang up shortly after and I picked my laptop to continue editing the pictures I had taken of a music festival we attended the previous weekend. When they say life is a party, I truly understand it. My life is truly a party.
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