Groggy rainy morning. The day will pick up speed all the way through the evening. I guess the body decides the engine needs cooling down at times. Moving slowly into gear.
He liked the bath towel I’d laid out for him – thick, large. “Is this for me to keep, Madame?” I hadn’t given it a moment’s thought. Of course I said yes, especially after seeing the bit of toweling he was calling his. I’ve known him for close to four months now. His biggest worry yesterday was: should he address the woman taking him next as “vous” or “tu” because he didn’t want to offend. The good news: four months ago I wouldn’t have understood what he was saying even if he’d felt sufficient trust to ask. I said it was always best to begin with “vous” when speaking to a person older or in a position of authority.
Trust. They’ve changed the rules again for persons arriving in-country and requesting asylum. Henceforth the “intake” will proceed on a snappy move from a fingerprint check to see if the person registered in another European town – in which case, send back to port-of-entry, do not pass Go, and so on. (Of course, if the other town no longer accepts refugees…never mind, on to the next step). Next step: intake interview. To last no more than an hour and during which the person must disclose all relevant information (torture, verifiable death threats etc). Not to mention verifiable, certifiable identity from the country of origin, whatever conditions prevail in it.
Picture the scene: months of physical and mental anguish, let’s not even mention the emotional. Fingerprint check, then zip into The Full Story of every physical, mental and emotional abuse that led to your flight from danger. All this to a perfect stranger checking off little squares on a sheet of paper. You fail to mention events you don’t even want to think about anymore? Tough. Next.
So. This is background to one strand in the story. As usual when writing a story with several strands, each one must prove compelling but that’s not enough. The braiding must hold the thing together, somehow. And? And, a crucial element: the writer must feel some compulsion to get the story down, and more than a bit of fun in doing so, or else daydreaming on a rainy day will do just as well.
Next up: either another go at the draft from the top to pick up another strand, or…
The song Diaraby keeps playing in my head. The version by Ali Faka Toure on youtube. It’s a Romeo and Juliet type love song where the girl’s papa refuses the young man’s proposal to his daughter because the young man is too poor. The young man then tells his beloved you must not cry over love. Although, of course, we all do every once in a while.