GilThis is the third part of my short story, The Lonely Wolf. Please would you correct my mistakes.
“What are your reasons for applying for asylum?” asked
mea jovial middle-aged interviewer of the Swedish Migration Board. Judging by his paunch and bloated face, he was a man who enjoyed good food and drink. He probably went into the city centre every weekend and drank himself into a stupor as many of his compatriots did. I looked at his deep-blue eyes and did not know what to tell him. I did not want to spoil this day for him and recite the list of my own failures, fears, defeats and my miserable existence. I could not tell him about my inner suffering and pain. His bureaucratic mind was not pre-programmed for such nebulous details and descriptions of the state of athe human soul. Therefore, I told him the story he already must have heard hundreds of times: the ethnic cleansing, destroyed homes, rapes, prison camps, merciless guards and emaciated prisoners who would suffer years after they became free.
He nodded approvingly, wrote down what I told him and did not flinch when I described what I experienced in a prison camp. He had already heard similar stories many times and probably believed that people exaggerated or invented their stories to have better chances for asylum.
After the interview was over, I came outside in the sunny courtyard where groups of refugees from different countries and continents stood in clusters talking loudly. There were people of all colours and races; some were still tired from their long and exhausted journey and could barely stand on their legs. Although I could not understand their languages, I knew what they were talking about. They had great plans for the future. They were going to fulfil their dreams, buy a new car, get a job, start their own companies, buy a flat or a house, get a proper education for themselves and their children and help their families in their respective homelands. They were ready to sacrifice everything for their dreams and accept even badly paid jobs. They had seen all kinds of gadgets and goods and they wanted to have them at any price. For the majority of them, the West was the paragon of happiness and they wanted to be part of it. They wanted to forget their pain and their dull existence and indulge in shopping and luxury, just as they had seen on TV.
Unlike them, I had no plans for the future. I was a dead man, doomed to wander this planet like a cursed creature, who would never find peace for his soul. I saw a steep mountain without an end, and I knew I had to climb it day after day but never reach the top. I had to sweat and toil but would never receive any rewards. I would be beaten and knocked down and I had to rise again and go on as if nothing had happened. I would never have a company; never have a wife or a progeny. My only friend would be this pain, which would never leave me until my last breath.
When I returned to my room, my roommates were not there. I lay down on the bunk and howled for the first time since I came to Sweden. I wished I could have stopped, but the pain was too strong and the memories of the killed people felt like knives in my heart. Why did they have to die? Why didn’t I die instead? Why did so many young people lose their lives when they could give so much to the world and wretched people like me were spared? Why should I continue my meaningless existence after which nothing worthy was going to remain? I had many questions, but would never know the answers.
The Swedes were kind to me. They understood that my “illness” was incurable. I was like a cancer patient doomed to a slow but certain death, and they took pity on me. They had already experience with their fellow Swedes who are usually dying stoically. They never complain, never reveal their true feelings and always keep their poker faces even when they suffer terribly. One day they are found dead in their homes, taken away and buried without much noise. They do not complain or cry, do not howl or scream. They wilt away like plants and become numbers in the statistics. In the eyes of the Swedish authorities, I was probably one of them – a man who would soon take his own life and end his suffering in silence. As there is always a shortage of accommodation in Sweden, my demise would be welcome by the authorities, which would be satisfied to have one mouth less to feed.
TO BE CONTINUED
- For Teachers