In that part of the city in which I live was once a large mental hospital dating from the nineteenth century. It was home to thousands of patients who were kept inside, like a prison, behind thick walls and high fences. One can still see fragments of the rusty fence that prevented patients from getting lost in the nearby forest. Nowadays, the majority of the buildings have been destroyed and in their place have been built expensive high-rise? flats/ apartments. However, there still remain two buildings where they used to keep the most violent men and women.
The walls are about two and a half meters high, very thick and solid; the buildings are two storied, with high ceilings. One day I met an old Swedish man who used to work there as a male-nurse. He is now eighty-four years old but still active and remembers everything. We talked at the bus-stop while waiting for our bus. He sat on a bench holding the stick in his right hand and pointing with his left at the pavement said, "Just where you are standing was a high wall that continued about fifty meters and surrounded the other buildings." When I asked him what it was like to work there he told me it was difficult because at that time tranquillisers did not exist and if someone got violent, which happened often, the only solution was to tie them to the bed and wait until they became calm again. "At least they got food three times a day and a roof over their heads." he concluded.
Nowadays students live behind the thick walls and probably the majority of them do not know how much suffering is hidden inside these walls. I am glad I do not live there because I do not know if I would ever be able to sleep peacefully thinking about all those humans who only became free when they died.
There is a museum where one can see how patients were treated in those days. When I visited it for the first time, I felt such uneasiness. Looking at the beds with wide and strong leader belts and bath tubs where patients were kept in a cold water, one can only imagine how much suffering they experienced during the years. The majority of them died behind those walls and were buried in a cemetery nearby.
One can still see that among all the madness there were creative people who painted, made sculptures and did other creative work. It is interesting to see how the human mind fought with illness and tried to make sense of it all /of all the confusion. There are dozens of paintings on the walls that witness to the state of mind of their creators.
One of the patients had the idea to make a perpetual-motion machine. He must have spent years sawing away, making all the parts, filing and gluing, until finally, a huge wheel was ready to prove his theory, which unfortunately was wrong/didn't work.
If one continues to walk for about fifty meters one can see the building that dates from when the hospital was first built/established. It is a white painted, oblong, two storied building; about fifty meters long with two windows that still have their metal bars. This part of the building is still a hospital for drug addicts and the other part is occupied by a school. There is also a church inside, for those who still need help from God.
Almost every day I take the bus to the centre and during all these years I have seen many of the same faces coming and going from the hospital, trying in vain to get free of their addiction. Some of them remind me of robots; they take strong medication that make their speech slurred and their movements slow.
When the weather was fine I would take a stroll / when the weather is fine I take a stroll/walk [past or present??] downhill to escape my prison flat. On the left there is a villa which belonged to the hospital's chief in the past; it is situated in the middle of the forest with a few trees and a lawn in front of it. Nowadays, they hold lectures for the medical staff inside, but mostly it just stands empty.
There is a little river and a path runs beside it where one can walk all the way into the centre' it is very peaceful. The other passers by are joggers, bird watchers, walkers and students, cycling to and from their lectures.
There was only one bench around and I always used to sit on it watching the river passing slowly, also a little jetty where I would find a flock of ducks, bobbing gently on the river. Whenever they saw me, they would start to quack loudly. We knew each other for years and I believe when they saw my figure moving slowly and despondently they talked to each other, "Here is he again, the unhappy man." said one "He is always alone," said a second, "He must have gone through some terrible things/times, said a third.
I sit on a bench with a notebook in my hands and try to write down my feelings. Behind me are orchards and gardens which patients used to cultivate and grow fruit and vegetables for their own use, now it is all weeds and grass. The little river is like balm for my soul. It reminds me of the river in my home town where I used to spend the summer months. This river however is cold, and the quality of the water is bad and it is not recommended to swim here. There is a little metal plate which reads that in the eighteenth century, just a few meters from the bench there was a bridge which collapsed, killing nineteen people, so the river was not always peaceful.
On the other side there is a field where Danish and Swedish armies met in a bloody battle ending up in a massacre. Nowadays, every spring, thousands of white and blue flowers bloom all over. People use to say the white are the Danish soldiers and the blue, Swedish.
Whenever I sit there a feeling of deep sadness fills my heart. I feel like a prisoner deported to this far off place where nothing joyful happens to me. I could never have imagined that the life of a refugee would be so difficult in this country that prides itself as one of the best in the world. It was more than fourteen years of suffering, feeling pain and powerless.
We are not welcome here, we are outsiders, strangers. Even our children who are born here and speak the language fluently are called "immigrants."
I am living in a vacuum, trying to keep my mind sane in a society where expediency is one of the main ideals. I had never before heard of such an idea, but here it has been in existence for years and people are simply following the orders of their politicians.
Ethics and morals are not important any more/no longer important. Nobody talks about the character of a person, of his or her feelings. What is important are the material gains, profit and gadgets; and I, who came directly from the war, where thousands of innocent people were killed, women raped, property destroyed, have ended up in a society without love. I know I can search for it for the rest of my life, and never find it, because love is such a rare "phenomenon" here.
I hope this is helpful
it is very good. . . . very interesting,
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