Friday, May 26, 2017

OMAR ROBERT HAMILTON - Refugee Stasis

The camp is the end of the liberal order, the end of the post-WW II world, the end of human rights.

“My friend,” TZEZHS4XS01082016 says when a new man—young, well-fed, bored—appears on the other side of the wiring. “Please. My name. I haven’t heard it.”

THE BOY DIDN’T SLEEP IN THE TENT last night. He has someplace he goes. In the city maybe. It’s better, there’s more space when he’s gone. But TZEZHS4XS01082016 can’t help but feel jealous. TZEZHS4XS01082016 hasn’t been able to leave the camp for months. He could leave if he wanted, but what if they called his name while he was out? He lifts his wrist up, clicks on the light on his watch. 07:31. Why even check the time? It annoys him every time he does it. It’s best to forget the time. What do you need to know the time for? He checks under his pillow for the plastic, the paper within. He worries that he’ll unfold and fold it so many times that it will tear, that some crucial letter will become illegible. But he still needs to check it.

The January snows fell hard. A rivulet of muddy water runs past his tent.
His nylon tent sags heavy under the snow.
He presses his feet into his sodden shoes. Feels his jacket to see if it has dried. It hasn’t. Nothing has. But he has to go outside. He has to listen for his name.

The camp spreads high up the hillside, tents, barbed wire, containers, rubble, trash, people, waiting. Moria. Every day people come and people go, but he stays. Moria. The camp of listening. Every day they read names out and hand papers back through the metal fence at the center of the camp. But whose names? Whose papers? TZEZHS4XS01082016 has been here so long. Sometimes people pass through within a week. And some, it is true, have been here even longer. If they would just give him a sign, an appointment, a look at a list, anything. If he knew they weren’t going to call his name he would walk into the city, he could maybe buy some shoes, he’d spend the day keeping warm inside his tent. But there is no list, no sign, no answers, there is only waiting.

There is movement inside the fence. The Greeks have arrived. The young men with neat beards and soft chins stand behind the razor wire with new papers in their hands. They mangle names with their accents. People from the camp gravitate quickly toward them, listening for a familiar sound. “Abdooola!” the call rises. “Abdoooola!” TZEZHS4XS01082016, his paper tight in his hand, presses forward to the fence. Maybe today. “My friend,” he says through the metal wiring. “My name. I haven’t heard it.” TZEZHS4XS01082016 presses his precious document up against the wiring. “Look. My friend, please look.”

The man, half his age, does not look at him. He flicks to his next paper, calls another name out toward the camp.  Maybe they called TZEZHS4XS01082016 months ago and he didn’t hear it...