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Autor tekstu: Richard Chetwynd
Ilustracja: Filip Chetwynd

At the Border


They hardly set their bags down and were wanted for urgent discussions. The details, where they had come from, what they had done in their home countries, what manner of religion they practiced, were already known. They were escorted to separate rooms, empty but for immigration officers on wooden chairs at metal desks with paper and pencil at the ready.

In the first room, the mother was asked to draw a portrait of her daughter. It didn’t have to be good, said the officer. That was a relief to the mother, but she still felt she had to produce something that resembled her daughter, and she was never any good at it. Her hand was a bit shaky, but she managed to draw a little girl in a summer dress carrying two bags that nearly touched the ground beside her.

In the second room, the father was asked to write a poem about his wife and daughter, a short one that captured the essence of their beings. The officer was unhappy with the father’s expression of bewilderment, so he repeated the instructions, adding: don’t worry, we know you are not a poet. The father jotted down words and arranged them into lines, he crossed some out, replaced them with others, tapping his fingers on the table, looking up at the bulb.

In the third room, the little girl sat with her hands beneath her thighs, her shoes dangling above the floor. The officer pushed the paper and pencil towards her, and then got up and left the room.  The little girl didn’t touch the paper or the pencil. She just sat there with her hands growing numb beneath her thighs.


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