This is where the journey ends. You have arrived. You can’t see but you can hear, and you have enough English to understand that there will be no more trips, no more transfers. You’ve pieced together that much but it’s nowhere near enough and you still can’t properly come to terms with what is happening to you. Hands grab you around your upper arms and pull you to standing. You think that someone – a new person with a voice you haven’t heard before – is asking someone whether you can walk. Do you look that bad to others now that this kind of question makes sense to ask? You say nothing. You have learned that speaking without being directly addressed is not wise.
And then you become dizzy from being held upright and you slump into the arms of whoever is holding you, and that’s when you realise that more than likely you won’t be able to walk. You have been crouched in a box too short to stand in and too narrow to sit in and your joints can’t handle the sudden freedom. You are marched along for a while, you aren’t sure how long, and sometimes you can place your feet one in front of the other and sometimes you cannot. You try to walk for reasons you can’t fully understand. Pride? An attempt to show some sort of independence or autonomy? To prove to them that you can? That you are a man? That you will remain your own person as long as possible?
You hear the sound of metal moving against metal and then you are seated, roughly pushed down by one of the people holding you, and more gently by the other. You feel absurdly grateful toward the gentle person, but very soon you start to wonder if the harsh/gentle relationship was pre-determined in order to encourage you to develop feelings of being cared for or looked out for.
The hood is removed. The lights are too bright but you cannot raise your hands to shield your eyes because they are shackled, and if you close your eyes you are slapped until you open them again. He speaks English, the one on the left says, at least he speaks it a little. I’ve heard him. The one on the right says nothing. A man behind them asks you if you are hungry. Food, he says, and he mimes eating. You nod. The man nods in return. No food until he talks, the man says, but give him some water.
There are no windows. You can’t tell if it is night or day. It is cold, but you daren’t cough.
* * *
The above piece of writing comprises part of my fragments project, some of which are available on this website. I intend to add new fragments piecemeal, not in any particular order, and as the occasion take me.