this is not a hotel: day three
January 27, 2009 § 1 Comment
the third day:
i am awakened by muted voices in the room next to mine. the austrian-nigerians tilted accent through the walls.
as i am rocking aza awake a bullish man walks into the room asks my name and introduces himself as yacob. he proceeds to yell at me that i will get on a plane tomorrow no matter what. they will physically force me if they have to. he doesnt care about the kid. he will handcuff me. and whatever happens to the kid will be my fault not his fault. i did this. not him. i continue rocking aza. i start to tell him that i dont want to be here. i am trying to leave. the guards fucked up my ticket and my luggage. and then refused to talk to me and so i really want to leave and–
–i dont care, he says.
later that morning as aza is watching cartoons, the guards attack the austrian-nigerian couple. i hear loud voices-the screams of ‘leave my wife!’ , ‘i am pregnant’ the knocks of limbs against the wall. ‘you have no right!’ the wail. i turn down the television. and take peeks out of my window. there are 5 or 6 guards amassing infront of the open door, one has a video camera. more yelling. i cant see inside of the room. i cant believe that they are video taping this. and yet it was when i see the guard carrying a video camera that i become scared for them. aza starts to whimper, i turn the cartoons back on. they drag the husband out of the room. i pray the hail mary for them and their unborn child. they lock her into a different cell. as i am being escorted to yacob’s office i hear her yell: you treat us like animals!
when we get to his office aza squeals: fish! pointing to his aquarium. he tells me this is not a hotel. no shit, i think. this is the war for your country’s soul as you drop illegal weapons on gaza like a child playing with water balloons. a ship that has sailed and sunk and sailed again on the third day.
tonight, he says, you will get on a plane. i dont care about the child. this is not a hotel. you cannot stay here. i am going to show you a video. it is of people getting on a plane smiling, shaking hands with prison guards and then a photo of a man on his back, his hands and ankles shackled, being pulled out of a van.
–why are you showing me this?
–there are two ways to get on the plane. the nice way. and then this way. see. see. you are going on the plane. i dont ever want to see you again.
–okay dude. trust me. i dont ever want to see you again either.
–good. then you are going.
–yes. i dont want to be here.
–then why didnt you get on the plane before?
–because you got the wrong–
–i dont want to hear it.
–then why do you ask–
–i only want to hear that you are getting on the plane. that is it.
aza, grins at me, fish! fish! pointing at the aquarium.
–i dont care about the child…
you dont need to threaten her.
–if something happens to her. it is your fault. not mine. not mine.
a couple of days ago i wrote about octavia butlers concept of the post-human. one of the guards calls himself a neanderthal. i agree with him. that is my version of flattery. cause at least the neanderthals gave a fuck. and these guards obviously couldnt give a fuck with a porn star.
instead they keep themselves hopped up on drugs because when they come down from the high there is only paranoia and this job. everyone is out to get them. and theyve been bitten by the light. light a cigarette. kill a fish. everyone in a uniform heart is lonely. and they think its all my fault.
i leave his office. and see el compa in the hallway. honey, they think that we think that we are in a hotel. yacob behind me bellows: why else would you be here? i wave my hand: no, hon, dont answer the question. its rhetorical–he doesnt really want to know. i mean really, this isnt a hotel? cause i totally thought this was a hotel.
i’ll have to do a review of this place for Lonely Planet. This place is getting zero stars from me. What do you call this place: Hotel Detention.
the janitor lady comes in ready to tell me to clean the room. and i smile and explain that i normally clean when aza goes to sleep. and i keep the blankets on the floor for aza to piss on. she looks past me to aza, why didnt you ask for diapers? i say, i did but they say they didnt have any diapers. she says, of course they have diapers you just have to ask. i say, i did ask. peewee fucktard guard pops his head through the doorway and demands, who did you ask? who did ask about diapers? i smile and say, anyone who would come to the door.
the door slips a bit more open and apples and diapers and a broom appear. a mop, a bucket, an extra set of hands.
–what are you? her roomate? i mean her cellmate? the peewee fucktard jokes in english with the janitor. she replies in hebrew. sends him limping away with orders.
there are strange power structures in the world. not everything is immediate transparent like in the homes of the rich. there are moments when weakness vulnerability are ones greatest strengths.
like when the janitor demands that the trolls go get diapers and apples and treat me and my daughter like human beings because if they dont then she has to clean up the mess.
she has the best english in the prison. my room is her last room of the day and she is a mother too. we talk about the best way to toilet train. and whether you should use bleach on the floor with a baby around.
–why didnt you get on the plane?
–because they had agreed to send us to scotland. but when we were about to get on the plane, we discovered that they were sending us to washington, dc. and we told the guards they had made a mistake with the ticket. and so they said that we could get off at amsterdam and then pay to fly to scotland. but our luggage was going to washington, dc. and as we were trying to figure out what to do…they got mad and ordered us upstairs.
–i just needed to make sure that we didnt lose our luggage.
as she finshes mopping the floor for me, she hands me diapers and turns to leave i tell her: you are the kindest person i have met here. she says, they are nice people here. it is just a tough job. they have a lot of pressure from the higher ups…
later that afternoon natasha returns crying to the room with maxime. the guard announces that she is moving back in and we had better get along and i was to take one bunk bed and she was to take the other and he didnt want to hear about us not getting along. okay i say. i look at natasha…where would that guard have gotten the impression that we werent getting along? aza is sleeping and i move my stuff to make room for her and her son. she stands by the sink breaking into sobs and swallowing them. a half-hour later the guard comes back. she grabs her stuff and leaves without a goodbye.
i call the guard to the door a bit later and ask if she has moved out of the room. he says yes…there is no problem with me. it is because we both need privacy.
that evening the blond guard returns and lets me out of my room. el compa aza and i sit facing the night window talking. on the adjoining bench natasha’s eyes catches mine. hers say: i’m sorry. i look away. there is no need for forgiveness. your act stands as it stands.
when we return to the room aza takes her baby doll, pats the baby on the back, says, shhh shhh, puts the baby on the floor, wraps her in blankets and pats her on the back to put her too sleep.
they come to get me around 430 am. we gather our bags and they escort us onto the rolling steps of the plane. on our way to amsterdam.