Air

We have been here, locked in this constricted space, since I have memory.

I still remember my mother’s stories, how they took them away from their homes. It was morning: some men in uniform, never seen before, abruptly woke them up and, with no explanation, led them on a filthy and constricted lorry.

The journey was never ending, with no water or food for days. Grandfather Abram died, that experience was lethal to him. His body remained with the others until they reached their final destination.

My mother cried and just couldn’t find an explanation, someone must have sold them, betrayed them!

They were led off the lorry as soon as they arrived. One after the other, they entered a room with white walls, worn out tiles and some water diffusers on the roof, or at least that’s what they hoped; but no one would answer their questions, those men only gave despotic orders to, then, ferociously beat those who did not obey. Some of them even had guns in their holsters.

Those men left slamming the door behind them and, immediately, a sound of gurgles came from the walls, the pipes filled with water which then came out of the taps: what a vision!

After a journey in inhuman conditions, the cold and energising water finally washed away the horror from their minds, although for few minutes.

My first memory is the moment right after, when a doctor visited us one by one. The “Doctor”, white coat and gloves, checked our limbs, skull, chest and mouth. I still remember his hands grabbing my head and opening my jaw: the light on his forehead blinded me, and his fingers in my throath made me nauseous immediately.

This is it, the first clear memory of my life: feeling nauseous!

After the visit they led us here, in this cell, strict rules applied: 8.45 AM Jhon arrives with the slop, we queue and eat the first portion.

Same at 13.45.

And at 18.30.

It has been two years now and it is always the same alienating, identical story, every day.

Only new arrivals and forced withdrawals interrupt the monotony.

Some mornings Jhon, followed by two or three men in uniform, bursts into our cell. They take a look around and then point at one of us. Everyone flees and attempts to hide while they rail against us and laugh out loud. The unlucky one is caught and dragged outside by their mighty arms while desperately crying - Who knows where they end up to, I’ve heard some of the stories... but I really don’t want to know. Some months ago they caught my mum as well. Very often we get injections and, if you are unlucky and it burns, then it means they chose you. -

I wait, while the others cry, despair and curse.

I wait spending entire days facing up, towards that only window. I can feel the air, the smell of the winter snow, of the spring breeze and of the dead autumn leaves. This is my way of experiencing the passing of the seasons and of the time.

Some days, when the wind blows from the South, a strange feeling invades my body, it is like a strong, rich smell.

Oh yes, I think I can smell the sea! Not that I know what ‘the sea’ is; I have only heard of it from Ben, one of the latest arrivals. He knows the sea very well; it is a stretch of water much bigger than my bowl, so immense that you cannot see its end, he says.

I would love to see it, dive in it, swim, I am not sure I would be able to swim, though. Ben says it is not difficult at all, you just have to move your paws fast and keep you snout up. Maybe I will try one day.

It’s already 18.30, I’d better queue to get some food.

This morning the injection burnt.

I will finally leave this place.

 

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