Tuesday, April 15, 2008
One week of anguish
The pen in my hand doesn’t move to write, my hand doesn’t have the energy to pick up the pen and my brain doesn’t work properly.
All I think about is negative things. I feel I more pessimistic now than at any time before. I am to be evicted from the center where I live, having reached the six month limit allowed for residents. I may end up sleeping on the streets of Milan; therefore every minute is every important. Important because this is the hardest time in my life, important because I can feel and imagine all the others who do not have homes to go to. I can feel and imagine all the poor of India who are born in the streets of Bombay, grow up there and finally die there. But I did not start out like them; I was not born on the street and never had to sleep on the street before coming to Italy.
I hope you will forgive me if I am writing these paragraphs messily, or am not focused. It is not my fault that my current situation is like this. I am living in Milan, one of the biggest cities in Italy and a candidate for World Expo 2015.
I haven’t explained to you the main reason for my stress this week. This is a week which may be the beginning of a worse time—who knows except God?
It has been a week in which I have counted my every minute and every hour. Soon will come that day, the day when I will experience the worst moments of my life. On the other hand it is interesting, and maybe funny, that it is the third of April. This will be the final date of my stay in the refugee center in Milan, and then I will have to find somewhere else to sleep. I am supposed to sleep on the streets? I do not have any means of support or any work to do in my current situation.
These days, when friends write me emails or make me phone calls to ask how I am doing, I am not able to answer them properly. This shows how confused I am these days.
This is not the only negative effect of my current situation. My pen does not move to fill a white page, all the things I was thinking of doing are suspended. My creativity is almost buried under the weight of worry; of thinking about how to live and how to stay alive. Thinking about how to stay alive in Milan is the only thing in my life, therefore I haven’t been able to go to my Italian classes either these days.
I remember a few days ago when I was walking on the streets of Milan and was thinking only of which places I would use as shooting locations for my next short, which I have already written here in Milan. But these days when I pass by these places I am thinking of which ones to use as my real-life dwellings when I am forced into the streets.
Although I have asked the refugee office of the Comune di Milano to give me another place to stay until I get the appropriate documents and permits to remain in Italy, I have received no answer.
I think there will be many more people like in my situation soon, as one of the dormitories in Via Barzaghi was closed down by the authorities on the 31st of March. They reasoned that it was just an emergency dormitory for winter. Many people had to sleep on the streets.
Seeing my own situation and that of other people sometimes pushes me to stand for up them and help their voices reach the authorities and rest of the world.
While there are many big billboards advertising Milano Expo 2015 everywhere in the city, I am encouraged to go to the bottom layer of the city and expose the real face of Milan: the life of the many political refuges and asylum seekers, homeless in this big commercial city of Italy, and forced to sleep on the streets.
What is both sad and funny is that, unbelievingly and unwillingly, I feel regret. Why I am trying to be writer, and why I am writing? Why is everything meaningless here in this city, and why doesn’t the government care about the political refugees? Will anyone hear my voice?
Different questions come to my mind when I look at the hundreds of artistic landmarks in the city: the churches, the private buildings, the museums, the sculptures and many other works of art. I remember reading somewhere that more than fifty percent of the world’s art is located in Italy. This shows that Italy is a country that has grown many arts and artists and that has had a long relationship with the arts.
In a short walk towards the Duomo, I see the street musicians and the street performers, who seemed strange to me when I first saw them. While some of them were truly artists and played or performed very well, I was wondering at how poorly they were treated. Some say it is just a custom to be a street musician, some say it is a normal thing to be a street performer and some say that because they are poor or homeless they have to earn money this way. For me the worst of all was getting glimpses of the life of the old fat man playing accordion, whom I saw almost any time I went towards Castello from Duomo. These days, when my own situation is more uncertain than it was a few months ago, I can understand them more easily. When I see them, I can imagine how difficult life is in Italy for artists, writers, journalists or filmmakers.
The only question that stays with me is: why is Italy, the land famous for arts and artists, not treating them well? But I can’t find the answer by myself.
Anyhow, I look forward to seeing if the Comune di Milano is going to take care of my fellow political refugees and I. If not we will have to show the world THE REAL MILANO EXPO 2008: the true story of the political refuges and immigrants in the bottom layers of Milano.
And through this MILANO EXPO we will thank the Comune di Milano for its hospitality for the political refugees in this city.