Monday, 9 November 2015

On an asylum seeker's budget, part II: Meet Luke (warning to sensitive readers)

Day five, I was very sad and tired because I left work late day four and consequently started cooking dinner so late that I had to go to bed instead of eating it. At the library at Sergels torg, I find a barrel where one can exchange books for free (and does not need a library card, which in turn requires a social security number). Good to know, but the information sign is written only in Swedish.

Suddenly, a friend invites me for a risotto dinner her father had cooked (contents: an entire bottle of Riesling, trumpet chanterelles, parmesan cheese!), and to smell perfumes. Lovely, except I indeed was not my best self, hunger does that to you. Nor is it very likely that I as a refugee will get invited to dinners a lot.

Day six, me and a friend literally got out through the front door carrying a book shelf I had gotten for free when a guy passed buy and asked if we needed any help. He - we can call him Luke - was a refugee. He had to leave his own house very sudden; the police had come and held a gun to his head at night, giving him little time to pack his things. He made it to Sweden and almost got a job, but is missing a Swedish id and the police still has his passport, because he got to stay at the house of a kind person, except that the house was co-owned by another person who did not want him there and had called the cops. When released, he took the train to nowhere. "Can't you go to your embassy?" my friend asks. Luke shakes his head. "I don't want my country to know I am here". Nor does he want to contact his relatives in order to protect them. It is especially not easy to find a place to stay for a young guy, as families with children are prioritised in the refugee program. And everybody communicates with a phone - Luke just happens to have an unusual charger that got stolen when he lended it out, so that shuts him out from the Swedish society even more.

While telling his story, he carried the shelf all the way to the subway and asked what I was about to do next. "I was about to say - get some sleep, as I have a long day tomorrow, but it is nothing compared to you. I have never had a gun pointend to my head", I replied. He almost smiled back. "Oh but it is ok." And waved with his hands and feet. "I still have all my fingers and all my toes [intact]."

(Still day six: at the subway entrance, a hipster guy in a rush stopped out of fascination for the beauty of the wood of the shelf, visible to the naked eye as the first layer of paint was so thin (come on!). He asked how much I wanted for it! I chose not to negotiate.)

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