from '261 days before'
261 days before
There’s a film crew
in the building today
shoving cameras in out faces.
We are asked by translators
if we want to give statements.
These arseholes come every few weeks,
a young Somali man called Bashir moans.
different TV stations,
saying the same thing.
‘We want to inform the people, so you can get help.’
Baba, how can you write your articles?
Aren’t you afraid?
You have to live fearlessly, Sammy.
Use your voice to tell the truth.
You cannot live your life being afraid.
I cover my face with a scarf.
I can speak English, I say.
Get him miked! Shouts a tall white man.
Another white man,
shorter and rounder than the one giving orders,
clips a microphone to my T-shirt
and shines a bright light on my face.
How long have you been here?
the interviewer asks.
Almost two weeks, I reply.
What has your experience been so far?
In what way terrible? Can you explain?
I quickly try and collect my thoughts
and remain calm at the same time.
My throat feels dry
and sweat trickles down my temples.
I’ve seen so much death.
I’ve nearly starved to death.
It’s not safe on the streets here.
We are beaten daily.
What country are you from?
I don’t want to say which country because I fear for my family who remain.
Is that why you left?
Yes. My father was murdered.
There’s forced conscription.
Is there a particular country you’re aiming for?
Why the UK?
I have family there.
I hear it’s safe.
Land of the free.
The man looks at me
like he knows something
What are the conditions like here?
It’s overcrowded as you can see.
It’s not safe. Especially for women.
There’s also disease.
I want to leave.
Why don’t you?
I’m scared to leave,
But I’m also scared to stay.
© Manjeet Mann from The Crossing, Penguin Random House