Failte isteach, Push
She looks at the signs on the door understanding one and wondering what the other one is saying to her. She pushes the heavy door with all her might and she is in .
In where exactly she is not to sure, Everyone told her she was going to her new home. The immigration people kept passing the word around their mouths as if it was a vile place to be “home”. It took them hours upon hours to decide what “home” she was to be sent to. In her mind home conjured up another world completely different to this. Her home was a peaceful quiet place filled with welcoming aromas but this place sounded, looked and smelled so different to any home she had ever been in.
The wind whistled around her as she entered the open space carrying with it the sounds of traffic and leaves in to this place called home. Sounds carried down the hall towards her muted sounds from behind closed doors which spoke of people’s lives. Lives she couldn’t but imagine they lived in this home. Adult voices, low but harsh, weeping, children’s voices reciting what she thought were rhymes and the low drown of music emitted from different places. All these were the sounds that welcomed her to this place called “Home”
Smells were carried back to her as the breeze catapulted back down the hall. Strange food smells mixed with human smells covered or half covered over with clinical cleaning smells. Nothing could mask this mixture of smells that filled her nostrils . Her nose was used to smells back where she came from. These smells in this place called home offended her nose and made her stomach churn in disgust.
She stood hesitating and reluctant for some unknown reason to disturb the man behind the counter area with the words Reception written over it in big bold black capital italics . Now she wondered what kind of home has a reception desk ? Home that is her home in her Mother land had a foyer where visitors came to be received by the family but they didn’t stay there long as Mother’s cooking enticed them to venture further down the hall to the kitchen calling out as they ventured in to the heart of the house. The kitchen which was a hive of activity and welcome.
Nothing to her was very welcoming here. The man behind the reception desk reluctantly pulled his eyes from the news paper that was spread over the desk area. Upside down she could make put a hideous picture of a naked woman, posing uncomfortably for the camera with a false smile on her over made up face.
His eyes travelled up and down Sade twice before he even attempted to speak. Like everyone else before him, he was astonished at her regal height. In her bare feet she towered well over a lot of men and it wasn’t hard to tower over this chubby little man who wore a badly fitting white stained shirt. The remnants of his previous meal could be clearly seen sitting on his pouch that passed for a human stomach.
They gazed at each other and she just couldn’t imagine in her wildest dreams what the little man was thinking. In fact she would have been so shocked if she could have read his mind. Sean’s mind was a cess pit of racism. He had only gotten the job here because his brother was a TD up in the Dail. The family was proud of the brother in Dublin but never knew what to do with Sean as he was rough around the edges.
Sean’s mind was roaming as his eyes were roaming also over Sade. Here was another one who would eventually need more money to survive and he could use her for his side line business. A seedy business well hidden from prying eyes of government inspectors. The inspectors who he knew were coming days before hand having gotten a tip-off from cronies in the other DP centers. The place was gleaming and sparkling when they venture down here, no worries for anyone. They residents were kept on a tight leash of 19.40 euro a week and time tables which had to be adhered to.
Sades eyes took in the unwelcoming grim smirk on the mans face, a face she would come to loath and dread over time. Her parents had abolished the word hate from her dictionary as a child so it wasn’t a word that came to her mind easily. She saw he was neither tall nor slim but heavy and squat, neither clean or proud but dirty and dishevelled.
He grunted a few words and rattled keys on a board behind him. Coming out from behind the reception desk he signaled to Sade that she was to follow him down the hall way. She followed him fearfully. Afraid of the unknown despite what she had already suffered on the journey to Ireland from Africa. A journey which it would take years for her to ever speak about to anyone . But unknown to Sade the abuse that was about to start in this place called “HOME” would give her the courage to stand on platforms and speak out against the system of Direct Provision which was built out of greed by a government that wanted to be seen doing good from the outside. The World Leaders saw only what the Irish government required them to see.
The man who demanded that everyone knew he was in charge eventually stopped at a door with number 300 on it. What sort of home has numbers on the door ? Sounds came from behind the door but yet without even knocking he threw open the door and said to Sade ” This is your room “. Without even a back ward glance he swaggered or swayed down the hall back towards his perch at the door surveying all his world. The world of the reception area where he tormented those coming and going. Tormenting the residents of this “HOME” with trivial matters. Tormenting was his daily enjoyment.
Sade stood in the door way of the room that was to become her home for 9 years. If she had known this then it would have broken her strong spirit, She took in the picture of a dishevelled place that someone had tried to make pretty and tidy but neither worked out very well. The room was already occupied by 3 other ladies of various origin and race. One shouted at her to close the door or they would lose their privacy, another lady laughed and questioned what privacy ? Sade greeted the ladies and was shown her bed which had a narrow wardrobe and locker beside it. Her belongings would fit as she didn’t carry much but needed to acquire heaver clothes for the coming winter. She couldn’t see cooking facilities and was informed that there was a canteen where meals inedible at times were given at stipulated times. The bathroom was small and smelled of over use, never intended for communal use. But she was told by Helen that they were lucky as others had to go and use a bathroom that allocated to a lot of rooms. Parents had to escort children to his bathroom as strangers used it not just their immediate family. Safety was not high on the list of priorities here in this place called ” HOME”
HOME should be a welcome haven from the world outside but this place that was called “HOME” was the total opposite. There was no escaping the stark reality of being in a system for which you were ment to be grateful for everything. Grateful for a system that would try to break a persons spirit. Sade and many like her would stay in this system supported through it by various groups and passionate people who want to get DP abolished . DP can not be fixed as its beyond repair. You can’t fix a horses leg so it gets shot, like wise no committee can fix the ailing system of DP it just needs to be shot and all the building leveled so that they can’t be used to make people suffer while lining the pockets of greedy heartless people.
Sade and other residents will rise out of the rotten debris of DP like the PHOENIX to life a normal life. But whats considered normal after that system ?
Direct Provision is a mystery which has to be uncovered and opened up to the world. It has to be abolished not fixed.