Not For Want Of Trying
by Matthew Gibson
THE Speaker. He would have to remember that.
“You need to study harder,” said the tutor.
I will, promised Taimur. But it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t instinctive.
When the militia arrived at his village, their truck a satanic porcupine of weaponry, empty eyes spelling out their intentions as solemnly as a wedding vow, then it had been instinctive.
When his bus was stopped at the border, when every third passenger was taken out at gunpoint, he had known to keep his head bowed.
When he arrived at the coast, the sea-salt overwhelming, the waves unfamiliar, he had no doubt about his destination.
When the boat foundered, he knew to cling to the driftwood, knew to kick grasping hands away as their owners drowned around him.
When coastguard backs were turned, he leapt from the holding pen.
Waiting at the roadside for the one truck in 1000 to offer him a lift.
Picking out others like himself, following them to the camp at the edge of the sea.
Fashioning shelter from crates and sheets of corrugated iron. Knowing to study the lorries as they pulled in and out, waiting in line to cross the water.
Instinct when his time arrived, jumping aboard, curled between frozen boxes of shellfish.
Instinct to ignore the cold, to stay hidden, half breathing, half dead, as the ferry swayed gently and passengers laughed high above.
Sitting warm in the classroom, the air stale and safe, he had no idea how he had managed the journey.
Sitting warm in the classroom, he had no idea of the official title of the House of Commons’ chair.
“You need to study harder,” said the tutor. “You need to put in some effort.”
“Do you want to be in this country or not?”