Since he started his chemo treatment, Nim started to act very unlike him. He locked himself in the house most of the time ignoring calls and visits, reading and browsing on the Internet. We still kept an eye on him, since he had become way too sick to do his own housework and Anaïs took over, but sometimes he would not even let her in. And she told Mona one day that he was involved in some type of support activities for refugees. And we were like:
The apartment complex two streets down from his house started to host refugees about eight –nine years ago, since the Bosnia conflict. And after that, it was the Liberians and in the last years the Burmese. And I have to say they made quite a colorful patch, if you consider that this is a suburban area where most people consider themselves Irish or Polish just because their grand-grandfathers came here from the old Continent looking for jobs during the booming years of the steel industry. But Nim never seemed to notice them, not until now. And I still think can not get myself to think in better terms about him. I worry about Anaïs, lately they became very close and she smiles less often.
Yesterday, though, I had to go in her place to drop his groceries and some stuff Mona sent to him and I noticed from the moment I entered the twilight quality of silence that took over his house. He was in bed so I had to put the groceries away, not that I did mind…but when I was almost getting ready to leave I noticed this, on a paper tossed on the corner of the counter:
“When you feel that
you hurt in a realmdom of pain
They learn under an asbestos roof
In the sweltering heat.(1)
In the sweltering heat:
an old temple, the alphabet , a teacher
all these orphans had left.
All these orphans have left:
education and music, one Bengal gram
for refugee camp inmates
the tang of fresh cinnamon flow over the sea
by Trincomalee. “
Note: (1) the whole story here