Monthly Archives: March 2007

she just collapsed

‘I tried to go to England but eventually I gave up. The visa process was humiliating. They wanted so much information – what I earn, what my daughter was earning… They even asked me if my daughter was earning enough to support me. Imagine! Maybe in England that is how things work, but an Angolan man would never expect his daughter to pay for him. So in the end we didn’t go. The process was entirely insulting. And the idea that I’d want to go and live in that place which has no sun, and where people don’t have enough time to sit down and talk at lunch… Why would I want to stay there? But that’s what they thought. That’s what the embassy staff were thinking: that I wanted to go and live in their country. Honestly. My passport is full of visa stamps. I’ve been all over the world. But I have no intention of living anywhere apart from Angola…’

‘She just collapsed. She’d been waiting for her passport to be sorted out. I’d seen her the day before when she was queueing like the rest of us; when it came to her name being called out, they said she should come back tomorrow because her passport would be ready then. So she was there again today. I saw her in the queue again. We were all waiting together. We’d been there since six this morning. You have to put your name on the list and wait to be called out. And when they call out your name they either give you your passport or they tell you that your process isn’t ready yet. And eventually it came to her turn. The man with the list called out her name. She put her hand up and walked over to him. I saw him shaking his head – ‘your passport isn’t ready yet madam, come back tomorrow’ – and she fell to the floor. She was about 42 years old. People rushed to help her. They picked her up and took her to a bench to lie her down. It was the stress. She couldn’t take it any more. All the bureaucracy. All the waiting. The uncertainty.’
‘So did they fast-track her passport, to help her, to make her better?’
‘No! Of course not. She’ll have to go back tomorrow. But you see, the point is that you mustn’t get angry. You must stay calm. Your whole family is depending on you – your mother, your father, your children, your wife. If you get really angry, look what happens. Your heart can’t cope and you collapse. That doesn’t help anyone.’

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