Almost seven months ago I arrived here in Prilep, Macedonia to begin my project as volunteer.
“Why did you choose to come here?” How many times I heard this question and I saw the disbelief and some sarcasm into the eyes of those ones were asking me. Well my darlings, the truth is that I thought for months before applying for this project. The reason because I chose just this project is really simply. I wanted to let my comfort zone! Well because I believe we are too much used to fill our mouths with a lot of speeches but at the end we live just in according our European lifestyle. We don’t know borders, we can easily take last minute flight and make a surprise to our partner by taking him/her away in a romantic weekend in Paris. We can take the ticket for the gig of that singer who never will come in Italy and to go in Glasgow without any troubles by surprising a friend.
In a period where in my country my fellow countrymen showed supporting and trust to a Government willing to close our borders and avoid poor people to come in our country and to make immigrant’s lives even harder, I wanted to experience what it means to be that immigrant. I wanted to try to be foreigner in a land so different from mine, what it means to drown in the desperate attempt to understand a language which sounds so far from mine. Well, my experiment worked just in part. Even if I get a really little pocket money every month which it isn’t enough neither to survive mostly, I am Italian. Normally people starts smiling to me when they discover from where I come from. Italy! Good food, amazing landscape, beautiful life. They are biased thoughts of course but good for me when they push someone to make a little discount or to gift me a magnet to show Italians how big is the heart of Macedonian people. Anyway it is definitely not the same kind of welcome we offer to immigrants trying to reach Italy. Nonetheless the experiment worked perfectly about borders’ working.
I experienced borders often since I arrived here. I traveled from Macedonia to Europe, from Macedonia to the others Balkan countries. I was really impressed from the borders’ crossing. I was touched from the line of people who were forced to get down from the bus and show in front of the check point with their documents even if it was night, even if it was minus 15 degree, even if they were too old or too young for that. I was been upset from the corruption which reigns supreme there and which is structured in different layers.
The lowest and more innocent one is the habit to put some Coca Cola on the desk of controllers and few euro in the passport. Between the most refined ones which struck me there is the case of the driver of a van who was able to across all the Balkans and to reach Germany without passport, by corrupting each border’s check point. Especially I was struck from the atmosphere in border’s areas: the unknown waiting timing, the suspicious look of policeman inspecting so serious every face without saying nothing, the bus’s doors which are kept open as long as the whole procedure lasts. In every crossing someone was suspicious and worthy of being questioned without reasonable explanation. Honestly I thought it was just a strategy to collect more cokes for the night! Nonetheless the best about borders is going to come. My project here is finishing. In eleven days I need to leave necessarily the country ’cause my visa is expiring. Moreover I can’t come back here for three months. It is the law. All right. Well just you know in the meantime the case has occurred that I fell in love with Viktor. Viktor comes from Prilep, he’s Macedonian. We are together since six months. Before meeting me he had decided to go to work in Germany and he did it. He spent three months there and I went twice to visit him. When he came back he explained to me that he must to stay for three months still in his country. He has no right to leave Macedonia and to travel in Europe.
It means I will leave the country in eleven days without the chance to take him with me. I’d love to show him the amazing places I know, to make him try my mother’s dishes, to introduce him to my friends as he did with me. He’d love as well but we can’t. We are forced to stay distant one month again. A lot of Italian friends told me: “Yea but after that he can come in Italy and find a job there”. Buddies, I will try to explain the situation. Viktor can come in Italy and he can stay for three months. After that he must come back in his country ad stay stuck there for the next three months. Unless he will be able to catch a job in Italy by signing up a long-term working contract (minimum one year) which it is a so much easy happening in Italy! In fact it is for this reason that hundreds of thousands Italian young people willing adventures are leaving the country. There is just one only solution to keep staying together and avoid to be separated every three months: marriage. Well, after first amused reaction, after laughter and disbelief of hearing something absurd like that Viktor was making me notice it, we thought about it seriously. I can’t still believe it but we did, we spoke about marriage. Nonetheless no one of us has never felt the need to get married eventually in his lifetime. So we should something like that just because we are forced by the system? In these days we are experiencing plenty of feelings. Our mood is attacked every day from different thoughts, feelings, fears. Before some days I bought my return ticket and the sadness became pain dragging me away. I wrote a message to Viktor who had called me by finding me lost in my thoughts.
“If I imagine that moment, when your so sweet smile will be pushed down from the mobile stairway which will take me upstairs, til the security check’s hall. If I imagine that moment when your eyes will keep looking mine and smiling further and further til it will disappear. If I imagine that moment when I will be forced to hug you for the last time, to kiss you for the last time, to smell you for the last time before taking to the entrance and let employed check my passport and the code of my ticket. If I imagine the moment when you will be forced to hug me for the last time, to kiss me for the last time, to smell me for the last time. If I imagine the moment when I will caress your hair for the last time, or that instant when my glasses will hit your forehead for the last time, or when I will pass my finger on your scar for the last time before walking toward that fucking check point. If I imagine the moment of our detachment Amore mio, I can just realize that I can’t imagine it. That’s all. I love you.”
Well, I didn’t share it with you to disclose the new Romeo and Juliet of Thirty Century but to reflect together on this:
who They are to make this?
who They are to doom us to unhappiness?
who They are to believe to have the right to make our lives harder?
I really believe they are no one and haven’t any right to shape our lives like that, to close the borders and establish who is getting in and who is getting out, to close the ports to prevent the landing of immigrants by sea, to put black stamp on our passports, to keep separate people loving each other or even just to don’t let people be free to travel and discover the world as much and how they want!
I’m not still came back Italy but I’m already thinking to leave again my country.
I don’t want to be an accomplice of this kind of society categorizing human being.
The Universal Declaration of human rights says in its first article: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
As you can see, bullshit!
We are not neither free neither equal.
Don’t worry, just let’s be aware and keep struggling to go forward and to achieve a real equality because our homeland is the whole world!
Written by: Vanessa TORCASSO