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He steps out timidly from the oppressive, metallic cage of a dubious but innovative elevator. In his rigid hand the passport suffers sustained agony; those steadfast, stubborn fingers will never loose the important document, ridiculously entombed, its suppressed jacket blemished by constant secretions of a perspiring fist. His composure is grave, stiff, his clothes suffocate him, they subjugate him with an intense, awkward smothering. He tries to avoid corruption of the mind and body by observing the room. Here, on the ground level, the world opens up to him. A beehive of people engulfs his range of vision: white, black, yellow and brown flesh swarms the environment; it’s a polychromatic fest of human skin, garments and words. This hectic commotion overwhelms him and suddenly he feels the need to rest. He finds his way in the labyrinth of line-ups and suitcases until he reaches a secluded bench situated in a grim corner, next to a panoramic window. The noise is sedated here, it only tickles the ears like a lovely pulsation. He sits down and ruminates. In his hand, the passport had already become a jumble of wet, dirtied papers. He stretches out and sighs with pleasure, releasing the tension in his bones and soon, the aggressive turkey is converted into a mild hen. His eyes are weary, worn down by the long, tedious yet exciting flight. He looks out the window and experiences a swift inner tremor, like when the first snowflake caresses your rosy, warm cheeks in winter, or when a placid, alluring rose viciously pricks your finger. Beyond the scratched curtain of glass, an unfamiliar scenery rises. There, in the distance, mighty mountains have been replaced with glittering skyscrapers, and lively trees with encumbered wire-poles; green plateaus loaded with earthly fruits have been buried beneath layers of cold, filthy pavement. Out there, the forest is made from colourful, electrical, illuminating billboards, multitudes of cars and street peddlers. He is mesmerized. He turns his eyes from the dynamic zoo which in a few moments will become his new haven. He lowers his head and succumbs under the spell of reminiscence: images, places and names from the past mingle in his mind with an arduous, blind craving, trying to escape the dark embezzlements of the slow-coming, decaying obliviousness. He remembers…

Under a silver sky burdened with restless, dull and ironed clouds, a mountain man with a determined mind approaches the sheepfold. It’s the break of day and the celestial orb is hidden behind grey curtains of mist. It rains. Everything is still, everything is yet asleep. There is an admonitory tone in the air, but everything is funereal. Hazy miasmas enfold the small cabin, placed on a hill, beneath barricades of silver stone and the rock, mutilated by the stream of time, gives out a sombre, painful impression; a most solitary pedestal surrounded by a mystifying, unsettling, wild landscape, it rises and endures like a Violet flower amid the carbonized remains of a forest, like an island encircled by furious waters, like the crucified Christ on Golgotha. The silver rock belongs to a breathtaking circus of petrified wonders, a fusion of grey crescendos and mistiness that blend together in mute agreement to form a picturesque altar of the gods, a consolidated stronghold with prominent, cloudy crests that barely stroke the canopy of heaven. The mountain man watches all of this in silence, like a nostalgic poet, like a painter preparing his canvas for an imposing, immortal piece. When melancholy fades away the mountain man pushes the wooden gate aside and enters the sheepfold. And so it begins. From the sheepfold, the mountain man grabs with his strong hands an ivory ball of wool, a lamb, and removes it with care as the poor thing begins to struggle fiercely, trying to escape the repulsive, unexpected touch of alien fragrance. It cries, releasing desperate calls for protection, for familial affection, for gentleness but the rest of the flock listens placidly and the little lamb, innocent as the fly caught in a spider’s web becomes conscious of the cruel realities of the world. It cries again when the mountain man pushes the blade in its throat, cutting the precious string of life with a brutal, methodical jerk, spilling the crimson nectar, desecrating the nearby ground with foul odours of carnage. It doesn’t cry when the mountain man opens up its chest and with his strong, proficient hands, like a skilful surgeon, he selects, cuts, preserves and disposes of lifeless organs and inert body parts. It still doesn’t cry when the remaining of its body is skinned of its blood-spattered wool and the carcass is discarded. Only in the end, when the formal procedure is finished and nothing is left from the gruesome ritual, the mountain man sheds a few but real tears. Tears of joy, tears of yearning, tears of gratitude, tears of sorrow…

He stands up and makes his way towards the Customs offices. He mingles with the others like a sheep that had just found its long-forsaken flock. He waits patiently in line. When he encounters the Customs officer he offers his crumbled passport with a shaky hand. The officer takes it confidently and smiles, which fills him with new yet short-lived sentiments of self-assurance. A trace of anxiety gnaws at his chest like a parasitic worm. The officer scribbles in his passport mysterious, hieroglyphic words, which loose their meaning in the turbulent sea of despair. Eventually, the officer gives back his passport, asks him to sign in a few places and, with the same gentle smile tells him three magical words that embrace his body and soul with a soothing veil of kindliness and hope: “Welcome to Canada.” He then passes through a blue hallway, crossing the invisible borders of this world and outside the airport, into the new cosmos, into the new destiny which awaits him, hesitantly, he relinquishes his blood, his skin, his past, his miseries, his regrets. His identity remains with him, his only companion and friend at the beginning of a new beginning…

Colin Rusneac - Cambridge    9/27/2005


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