He scours streets, bus and tube stations for newspapers. Two years
since he arrived in London and he is still amazed at how many
newspapers lie discarded around. Although he cannot decipher the
writing, they are ideal for keeping warm.
He stuffs them inside his pullover and feels like a king: he needs for
nothing. He is warm and fed: the city overflows with leftovers. He
beds down whenever he is tired, wherever he finds a warm doorway from
where he can look at the sky.
He loves summer best. At night, sneaking into Finsbury Park, he heads
for his favourite bench, near the lake. It is cool and the sky is full
of stars. Not as spectacular as the sky in his village, in the
floodplains of the Mesopotamian Iraqi marshes, where the stars shine
like diamonds on black velvet, but it works.
It illuminates the memories that follow him like his shadow: the rice
fields and the boat he made himself from reeds, the water buffalo; his
father, punting through narrow channels. The Garden of Eden.
Then he counts the stars, looks for patterns, for directions; for a
sign that it is safe to return home. His heart, filled with nostalgia,
trembles like a bird. Often though, he counts his blessings: here,
among the floods of people filling the channels of this city, he can
blend in and feel safer than in the marshes of his homeland – till it
is time to return.
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