Private and National Matters in Public

Lucinda Palme

Private and National Matters in Public

Spring has sprung gloriously albeit belatedly.

Valle Elamson has had gathered sartorial outfits befitting seasons. He chooses an attire harmonious to his activity and the weather.

Attired in his 3-piece spring suit, he has reached Götaplatsen the cultural epicentre of Gothenburg. He has brought his share of evangelical paraphernalia and joined his colleagues. Their moveable tableau has been erected by Poseidon. They have laid out coffee- and tea-flasks neatly on the foldable table draped in a flowery sheet along with cinnamon buns. The four of them apprised themselves of the weather, how long they would stay, and how they would reach out to the wavering theists, atheists and agnostics, and how they would respond if queries arise for more information and about introductions.

Standing in front of Poseidon, Valle studied the atmosphere.

Gothenburgers are always occupied with one or the other thing unless you gently interrupt it is difficult to elicit a response from the one or the other.

The leftover trees by the Gothenburg City Library have revealed their green-shoots in roaring growth. The carpet of miniature forest on the rooftop of the bus shelther has acquired multifarious colours.

As his eyes drifted to the staircase of the library, on the staircase he noticed a young man without a phone and without anything in ears (headphones or earplugs). A calm poise exuded from him. Abdiesus Kamran has been sitting and watching the world in Götaplatsen pass feeling secure that there was no threat of an attack or explosion.

Valle Elamson has started towards Abdiesus Kamran.

Next to the bus stop nudging the flight of steps towards the library, Unn Edberg has been struggling to stop her four-year-old son from crying. She brought her two children, boy and a girl, in a pram to the kids’ centre at the library. Her son was unable to stay still in the play centre, so she came out with her kids and sat on the lowest step of the staircase leading to the library.

Wedged between the bus stop and flight of stops is the pathway. Passers-by passed by steadily noticing and un-noticing or pretending not-to-notice the mother in distress.

Unn has been doing all she can to convince her son to stay calm but he was berserk and has been behaving unusually out-of-control. Luckily, the daughter dozed off splendidly. She sat helplessly on the staircase and let her son cry, wildly.

Abdiesus Kamran who sat on the wooden chair on the top of staircase noticed the mother and her children. He wanted to reach out to the mother, but refrained himself. He recollected how he made his younger siblings distract from instant sorrows and cries: he would hitch one of them on his shoulders and took them out of their house to the River Hari, or he would take them to the fields or further afield where he could spot sheep and shepherds. If it was his homeland, he would have definitely gone to the mother and did something to stop her son from crying.

Calm and composed, but Abdiesus is a troubled man. His conscience nagged him. For he lied his age to the Swedish authorities but if he would not have lied, he would have to go back to his home country and face a troubled life.  He escaped from that troubled life. Life has presented himself between here and there. He decided not to go there but stay here, but to go there, later. The decision not to go there has been fraught with complications and threats of deportation. As he sat thinking of the mother with two children and the looming certainty and uncertainty of staying in Sweden, Valle Elamson walked up to him and stood beside him. The age of Valle commanded Abdiesus Kamran to stand up. He stood up, slowly, and gently smiled wondering who he could be.

An officer from Swedish Migration Authority?

Valle Elamson said in chaste Gothenburgian Swedish, “Everything fine?” He could make out that the young man can speak some Swedish.

Abdiesus Kamran responded, “I’m good, good weather,” and looked at the sky.

Glorious Spring morning.

“You need some help,” Valle said, and handed him a pamphlet.

Abdiesus collected the pamphlet, and glanced through it without lifting his eyes. Without responding to Valle, Abdiesus turned his head towards the mother of two children who still sat helplessly, and letting her son cry, wildly. And, he turned his head towards Valle, and fixed his eyes into his eyes.

“That’s a private matter,” said Valle turning his head from the mother to Abdiesus.

“Mine is a national matter,” said Abdiesus.

“What’s that?”

“Government wants to send me back to Afghanistan.”

“One minute,” said Valle and inched towards his colleagues standing by Poseidon.

Spring has sprung: sun shone gloriously.

—Lucinda Palme