Academic journal article Field

A Country of Strangers

Academic journal article Field

A Country of Strangers

Article excerpt

"It was a place I never heard of," a woman said, "though I studied geopolitics in college and worked as a secretary for an embassy. I googled it, no hits. Nothing on the library shelves. Yet I kept overhearing its name, outside the clinic or in the church basement. A voice would say, T have family there. There was a coup. The suffering is indescribable. The famine. The corruption. Useless to send help. My cousin never writes.'"

The speaker was my age, a red vein in the fleshy part of her nose, proud in her carriage. She addressed a friend who seemed completely uninterested, absently checking her I.D.

I was just an eavesdropper, heading north myself, in the crowd outside the departure platform. I wanted to interrupt, "that nation is Sheol, the limousines and shanties, padlocked granaries and empty fields, live wires strung in the rain. Of course your relatives won't return."

But our line was starting to move. Sleepily the travelers gathered their suitcases tied with twine, their sacks made of canvas sewn shut, their boxes-some contained animals whose eyes you saw glinting, whose pulse you sensed, though they were silent, patently willing themselves to be silent. …

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