Another set of push-ups. I finish the last rep and then stretch my chest, breath deeply and try to think about anything other than the transactions occurring around me. I towel off a bit and sink in to my corner. It’s only 19:00 and the room is wide awake tonight. My eyes move, as if on their own, ignoring the pleas for mercy coming from my mind and I’m forced to take it all in.
Sitting across the 15 tatami mat room in the opposite corner “China” (everyone just calls each other by what countries they’re from, except for me. For some reason everyone knows my name) sits Indian style, legs crossed and his two omnipresent features dominate: an intensive scowl and a losing hand of solitaire. He scowls and turns over a card, one he didn’t want and I open a bottle of water.
I open a bottle of water and, on another corner “Bangladesh” reclines on his futon in a black t-shirt and a disconcerting pair of boxer shorts with a strawberry pattern emblazoned across them. He casually flips through a tattered porno magazine while he carries on a conversation with “John-Joe Philippines”, they have had this conversation before. They have his conversation basically every night.
“Why they don’t take me to the surgelee?” John-Joe Philippines asks from across the room, also reclining, a hand down his shorts. His high pitched, whinny voice piercing like a scalpel easily making blocking tonight’s transaction out a total impossibility.
He lifts his arms up in the air for emphasis as he continues- the T.V. blaring in the background.
“I have a sick. My stoomak is sick. Seven times I see doctor. They put me to in the tube and check my body. Camera to my nose. Why … Why they don’t give me sur-ge-lee?” His arms drop defeated, exasperated to his sides.
John-Joe Philippines has a problem with barfing. Likely due to stress, he pukes a lot and in fact just the day before he let it all go on the floor of visiting room 21.
Everyone had made a mental note to not have a visitor in that particular room.
Over seven trips to the doctors he had been given six different apocalyptic diagnosis and had spent three weeks in quarantine given nothing but six bottles of Pocari Sweat per day.
Pocari Sweat, the Japanese drink of champions!
He was on this corporate approved diet until the final crack medical expert revealed that in fact, nothing is wrong with him. “He’s just stressed out.”
“This is … velee, velee serious.” Bangladesh says as he slowly turns another worn crusty page in the porn mag. He is in detention because to earn a little extra money he got a part-time job, at a supermarket, and this was a “grave violation” of the conditions of his working VISA which stipulates that he can only work as an IT Network Engineer. His Masters Degree does not go well with his current situation. Every time he speaks it’s as if he’s doing Shakespeare; all pomp and circumstance.
“You are gravely … ill.” Bangladeshi raises a thin, brown and bony hand in an elegant manner for emphasis and continues. “Why have they not yet … treated you medically? This .. is a clime!” And with that his hand flicks and he extends a long index finger into the air for effect, then loudly re-iterates “A clime!”
John-Joe Philippines makes a whiny/moaning noise, scratches his balls and repeats. “Yes, is clime right? Why they don’ help my sick? Yesterday I blow in the visit room. I blow, all food to the floor.”
He makes dramatic gestures to the illustrate the trajectory his vomit took as it erupted from his mouth yesterday. On the T.V. some Japanese celebrity I don’t know slurps up some noddle (maybe) based dish I can’t recognize and after a few moments, a moronic look plastered to her face as if she can’t understand the signals her tongue is sending her, and incredibly disingenuous smile spreads across her mug and she squeels “Ooo-iii-shiii” (Eng:Saying “Yummy” like a 4-year-old) I nearly take a note from John-Joe Philippines play book but yank my attention away from the T.V. before I projectile vomit geysers of hate and homicidal disgust all over the ceiling mounted flat screen.
“You are gravely ill my friend … gravely” Bangladesh continues as he picks up the magazine and turns it 45 degrees to better inspect a particular spread.
I am listening to a conversation by a Bangladeshi version of Winston S. Churchill and a bratty ten year old. Reality, has been suspended.
“It is my Pancreas. My Pancreas is sick. I need a surgerre!” He says this while opening a snickers bar with his teeth and free hand, the one not on his balls.
Bangladesh points at him again.
“It is likely some aggressive form of … cancer. Yes. Very grave.”
“I need a surgelee…”
“You have cancer my sick friend.”
“Why the immigration … no … surgellee?”
~mouthful of snickers~
“You could be dead tomorrow. Very grave.” says Bangladesh while reaching for a different, equally used porno in his towering stack.
I lay down and close my eyes and hope that I will not remember these nightly conversations although I’m sure I will.
Another celebrity on TV, whose gender escapes me, squeals and squirms because what? that piece of dried fish is that good; I grind my teeth. Bangladesh speaks now to no one.
“Cancer. Very grave”
Dennis Philippines pops his head up and out from under blanket, looks around and just as quickly retracts it back inside. Vietnam giggles at something in a Vietnamese magazine and I breath deeply.
I think about getting out. I think about a picnic. Wine and cheese at a picnic. Holding hands with my son. Running, running then working out. I want to kick box. I want to be outside. Streets. Open streets in Tokyo
Hopefully Yosomono has typed this up, thanks by the way. [Yosomono says: No problem] And thanks to everyone else who is showing support. Thank you.
On Wednesday Sept 21st I have my last interview with the immigration overlords and then they will release their decree on whether I can stay or go.
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