World Refugee Day, 20 June 2019

The Pyrenees, February 1939

They were crossing the border by the thousands, men, women, children, an endless stream shuffling forwards, their feet so tired they could hardly lift them, but they had to go on, no time to stop, and if you did the person behind you would bump up against you, so you stumbled upon the person in front of you and propelled him forwards, go, go, go, the dust on the ground mustn’t have time to settle, they had to get out of there before death caught up with them, either in the form of gangrene or starvation or dressed in the uniform of a Fascist. Women carried babies in their arms and what they had left of their belongings they carried on their heads, some undergarments, their wedding picture, the lace christening gown that had been in the family since god knows when and was supposed to be worn by the children to come but would more likely be used as a shroud, all bundled up, trundled along. Older children carried their younger siblings or held their hands, muttering to shut up, that everyone was hungry, that they weren’t there yet and still had to keep on going, that, no, they couldn’t have any water, that they’d just had a sip and now had to wait and how could they be so heavy if they hadn’t eaten for days and their bones by now must be hollow, their skin taut, the stretch gone out of it. Doorgaan met het lezen van “World Refugee Day, 20 June 2019”

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