The darkness at the end of the tunnel

The line is serpentine. Long and winding. Young and Old. Baking in the cruel sunshine of May. This line rests uneasily on the sides of the concrete whitewashed walls which radiate even more heat. There is no shade to be seen for miles. No water except that which streams down profusely as salty sweat. No respite. No Umbrellas to keep at bay cruel Sol’s infatuation with causing heat strokes. No mobile umbilical cords to family, friends and civilization. Water, Umbrellas and Mobile phones are threats to security, they say. There is frustration in the line. Some Anger. Some desperation. And a lot of resigned acceptance. The end of the line offers succour for some, career threatening disappointment for most, the promise of being united with loved ones for some, the crushing rejection of a request for education for most. Yet they continue to come.  From all parts. To participate in this very public display of humiliation. File folders transform themselves temporarily into umbrellas.  Somebody has a packet of biscuits as insurance against the fickle nature of appointment times. He is forced to tear it open and eat some to rule out the presence of deadly toxins. Security, they say. Madness, we think (and not dare say if we wish to retain any hope of making it to the end of the line – the white man seated behind double-reinforced bullet proof glass). The elderly struggle to make sense of it all. The heat, the confusion, the noise and finally the accent of the white man who passes judgement from behind the plexi-glass window. Somebody’s anger finally gives way. An old man. He screams – “I dont want your visa. I dont need this humiliation. If you wish to let me enter your country, do so with dignity”. The security guards politely request him to repeat his screams at the white man, and not at powerless minions whose job is to maintain a semblance of a queue made up of overeager citizens, all of whom want to get ahead by pushing others behind. The man does not quieten down. Not until he is close to the white man. Then his voice curiously undergoes a metamorphosis to sound like a squirrel. “Yes sir. I am going to visit my son in Sunnyvale. No sir. I am not planning to work in the USA. Yes sir, I am 65 and retired from work. No sir, I dont know any software programming.” The white man takes his passport and grunts indecipherably over the tinny speakers attached to the plexi-glass. The words dont matter. The passport has been taken. It’s my turn next…