With what little money he had (money he hadn’t already spent on lawyers trying to plead his case for asylum) Amir had decided he would buy me a present for my birthday this year. He gave me a small parcel which contained a bottle of perfume.
‘You really shouldn’t have’.
We met up another time in the city. I said I was going to a protest and he was happy to simply tag along. At first he seemed out of place but he soon got into it, shaking his head and getting upset at what our government was supporting in the Middle East and in Gaza. ‘How can they do this to the people?’ he said, shaking his head solemnly.
The same question terrifies me presently. Every single person I’ve spoken to in the last few weeks, appears to be in a catatonic state of shock at the actions of this government. It is no longer a joke, something to make a mockery of, something to awkwardly bemoan and bitch about. It has become the terrifying realisation that our lives – every single element of our lives – has been and will be affected by these heinous policies and actions. Worst of all, they’ve stopped trying to hide it or sugarcoat it for the public. There’s no one left to woo and win over. There’s no one left to battle. They act with sheer, sickening impunity.
After the protest, Amir and I had lunch in a Japanese restaurant. The concept of ordering from the table on a computer was a novelty for him. He didn’t want to talk about his case with the government. It upset him too much. Instead we spoke about love and how he wants to meet a nice girl. ‘A nice girl like you!’
I sighed and tried my best to explain the concept of a spinster who lives alone forever. He said ‘someone has hurt you’ and it was the truest thing anyone has ever said. ‘You have to let that go’, he said earnestly.
I am trying to, is what I didn’t say.
Amir also told me that day that my brother Matthew was the best guy had ever known and he wished he could be more like him.
I went to the bathroom and upon returning, I realised Amir had already paid for me. He refused my money. I told him I would pay next time and he laughed and said ‘yeah yeah I will pay then too!’
Amir loves this country and its people. But coming here to seek asylum was the single worst decision of his life because of what the government has put him through.
After the church ceremony at my brother’s wedding a few months ago, he came over to me. Still clutching my bouquet of roses, having just walked down the aisle for my new sister-in-law, he told me how his heart stopped when he saw me like that.
Today my heart stopped at the news that they have taken him back to detention. That the kind young man who welcomed us into his home, fed us and laughed with us, will sleep in a foreign place, with nothing to cradle him but uncertainty and fear.
‘Indefinite detention’ are the words I heard someone say today. I don’t understand what this is. How do you sentence an innocent person to life in prison for trying to seek refuge in our country?
The lawyer wrote to us in an email:
‘This is such an unexpected and distressing development.’
‘It sounds to me that the immigration officer had already decided to detain Amir before he even arrived. What cowards.’
What cowards indeed.
Amir had told me in this interview that if they try to send him back, he’d take his own life.
Any support you can lend to us during this time would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for the kind words to date. We are still trying to figure out what to do next. But so far we are deflated and desperately trying to keep that hope alive.