Find Me, Follow Me

Thea Costantino


Bad sleep. Flaccid pillow and air conditioning are intolerable. Window won’t open. I walk semi naked across the suite before noticing the window cleaner hoisted outside. I don’t know if he saw.

Two days and I haven’t ventured outside this enclosed village: restaurants, shops, gymnasium, implausible politeness. Only in the transition from airport to taxi, taxi to hotel, have I breathed the air of this city. Dry.

It was a mistake to come, so soon anyway. The location was too tempting. Six floors above the old Home, I watch miniature office workers ignore the plaque commemorating God’s Little Ones.  At night its interior glows yellow through dimpled glass.

I’m not ready, despite my preparations.  I’ve absorbed a list of dates, places, I’ve seen the records, the photographs. The distance between individual lives and the seismic convulsions of nations and blood is unfathomable. I attempt to envisage the continuum linking the invaders and their flabby, amnesiac progeny.

I’ve been tempted by the convenience of an origins myth, which in reality tells me little about the woman and the boy she raised. More vivid is the compilation of anecdotes. She told him that she tried to abort him; this failed attempt, the earliest evidence of R’s obstinacy. The harder she beat him, the stonier he grew. His deep set, lapis eyes: apparently he almost lost one once, an event, if my mother is to be believed, at the root of his aversion to dark skinned people. I discovered a photo of his paternal great-great-great grandmother, an Irish farmer with those same hard eyes, squinting at the foreign sky. Searching the internet one night I learned that R’s father had died.  The tears were real, wet and rolling, but probably a symptom of the whiskey. Still, I was relieved to produce some solid evidence of feeling.


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