SAMANTHA'S CHRONICLES

Immigrant cheats death on rough seas but not coronavirus

Catching up with news after hospital trip leads to sobering discovery

In Summary

• If you are having a bad day, spare a thought for the desperate man

Migrants arrive at a naval base after they were rescued by Libyan coastal guards in Tripoli, Libya November 6, 2017
Migrants arrive at a naval base after they were rescued by Libyan coastal guards in Tripoli, Libya November 6, 2017
Image: REUTERS

So I’m back home and not in jail. Whoopee! The doctor made a diagnosis based on nothing but my word. What kind of doctor does that? Later, after my mother gave him my real family history, he remained quiet instead of admitting he was wrong and possibly getting fired.

Which works out well for me because I get to stay out of jail for deliberately harming Chris. The world, including him, will think I have a condition, oromandibular dystonia, characterised by forceful contractions of the jaw — that caused me to bite his penis off. You and I know better.

So, on with the life of the one that got away with it. My mother has filled up my fridge, cooked up enough food to feed an army and left. It’s nice to be on my own for the first time in two weeks. I turn on the TV. It seems while I have been gone, Covid-19, a pandemic caused by a coronavirus (any of the large variety of viruses causing illness, ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases) has been unleashed onto the world. How interesting. Ground zero was Wuhan and since then, it has spread globally. Italy is the hardest hit after Wuhan.

 

If you’re having a bad day, let me give you perspective. There’s a guy who saved up for three years to pay USD900 for his place on a boat that he was told would take him to Italy. He paid the high fare, thinking he would get a good quality boat, but the vessel was not seaworthy and was overloaded. The guy next to him told him he had paid USD700. Another lady USD300. It seems the price depends on how desperate they think you are. The smugglers got them as far as international waters before telling them they were on their own. Two strikes. What else could go wrong? A lot.

The numbers on the boat started dwindling as one by one, the passengers started to die. The guy was seated up top. Initially, he cursed it because when the rain started beating down, they had no cover. Later, though, he felt blessed because the men downstairs kept screaming that they could not breathe. Those that would suffocate were thrown overboard. No ceremony. If you were dead, you were dead. His relief at being up top slowly faded when the waves started getting larger and larger. The boat would flip up and they would hold on for dear life. People puked their guts out as the journey continued. Those less lucky were tossed overboard. No one jumped in to try and rescue them.

After what was singularly the worst experience of his life, they were finally rescued. The ship that came to their aid, looking like the expressway to heaven. How wrong they were. The ship took them to Lampedusa. The island has a temporary immigrant reception centre that cannot hold the number of people arriving to its shores. A large number slept outside under plastic sheeting. With the onset of the winter months, it became unbearable. Had he made a terrible, terrible mistake coming to Italy?

He had his answer two months later. After surviving the seas, the reception centre, winter and job hunting with no papers… After surviving all that, he now lay in hospital infected with Covid-19 that he had picked up in Italy. All those other things could not take him out, but a simple virus was going to. And he had to cross an ocean, cheat death many times only to now stroll into its arms.

Yes, if you are having a bad day, have some perspective.