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We always take water for granted, so much we minimize it and throw it to the ground, do our toilet with it or when having a meal, water is always seen as the lowest ranked beverage. How many times, did I let my shower tap running, how many plastic water bottles have I left unfinished. How many baths have I taken with perfectly potable water when I didn’t really even need to wash myself, just cause I was bored or sad. How many times have I sighed because the only drink that was left in my fridge was fresh filtered water. Water is our gold our most essential element in this world and yet we treat it as if it was nothing. And I get it, how cliché is it to talk again about the importance of water, but we gotta keep on doing it.
Now here I am in sitting on the kitchen nibling on a tasty avocado sandwich. Starting a vox video on youtube, because when I am not so productive, watching documentary videos while eating gives me a feeling that at least I learned something today.
Bam in front of me, Bambino giggling with a huge smile, -how are you my brother! He says.
He is wearing some bright red sweatpants, and a baseball cap covering the front of his head. All I see is smile.
We talk about our last days, and a million other random things, conversations with Bambino flow in such a effortless way, even with the fact that he had such a different life experience than I, we understand or at least he understands me perfectly. But there is one thing that I realize coming back and back in our conversation, it’s the way Bambino describes how he would drink and drink water, mimicking it with his hands as if he was drinking from a gallon bottle. He says that now, ever since he left homeland Guinea Conakry, he drinks so much more water. Every morning when he wakes up and even every night before sleeping, he finishes a whole bottle. But he says it with so much pride, and when he talks about l’eau, it is l’eaU! and not l’EAu… So I naïve, ask if it is because maybe the water in his homeland was less potable? Nahh, We can drink any type of water. Of course, it was dirty, he says… But let me tell you something, to us (the ones who have to suffer ) God has given the gift of iron stomachs. We never get sick. Never? I insist. Never in my whole life, bambino replies to me. And he goes on to tell me various stories of when he drank the most hostile of all them water, from night searches guided by frog growling to deadly clandestine migrant water search squads in north Africa. But there is one story that is fond to Bambino’s cap covered eyes. One that makes his voice crack, that makes his eyes glow a little more that stir a soup up in his mind.
A dark night in the north border of Algeria and Morocco, as almost routine, Bambino had to regularly try his chances to make it to the other side. That day he goes for another try, into wilderness, into everywhere and nowhere, with nothing, not even a plan. He walks for more than twelve hours straight under the hostile arid North Saharian sun, by the afternoon, all his water bottle reserves are long gone, he is already completely exhausted and still no sign of Moroccan land. Gathering strength from nowhere, he keeps on walking trough the forest that just gets darker and darker, so black it is completely pitch black, and his strenuous hike pace, transforms into one similar of a blind man walking trough a busy crossway. Only death crosses now trough his mind, his throat and mouth sting as if they have been scraped with sandpaper. His muscles are giving up. He tries to scream but no one hears. In the early hours of dawn he has given up, dragging himself trough the dirt back to the Algerian frontier, crossing the border is the least of the problems, surviving is the only goal. He sees far away on another hill, a car light quickly disappear. So, he gathers more from nothing, and drags his body there, on the asphalt he lets everything go. His body, his will and his life. Lying on the middle of the road in the dark, while gazing with his moribund eyes at the stars hoping someone will notice and stop for him. The wait is so long he loses track and is only waken up buy some soldiers that violently throw him in the back of their trunk.
Back in the refugee camp, he chugs on bottles of untreated water, but that water does not taste like salvation, it burns and cuts trough every inch of his cracked throat. That memory flares again every time Bambino swallows, and from now on every time I also. Before every sip I drink, a drip of burning pain will slice through my throat too now.
I look up at Bambino standing in front of me and his eyes glow, he still smiles, but he seems dreamy. He says that sometimes when he remembers these stories real life doesn’t seem discernable from never waking nightmare.
Thank you , merci Bambino merci
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