Asylum Seeker by Andy Munro

I am in the holding pen.

There is no sense of time or place for me now as I belong and am connected solely to the process that has brought me here. I am no longer the same as I was before it began.

Very soon now, I will go to the last evaluation and then the final assessment will be made. There will be no appeal, simply a stark choice between being allowed to remain or being cast into the dark.

I still bear the marks of all the earlier evaluations and assessments that have so changed and reduced me. I have been cut scratched and bruised, by a systematic process done brutally but without malice, which requires me to justify my existence and to demonstrate my right to remain here. Everything I have said, every statement I have made, every truth I have asserted has been doubted and questioned, until I now doubt and question them myself.

My advocate, who shows little real sign of really caring what happens to me has suggested words for me to say that though not true, will be more acceptable to the one who will judge me, than what I would say myself. I sense that I am simply one of a long line of similar cases and that to this advocate my own unique circumstances and history are as nothing compared to what needs to be said to comply with the rules of the process.

It is explained to me that I am not a person but an idea, a type, a concept. Very few people like who I am and what I represent. There are those who say they do and even think that they do, but their tolerance and support is limited to those of us who do not challenge their prejudices. We are expected to conform to a type that they have constructed in their heads without really knowing us.

Then there are those who truly hate us. To them we are as cancer cells in an otherwise healthy body, to be blocked, contained and expelled.

So I have little choice but to accept the advice of my advocate. I do so and I pass his final evaluation. My advocate who is also my judge and in a sense is also me, has reluctantly decided that I can stay. Neither of us would call this a success, but it is better than the alternative.

There are others, in the holding pens, in the process, but I don’t know them, where they come from or what will happen to them. They are all, every single one of them, another story.

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