Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Little Bee (copy)

My name is Little Bee, and I changed my name in order to hide which village I am from in Africa. The oil companies have found their precious product on our lands and I am no longer safe. The same oil companies hired nasty men to kill all the people and burn down each village instead of dealing with tribal leaders. I made it out but my sister, Kindness, was not as lucky.

I now wait in a gray detention center outside of London. The walls are gray, the tiles are gray, the whites of our clothes are gray, the sky is gray, and my heart is gray. Whatever I do, I cannot bring the yellow of sunshine into my body. No matter how hard I look at the sky, blue will not enter my heart. I cannot eat the green grass all around me for I know it will taste like slate. If I could raise a flag for us refugees it would be the color gray.

The center is not all bad. They do separate us from the men at night. We have our compound and they have theirs. During the day I see how they look at the flowers in our group. The pretty girls who dress in the best clothes the hand-me-down bins offer are flowers. The men stare in wait. It is like the wild animal licking his lips.

I make myself less flower like. Early, before they open our compound doors, I wrap my chest in gauge as tight as possible. I want them to think I am very young, too young to bother. To complete my child look, I wear baggy pants and a horrid red Hawaiian shirt. My boots, a size small with reinforced steel toe, makes me feel like a little bee that hides her stinger.

Psst - I have a secret. I spend my days thinking of different ways to kill myself if the men come. It is a little game I play to keep me safe. For example, if the men corner me in the bathroom I will drown myself in the toilet bowl. If they catch me alone in the compound I will hang myself with the curtain pulls. For emergencies, I carry a small compact in my pants and will break the mirror to slit my arms. The nasty men will never get me.

Chris Cleave said he got the idea for his book Little Bee from his UK passport. He was once asked which 10 books he could not live without and one was his pass book or passport. He travels as a reporter for London’s Guardian newspaper and uses his to enter foreign lands seamlessly. If trouble occurs he can flash it and say I am a UK citizen and this is not my battle. Little Bee was written to show the plight of humans who do not own passports nor have a country that will protect them.