Around 15 days ago, when I was in Lithuania I visited one of my brothers' friends with my brother. It was early in the morning when I heard some birds tweets, songs of sorrow. I could clearly feel the pain in their songs, I just could not stand it anymore, so I went to see them. I found them in the drawing room where they were kept in a cage for decoration and to please guests with their melodious voice. I saw they were hitting the walls of the cage with their wings as they were eager to break the walls and break free into the nature to be one with the nature. It took me to a flashback where I was kept fpr 15 days in a closed camp in Békéscsaba during proceedings of my asylum case in Hungary. This is a place where refugees are detained under strick security and behind barbed wired walls. I realized that I could identify myself with the birds because I saw myself in them. Eyes full of hope, struggling to get free, hoping to get out of the prison that we are put into, because to be imprisoned is against nature. It was my first time being locked down like that.
I would love to share with you some stories that happened in the closed camp, which have inspired me a lot .
There was a man who had a big knife. Calling it a cutter would be a better choice of words, because he used to cut the iron rods of the prison's windows and help boys to escape prison. Every 2 days he used to cut off the windows and around 20 boys were always ready at his signal to jump out. When they were out, they started running in diffirent directions trying to flee and finally be set free. Most of them were caught and brought back by the Police, but there were always few who were able to escape.
When they were caught by the guards and brought back to the camp, I didnt see any trace of disappointment,regret or grief written on their faces, but i found them looking happy for others who had managed to run away. The most important thing was to hide the cutter from the Police and the staff of that camp and we were successful in that the police always returned with empty hands after hours of searching for it.
The act of actually jumping out of the window is extremely unreal and shocking. The boys had to jump a distance of 7 feet from the window to reach the street, because there was a barbed wired fence separating the wall and the road. We were locked on the first floor of the camp and when the windows were cut off by that boy everyone who had decided to escape, jumped. Immediately they had to run so the police could not catch them. Many of them ended up with broken legs when they jumped down onto the road. Many of them got injured and were taken to hospitals. Many of them managed to flee. Despite the fact that they were injured, they were in the land of hope and freedom and that was the best cure for their wounds.
The guards tried to prevent jumping out the windows and the prisoners' fight for freedom but they were unable to stop those freedom fighters to cut the strong irons rod with the cutter…
They got injured, brought back to the camp, recuperated a while and resumed their freedom. They never gave up.
The hardest time for me was to leave the camp when I was told by the staff that I had to be transferred to another camp in a different city. I was ecstatic about leaving this hellish place but at the same time it made me sad and brought tears to my eyes when I saw the boys standing at the gate saying their farewells, hugging me… When I looked back I saw the boys standing at the windows,waving at me when i was headed to the railway station. It brought a lump to my throat.
Those were the memories that washed over me when I saw the caged birds in Lithuania. I knew what the birds felt, because I had been imprisoned and caged myself.
I paid the owner of the birds to set them free into the nature where they and I belong.
2014.10.30 Ahmed Omer