“Wet I’m, they were late with their umbrellas. We’ve been waiting here for an hour with ten or fifteen people. An old gray man had just entered through the cellar door. Maybe it’s the doctor. I can’t ask because I haven’t spoken for years. Why did I forget, too much has happened. I was able to write, even in French. But since I’ve been locked up there, I don’t do that anymore.
“I fled to this city. Elsewhere, it was not life, in the shelter there, they stole my things and they scolded. I can listen at my best, I understand that I make it difficult for others. But it’s safe like that, I can’t say anything bad. My knee hurts, maybe the doctor can do something and who knows he can provide me with shelter.
“I give my file of papers to the lady in the office. He tells the doctor that communication with me is difficult because I don’t speak. Strangers lined up behind me. It is also difficult to talk about it. If only he knew there was a lady there who also fled a shelter because they were teasing her and wanted to kill her. At least that’s what she shouted. This gray man has to listen to this too. I look neat with clean clothes from the walk-in house except my wet shoes.
Fortunately, the old doctor first wants to know what is wrong. I show my knee. He asks if it hurts, I put my thumb up. I pretend I can only walk a little bit, but he says he doesn’t see anything special about my knee and that I should take paracetamol. Then he wants to know why I am not going back to the shelter. Then it gets too complicated, because then it asks questions that my thumb can’t answer. He says I got help there but I didn’t, no one helped. By the way, I don’t have any money to go home at all.
“He asks if he can call the shelter. Thumbs down. Then he goes to a social worker or something and I hear them talking, but I don’t understand. When he comes back he says he’ll call anyway. Because although I was born in this city, I hadn’t been there for decades. Then, according to him, I cannot get help. I have nothing to say here. I have to go home immediately or my bed will be out of there. Finally, the old man asks if I have money for the train. Thumbs down. He finds his wallet and pulls out a ten. I raise my thumb. In this world, it is a difficult life for us injured people on the run.
Joost zaat is a general practitioner