A Line

Cover Image

The moment I stepped out of the car, I felt the tightening in my throat and as I walked towards that one-story building I realized three things all at once, 1) I shouldn’t have worn heels; 2) I forgot to bring a pen with me, what if no one gives me a pen? and 3) the depth of my aloneness.

It also crosses my mind, as I overstep the puddle forming next to a dripping rusted pipe, how absurdly dependent my life has been that I have never stepped foot in this building before. How he always took care of these things, how terrifyingly unprepared I am for life. Without him.

I’m side stepping a woman on her phone by the door, repeating a mantra in my head. It will be fine, you can do this. The door opens and I side-step again to let a couple pass by me. I’m finally inside, shielded from the unforgiving sun, but it’s no less hot in here, the small space crowded with rows of people sitting as if in a theater, watching other rows of people standing in line by the only two windows in-operation.

After a quick inspection I see a few people holding tickets with numbers on them, and it’s a slight hope, that this is an organized chaos. The numbers dispenser is broken but it’s okay, I’m immediately saved by the elderly lady holding a roll of numbers, handing them away with the greatest disinterest.

My mother calls as I try to find a spot least colored with dust, to lean against. I tell her quickly and quietly that I’m packed and ready, I just need to get one document for my final exit visa, I try but fail to defend myself when I have to tell her that I didn’t even know I needed this thing.

An hour and a half later, during which I managed to upgrade from the wall to the actual audience, I’m gloriously transferred to a line, I lean slightly back trying to covertly catch as much of the air generated by the makeshift hand-fan the gentleman in front of me is using.

And then I’m told, by way of eavesdropping, that this place closes by 2 pm, as in half an hour. And then I’m checking my flight on my phone, pathetically prying that it will magically become on a different date, one not conceding with a weekend, certainly not tomorrow! I recount the people ahead of me. Repeat mantra.

And I as tamper down my panic at failing this simple task, at being stuck in this part of the earth for another unidentified period of time, I’m jolted back a step as this woman, who surly was lurking until the line moved to place herself in front of me. I tell her it’s my place, that I have the number, I show her! She shrugs, I look longingly at the guard on the side, who immediately pretends to be engrossed in his newspaper. I decide to let it go, one more person. Repeat mantra.

I’m there. I smile wildly at the man across the window. A small voice in my head tells me I have the wrong form and a handful other probable scenarios, I’m truly convinced with it, but I defend that he won’t notice as I drop the documents on the little counter, but he is standing up, I look questioningly as he throws out a dismissive apology, points to the clock behind him, I lay out the urgency of the matter pleadingly and he points out to the line behind me, asks why me not the others. And I can answer that, I can! There is a lot of reasons why me and not them and I do list them, all of them.

I’m note sure, if it’s the tears or the rising panic attack that has him sitting back down but I look down at my stamped exit visa, smiling.

All without a pen.

Created: May 06, 2017


NadaBashammakh Document Media