Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Eiri: truly special

Only the very tough and the determined can continue to visit those in the detention centres dumped near Heathrow Airport. And Ester was one of them. Everyone starts visiting with a good intention—some half-baked, others carved in their hearts. However many get defeated after a while, after one too many visit to the forbidding looking detention centre. Or another unannounced transfer. Or another removal. Or another assault. It is a soul-destroying journey to get there, a long ride on the tube, then a tiny local bus, then a miserable 10-minute walk by the motorway. The centre stands there, unmarked, despite what might be going on inside. There is no sign. The only sign that something is amiss is the strange gateway next to the building which is always closed and the security cameras everywhere. But you were strong, Ester, and kept going inside that building. Ester was a true exception to all the rules (including her boots and hair) and had the strongest of conviction that those in detention needed to be heard. And she did indeed hear the screams and prayers of detainees that even those of us who have been “professionally” trained to be a good listener couldn’t pick up. Her listening skill was special but I wonder if people understand what I mean by “special”. It was supernaturally good—does this make sense now? And, Ester, you could smell the dishonesty, pretensions and shallowness miles away, at a first glance, on the phone, on paper, face-to-face. I know you could just tell. And that’s why you were one of us, a bunch of opinionated agitators. Is everyone working in this asylum charity sector genuinely selfless? Does everyone have that depth of heart and humbleness Ester had? Not really. And that’s why we all loved you dearly. You were, after all, as Sabri the writer so aptly put it over our cheap curry, the conscience of LDSG. We felt that we could go on because you were there. I still find it difficult to believe that I won’t see you again. Or that I won’t hear you say like an innocent child, “Purple is my favourite colour” again. Sometimes I feel angry that the rest of the world seems to be unaware that this tremendous loss to humanity has occurred. People hear about it and say “oh how sad” but that’s not enough for me. But given that you were never troubled with things like what I normally call a false sense of self-grandeur, you would probably vehemently argue that you were not all that special. It didn’t go well with your sense of equality, did it? But you were truly special. And your absence seems particularly unfair. Jerome has always said that he had a perfect team, you, Sabri, Aoife and all the committed volunteers, and I had to agree that there was a perfect team. And it is very rare for Jerome or I to say that something is perfect, and you know that. Now we are trying to find a way to be perfect again and we miss you.