• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 12
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Tipping The Scales

Ayesha stares out of the hotel’s open window into a night sky that cracks thunder and flashes ziggy spikes of white. The rain trampolines from rooftops, gushes from overflowing gutters. She watches as roads become rivers; rivers of mud, branch, up-turned tables, chairs, and who knows what else. Flimsy fishing boats in the quay rock and roll. Lucky will be the ones to survive, she thinks. Her sister is watching a news channel, sound muted as Greek is an unknown language to them. A reporter is stood at the edge of a lake. Red-tiled rooftops pock the water’s surface, then the image switches to the field of wheat it was before, to a cattle shed, a big bright sun, a tractor. And then it switches to an old man in the doorway of his home, shoe and topless, bent and broken, sweeping coffee coloured water from his hallway as a girl in crusted silt camouflaged clothes targets crevices with the meagre flow from a hosepipe. The man sweeps and weeps. What else is he to do? This is all he has. Such images need no words.

The television is showing news repeated from the storm one month before, three days before Ayesha and her sister arrived in this country and have ever since been shepherded hither and thither to places dry and clean. Ayesha turns to see her sister perched on the edge of the bed, sitting glued to the screen. In one hand she holds a felafel wrap, the other, the remote control. She nibbles like a mouse, eyes not leaving the screen. Then, in one corner of the screen, the word ‘live’ appears and it’s a different reporter, and it is night, and it is now. And it is happening again. Ayesha closes the window, calls her sister’s name, asks her to switch of the television, finish eating. This is a tiny hotel room, but there is just enough space between the bed and window for them to put down their mats, kneel, and pray.