A place I called my own

I was violently mugged a few months ago. Whether it was a mugging or an act of racism is not clear yet. I was beaten with my walking stick, my nose broken, suffered a concussion and right now, my disillusionment with this place is real. My tranquility for this place is now a crashed nothingness. I have developed Post Concussion syndrome, which includes insomnia, tinnitus and a sense that I have trapped myself here, in a corner of Eastern Europe that I could trust. All my months and talk of calling this place “home” are now nothing but bitter reminders of my naivete. How could I, a coloured man, think that this corner of Eastern Europe accept me as anything but an inferior man on a walking stick who warranted an attack by 5 men in masks , and possibly be beaten into a state from where there would be no recovery. It is only by a stroke of luck that I came out of it alive but my injuries will take months to heal.

What will not heal is my disgust.

I have often defended this place, called it a place of peace and beauty but now those very words are nothing but ashes in my mouth. I wish that I knew what would happen 10 months ago, when I landed here and saw before me a quiet town. In every corner now, I see a shadow waiting to pounce and the way my ¬†fellow countrymen are treated shows that my assessment is right. We are not Jews, and I am not Jewish either, but the mugging changed the very idea that I had hoped was real; that regardless of what everyone had advised me about this place, there would be something that was reconcilable but there isn’t.

I can’t leave the country and go back, because my ID card was in the wallet that was mugged. I can’t leave the country because there is nothing for me back there except a change in career. As compared to the very real threat against my personal safety, a career change and a change to my principles would be acceptable. I read my old posts now and feel only a sense of disgust that never goes away. My mugging is not something that I will ever forget or forgive, because in the span of two minutes, I was close to death. I often wonder if I had died that evening, bleeding in the light of the streetlamp, under the shadow of a church. If I had died, would there be justice? No. Is there justice now? No. Will I ever get justice? Will those bastards who surrounded me as I sat exhausted and tired after a long day at university ever be caught and put behind bars? No. Instead, they will probably be praised and their lives will continue, blissful ones that are only interspersed by acts of violence that will glorify them.

I did contact my embassy, the police and my countrymen living here were alerted, but what difference does it make? My nose is still broken, my head hurts for hours on end, and there is no sense of security even as I sit at home. If I had died then, beaten to death for no crime other than being born with the skin and features over which I had no control, who would take my body back home? Would my body reach home in the first place? Who would call my family and tell them that I was beaten to death in a place that I had frequented and never felt ill at ease there? Would my body reach home where I now wish I was rather than this place that I have come to associate with a squalid dump? The indifference of Eastern Europeans would be something that would probably make it worse for my family, but it is something that I couldn’t change, dead as I would be, my last thoughts only those of panic as I tried to defend myself from blows by steel capped boots. I can still hear the roars of those cowards in masks as 4 of them tried to throw me to the ground and succeed after one of them hit me across the head with my walking stick cracking my skull and knocking me to the ground. My nose was broken shortly after that and I can still taste my blood in mouth and its steel like smell in my nose as it bled.

Now, I am only disgusted with this place and with myself. How could I have been so naive to trust this place? How could I have not seen this coming? How could I have walked the streets at night placing my security in the false hope that this place would be alright and that every warning that I was given that racism and crime are commonplace against my people was nothing more than mere words that couldn’t give nuance to what I had experienced?