IN THE CELL
' Please let her have the pen Alexia,? She wants the pen, you know she isn't right. Just let her have the pen?'
' Fuck off, I'm writing to Jack,'
' Just let her use it.'
the argument went on, Alexia gave the pen over to Shanaz who give it to Lucy. Silence in the cell for a bit.
‘ Shanaz, what happen to you, how did you get these injuries?'
'There was a bomb blast one day, that was all. It was nothing to do with all of this. I was in the hospital for one year. I had so many operations. They thought I would die. I had to keep trying. No one in this country believed me. I will be sent home to die', Shanaz has been burnt.
Alexia, pounds the wall. ‘ I will stay here, another three years. I will not die in Russian prison.’ They will kill me if I am sent back to Moscow and anyway I have no passport ever, I am Chechen.
Alexia has a longish face and very pale blue eyes. Her hair was once dyed red regularly, but now it is almost all grown out and mousey. She wants to go away from this place, even to an immigration detention centre but it really won’t happen. There is no one to help, no money in it they’d say over dinner before reading up on the next case with no minute and just getting on with it, less and less money to live on, while Westminster and all those bankers whitter on, comfortable, not worried about where to get the next mortgage payment from.
Lucy was remanded in custody during her trial, she spent time thinking over what had happened from what she could remember, when back in the cell at night. They had read from her dairy and facebook pages.
From her Diary, adduced in light of the civil evidence act and other ahem rules, I should like to quote, the crown went on…..she repeats the lawyers words in court that day
Alexia is her friend in the cell. She had no documents to prove who she was. She is a Chechen Muslim girl whose family ran away many years before. She was not believed and the government wants her out, but she has no papers. One day after waiting for five years and taking to smack, she kicked a door in and slept in a commercial property to stave off the cold. So now she has been inside for four years and nine months. She has served her criminal sentence that took 1 year, for kicking the door in. The rest of the time is as she has no documents and well she might run off. So several years later she is still there, growing more fractured each meal, each glance and each disappointment, of which there are many. Alexia is sort of Lucy’s friend, she doesn’t pour sugar and hot water over her in an effort to burn her skin off for being a grass. and she doesn’t pushes her around either. People say Alexia has gone soft but she sees it differently. She keeps her head down inside. No adjudications, she says proudly, hair slightly eschewed and her once innocent big eyes rigid with loss. Tell me why you here Lucy, Alexia says pulling at one of her curls. Lucy finds it hard to speak. She might be at home now. Alexia is looking at her cellmate wondering why she keeps singing the same song again and again.
You NEVER GIVE ME YOUR MONEY… and in the middle of negotiations I break down.
Lucy Mathew is now remembering a meal she once ate. She loves the meal, it tastes so nice. In her head there is a golden plate and a gold fork like at home in front of her. She isn’t hungry anymore.It is a steak, with sauce on it. A blue cheese sauce. Broccoli, with potatoes. They are chips, sweet chips. She starts to chew. It feels so nice in the house she is in. It is warm, the fore is on. Her dog is cuddled into her at her feet. Her best blanket is there covering her. It’s brown and furry.
Occasionally she hears some words coming from in front of her. Like a vortex of words. Lucy Mathew, her name is being spoken, so she tries to listen, but the warmth of the other room, with the steak and her puppy dog pull her back in.
Lucy sings all the time, today Alexia thinks it isn't too bad,almost in tune:
‘ But only love can break your heart, try to be sure right from the start. I was only thinking, game s that you you were playing, try to make the best of my time, but only love can break your heart yes only love can break your heart try to be sure right from the start. ‘St Etienne 1993.
What is this song Lucy? Lucy is always singing these days, one song after another whirling around stopping her from remembering it all. ‘Tile off’ says the wing bully as she passes by and grins. Bang Bang Bang on the cell door, she laughs so hard as she walks past. She’s a listener not a good one.
There is a letter in this well ordered cell.
Dear Mr. Clark,
My name is written above. This is my fourth letter, I am not sure if you have seen the other three. I might write again. The green pen that I had was a little feint but hopefully this blue one will be more suitable for your eyes. I am writing to request that your government releases me. I also want to ask you some questions. Is that alright?
The questions are below:
Why am I being held after three years?
I have committed a crime, but I am sorry I have served the time for that crime. You have lost my passport and so you will make me stay here? Why?
I cannot go back to Russia, they will kill me. I do not wish to die in a military prison, so please will you help me?
If it is possibly please can you send a message to the Russian Government and tell them to respect the Chechen people’s religious freedom?
You will find that such a request is in keeping with international standards of human decency and human right I understand from reserch
I do not understand why you say I will run away, I have my friend Sally who lives in Leeds AND She will put me up. I have learnt my lesson. I want to be given a chance.
I am writing to you as Justice Secretary I saw you on the television
Alexia Gavrilook, Holme House Women’s Wing
One day Mr. Clark does write back, the Home Office look at her case again and she is allowed to stay in England. she marries and decides to settle in Lincoln. Her husband goes to University and trains to be a Doctor, she will never forget any of the prison or the smell every morning of burnt toast from the prison kitchen, mingled with sausage.
In the next cell is a Kurdish girl from Iran. She had been left in limbo for a decade and ended up in here after one or two things went wrong. She hadn’t known if she could stay in England, safe but penniless or whether she’d be sent to Iran. The Home Office will not let her work. The tabloids said of late that in fact some could work. Shanaz sneers at the word some. She came here because she wanted medical treatment on the international health service that’s what the Home Office thought. It was true she had been injured badly. The fingers on one hand were blown off in a bomb blast she said. She worked for the mujahedeen. The explosives had almost melted a face that you could still see had been beautiful. For a long time, after the initial multiple operations were over, the pain receded, She tried hard to still be as feminine as she had once been. When the lawyers come to visit her, she tells them that she will only sign documents with her lucky pen. This brings a smile to the tired faces sitting in the interview booth. What a woman. She pushes back her silky black curls with her good hand before she signs what feels like the seventh statement. It’s the fifth.
When her appeal was heard by the judge she told her that she was telling the truth. Her father was a Kurdish activist.The reason was that in Iran, they were not allowed to speak in their own Kurdish language. Everyone knows that.. She had not told the judge everything about her activities, they had sworn an oath to be taken to the death, that they would not betray each other. The lack of this information, led the judge to suspect she was lying. Later on in the cell she tells Alexia about her family a little:
‘Alexia, don’t cry, you never cry what's the problem?
‘ In Kurdistan we understand about Chechnya. We know who Aslan is. Here they only care about possessions, the reason for that is as they have got their freedom.’ If we were freed we would think the same’.
‘ Once my baba, my father looked so sad. He came back from the germ KHAN. germ means hot. In my language. It was where he was born, high on a beautiful hillside.
He said nothing. His dish dash was covered in blood. He was pale. I heard him say something to my mother. I couldn’t make it out. Then they told me grandfather was dead. He and four of our Uncles. It was a town called Halabja.
And do you know, who supplied the chemical weapons to drop on the men women and children? It was the United Kingdom.
Mrs. Thatcher wrote a letter to my Uncle in Englistan. She said that this was trade.
The reason they sold weapons to the Iranians and to Sadaam Husain.
There is a village called Merger Soud. In the Summer it gets hot there. You could see a sparkling stream there if we were there now.
Both girls are in Merger Soud now.
Alexia you FOX KEEP UP. !!! Shanaz walks up the hillside a little bit, her injuries have disappeared. The mountain has no trees. Sadaam got rid of the trees and bulldozed the whole area. She goes to look for her family. She is talking in Kurdish, the musical language she almost forgot when she was a political activist in Tehran. A song comes to mind.
‘Baran, baran, baran najar, baran baran hey !” ‘Baran baran naJar, baran baran hey!”
Baran means rain. It is hot though. She is tired Amin maan doom. Maybe her mother has made some food. She decides to go into their home. Normally her father would be outside, shooting partridges with his rifle. He would tell anyone who’d listen that he had lost five teeth when they locked him up in a camp. They pushed the gun into his face so that he lost all his teeth. What’s worse all of the family’s land had been confiscated. Once a powerful political family, they had nothing now. Having nothing really means that you do not have a say. If they wanted to move, they could not. If someone got ill, like Aunty BeJan, she was paralysed. BeJan waited upstairs in a shelled out building in a part of Hawler, one of the bigger cities. Her son would sometimes cry out for help but she was not seen by a doctor for some years.
She is now remembering halabja. That day her strong, handsome father who worked so hard cam home, he told them that so many people had been killed. They dropped gas on them. Little children lying dead in the street. People were burned. He was in shock.
‘……………..You already took our land. It was President Woodrow Wilson he promised the Kurds a sovereign state. The formation of a Kurdish state was supposed, to have been accomplished through the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 which said that the Kurds could have an independent state if they wanted one since the Treaty of Sevres in 1914 , sometimes she would mix her date.
‘ You said 1920 a moment ago,’ Alexia mutters. Was this girl telling the truth?
When England divide our nation up, to avoid giving the Kirkuk oil fields away we had to fight. The Ba’athists will not let us call our children Kurdish names. We have to get higher marks than an ordinary Iraqi. 90% instead of 60 to study medicine. Based on race. Imagine that generations, upon generations the same thing, I could go on. Why did you have to take her. Why did you have to take little Aisha too?’
At this my heart stopped, Aisha was my kid sister. She was a ball of energy. Running around the place. Sometimes somersaulting. The bastards took her life for no reason at all. And that was the start of it. I decided that I would do what I could, as much as I thought a woman could, to free our people, or at least to get some revenge at first that’s what I thought’.
So I joined the party my cousin’s Joined before me and we ran away to Iran. Don’t tell anyone I am from Iraq, they will send me there.
I wrote some articles explaining why in a modern world each nation that desires autonomy, self determination should be permitted their desire, given what they want.
For some time, there was no trouble. I lived in the biggest city it was an exciting place to be. But it was hard to understand their Farsi language. We decided me and three others to start a movement to demonstrate. i wrote and printed leaflets calling the disaffected youth to arms.
We would meet regularly. My mum was worried about me. My Diyah. But I would say to her on the telephone, Diyaah our Wuhlat, our country has to be liberated. Once it is liberated I will return to you and we will breathe calmly the sweet air of almond flowers and eat shooti, melon.
The party sent me to university. I trained to be a pharmacist.
‘ I did not create the bomb Alexia.’ She has to make her pont. She is being eyeballed by her cellmate. She has been in here long enough, knows this is bad news.
‘Do you mind if I tell you the rest??”
‘no, go on, I am tired I think of my own father, my own motherland you see, that is all.’
It was another group, trying to discredit us.
There are those people, some people they believe that we must fight fire with fire.
No one hear believed me, but even with one hand I can still write and tell other people about the sorrow.
I am here for a long time now Alexia, I am tired. In Iran there was a trial. Looking down. A trial where the prosecutor and the Judge were the same person. I was not allowed to speak. I had been tortured. The thing is How could I sit at home and let them kill us. I did not deny my involvement. I paid a huge price. Others sold their cars and we put a property up for bail. I ran away to this country under a lorry. There were twelve of us.
Alexia silently remembers the Journey she and her family had made, a similar Journey. Someone, an agent took advantage of her on that Journey in the lorry and later locked n a house with many other young girls.
If the government had their way she’ll be back in Russia before long too. Serving Military detention as a black widow. The slur some give to a Chechen Muslim woman………………………..
Lucy thinks that she faces every obstacle in proving her sanity and her innocence and pretty much in doubt in a rare moment of clarity. Trouble is she’d been drinking and well when they said she'd knifed him. She had ripped out pages from her diary, thank god, they'll never find them.
The next day the Prosecutor reads from those pages in Court.
THE DIARY PAGES THAT WERE PUT INTO LEFT LUGGAGE
AT THE STATION USED AT HER TRIAL. EXHIBIT THREE
A copy is handed to the jurors.
IN HER DIARY SHE WRITES :
I put my hands up, I did love him. I killed him too. I didn’t know her at all. Not at all. I feel sad, I wonder what happened to her. Alice Cardinal. She was pretty. I never recall JJ saying anything other than he knew her from work. Now that I’m feeling better I can tell the police that. I know that she only knew him to say hello too. But the thing is I feel so unsure of myself I don’t know if I did do it or not. I want to believe that I did not that I could not, kill a good man. Why wouldn’t anyone hurt a good person. He was no one to be punished or killed. Where would I find the strength I weigh ten stone eight, I’m little. He was a big muscly bloke. But sometimes at night time, when I’ve been on my own all day and I haven’t slept on the couch I think that maybe I did kill him and maybe I should call Mr. self. He could tell me if I did. It all got too much. I loved my job, I lost it. There was nothing worse than feeling ashamed. Mum has gone to Mumbai, I hope she writes soon I’m stuck here. I gave up facebook it was too confusing for me now. Alice, Alice will you come back ever? I didn’t know her at all. She is Just a face in the papers to me. A beautiful wooden face with nothing behind it. Just dead eyes, sorry I don’t mean dead like that. I didn’t kill them, I swear. I Just don’t know why I can’t remember. He was really something. Let me tell you about when we met. I would wonder for hours over what to say to him. What to wear if I saw him. How I was doing. He Just made me feel like I belonged. He is my everything. But then the memories get all mixed up. I told him everyday how much I wanted him. I had much more that I wanted to show him. I spent so much money on underwear. He could have complimented me quite well, before I ended up here, now he’s in the ground somewhere. His brother won’t even speak to me. Fuck. Why did he have to send her that watch. To add insult to injury it’s the same fucking watch I sent him, but the girl’s version. I know about his stupid tricks, he should have loved me back. I loved him in my heart. He betrayed me. He went to a shop and bought that watch for my best friend. What a laugh a best friend who only likes me if I look worse than her or something. Can’t handle the competition. Won’t you listen to me Johan, please listen to me I had shouted. I begged you on my knees. I got my Jeans dirty. I loved you so much, please leave her alone. Don’t laugh at her stupid you tube clips . That bitch pretended that she didn’t know who the watch was form, but I could see it was his handwriting. I’d seen text messages on his phone to her and back from her. SO much for love. SO much for friendship.
Elton John comes on the radio in the cell, also in the room where she dances with Johan who is not hacking but intently looking at her putting Dior fudge coloured lipstick on to her shapely lips slow.
‘ Anyway the thing is, what I really need. yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen. You can tell everybody this is your song, ‘
Thing is I love him so much, I could never kill him. That’s the main point. How can I explain the knife with my DNA On? That’s the question. How can I explain. How can I. I need to be reprogrammed to live without him, answer me.
As she wrote those words with a green pen topped with a plastic frog and green fur, the tears mess up her eyeliner and black drips all over the pen, blurring the word adore. The jurors won't know that though. 'Reads like a confession, ' one juror commented to his neighbour in their retiring room.
Lucy realises as she should have done before that he is now gone forever. I know how long that is. It means I cannot ever hold your hand, it will have to be another’s hand. I cannot kiss you in a way that I hope is maybe enough, although it wasn’t. I can never make you tell me the truth about all those silly characters and all the crushes and stories you have inside your clever head. I couldn’t compete with all the other ones. I want to find you again. I wish I could hold you again in my arms, but you would always wriggle away from me when you were asleep those few times you let me close to you.I can remember you looking at me, with very big eyes and you're always smiling mischievous grin, ‘ I like Elton John actually, a lot’. The way you pause when you speak, opportune pauses makes me sigh even years after you spoke those words. There is nothing left to say. I cannot have killed you because I love you deep inside my heart. I understand about what you do and I forgive you. Except for the watch and the watching. Watching girls is not good. Telephones and computers. I don’t understand. I don’t believe. I can’t remember.I don't believe you would do that. Maybe he never fucking well did that. The police say I waited for her to come out of your flat in the morning, that I had hacked your phones. That I had sent a worm to your pc and that I waited, must have waited no one saw me down the road. At 5am when she left for work, maybe I stabbed her and took you both off to that house. EXCEPT I DIDN’T. I wouldn’t because I fucking love you. You are burned into me, into my head. I want to kiss your nose with my nose and let you undress me. Why couldn’t I belong to you, like your thing. I didn’t want that blonde tramp to take you away form me. She is Just there all the time, with her stupid pints and stupid male coats. Her clothes are Primark, doesn’t a Hugo Boss dress and Alex McQueen heels mean a thing to you. My igognito Chanel lipstick was overlooked. My agent prov a load of shit compared to her Yorkshire basic charm.Really though, she writes, really I know I was only a little wooden. She wasn’t really skeletal. I know I can be difficult, possessive if I love you.Once you told me you were frightened of getting hurt, so you wrote to women who lived two thousand light years away or something in Australia. You said you wanted someone nearer and kissed me in the half light of your then room. There is no evidence of me hacking that’s for sure. None that anyone can find. I did love you but you had to understand that you are mine. So I couldn’t let you betray me with her. So you had to die. I’m sorry. But it couldn’t happen to me again, I’m sorry Mr. Self.