THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 20
…Out of shear consideration for an ill-advised swimmer, several longshoremen move to hoist Afridi from the frigid drink…
… Afridi tackles the fifty meter swim to provisional independence; independence not freedom, with freedom attained only with asylum status for him and his family at some rare and highly fortified Western Embassy.
He wastes no time swimming at a record pace, for him, and not overlooked by the gathering swarm of bargemen & dock workers who are up early to start their day. Out of shear consideration for an ill-advised swimmer, several longshoremen move to hoist Afridi from the frigid drink, bantering away in a local unrecognized dialect. Surely they were asking him, “What the hell man!”
He nods politely, pretending to understand them, but really only understanding the camel hair blanket given him. Playing dumb is his sole shot at unrecognizability. A single sentence from his intelligent tongue may well tip off any pursuers.
The oldest of these well-meaning men, seems to be on to his plight, considering all the flashing lights on the opposite riverbank. Drawn by the man’s kindness… and his own desperation, he takes the helping hand who leads him away to parts unknown, with the hope of a warm bath, at the bare minimum, at the end of one of these dusty streets.
Once entry is gained, there Afridi meets the better half of his clandestine champion. The ethnic matriarch seems to be upset that her man is not at work, yet somehow gathers some kindness for the stranger in their midst:
- Tepid bath…check
- Dry change of clothes…check
- Some kind of meat meal…check
He is worried about his family. ”Do you have a…?” Afridi puts a hand to his ear, the universal cellphone gesture.