What is the experience of life in exile, as a refugee, as a survivor of torture? Six writers and three musicians took to the stage to tell us at the Roundhouse, in London, for a performance of Lost and Found. Tickets were sold out. When they came to the end of their show applause was prolonged, the audience rose to its feet: we had all been moved by the stories.
The cast, Uganda, Jade, Alex, Prossy, Neda and Faryad, are members of the Write to Life creative writing group at Freedom from Torture. Their stories reflect the deep losses experienced when they were forced to flee to another country. Music is lost: a violin buried stands for the destruction of beauty in Iran; a Ugandan song recovered in and unintentionally sung to the occupants of the British Library Reading Room; the ubiquity of dance music in Cuba; the sadness of Kurdish songs.
I was cut in half in exile, always trying to find my other half.
The search for what is lost may not be successful. Life in a new country may not be good. It takes years to recover from torture and it is more difficult in this disbelieving climate.
Music can express the loss of dignity, self-respect, physical integrity through flight, exile and torture. Waiting for my Number was an amusing song. But it is not a good experience for those who must queue to report to the authorities at Lunar House, Croydon. It is mostly about waiting for their number. A stateless person, seeking asylum, reduced to a number by the system. No one is only a number!
Some things are found, sometimes through the kindness of strangers. With nothing to live for, it seemed, Jade was ready to step in front of a car in Greenwich and end it all. She was saved by a passer-by and made a permanent friend.
After three and a half years of imprisonment in an unknown place, another member of the cast escaped hoping to reach London. She found she was already there.
A family, alive and well, was rediscovered in his Ugandan homeland, his mother able to speak on the phone, everyone changed after 20 years.
The Writers Group, Write to Life, at Freedom From Torture, has a therapeutic purpose. Writers rediscover their voices, their sense of self, their dignity and can tell us, who are more fortunate, about what torture and exile means.
The six writers had told their stories to Christine Bacon who brought these stories together in a script. Music and lyrics were added by Ana Silvera and performed by her and Alice Zawadka and Will Roberts.
My walk and challenge.
I am raising money for Freedom From Torture, through sponsorship of a monthly walk and a blogpost. This is the first post in the monthly series. You can read more about it on the page called My Challenge (just click on the page title below the masthead).
September walk had a literary connection. Agatha Christie lived at Greenway, Devon. She too was lost and found at one point in her life. I walked on Thursday 15th September, a circular route, from Broadsands to Greenway on the River Dart, and then back along The John Musgrave Trail and SW Coast Path. 13kms (8 miles).
You can sponsor my walk/blog here, by clicking onto my Just Giving Page. Please be generous.
Related posts and websites
Souvenirs and Writing Home April 2013
Dear Jade September 2013
Souvenirs May 2016
The next post about the challenge will appear on this blog …
… in mid-October
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