‘My curiosity drives me to walk around my prison, where I stand like an inmate near those massive buildings, guarded by imposing patrol towers.’ Musings by a Sudanese refugee in Holot prison.
By Hassan Shakur
I live in a rugged and semi-abandoned grassland. It is a very remote and isolated area that doesn’t seem to support life at all. There are numerous rocky hills without trees, and the area lives up to its name as a deserted desert.
I live in a small confined center enclosed by a fence that reminds me of a cowshed. The detention facility where I currently live consists of several housing units, each with its own small yard. The center is as tough and strange as its surrounding environment.
Sometimes I aimlessly wander and create a lovely evening picnic for myself. There are huge prisons, poultry sheds, animal farms and military bases around us. Often my curiosity drives me to walk around my prison. I just stand like an inmate near those huge and massive buildings guarded by the imposing patrol towers.
As I walk toward the poultry sheds, I am struck by the amount of chickens I see in such a small place. I go around to the cow sheds, hoping to see something interesting, but unfortunately I find that they are also in prison. Sometimes I tell them, “Hi cows! Look, you should come to Africa – your friends there are free to move anywhere.” Finally, if I don’t find anything enjoyable to do, I climb a hill, lay down on the rocks and wait for the wind to blow. At least then, in that moment, I can enjoy listening to the sound of the wind. Instead, I find myself listening to guns firing from a nearby army base.
The weather here is definitely stranger than anything I’ve ever experienced; it’s always changing. It ranges from very hot, to stormy and windy in the middle of the day, to cold at night. Occasionally we have beautiful, spring-like weather in the morning. This time of day, the morning, is my favorite moment to contemplate; to try and see everything around me as just wonderful.
This piece was originally published in Hebrew on Local Call.