When we arrived at the asylum centre we expected to be pushed into a refugee camp. The system had told us of the hell these camps would be as escapees were nothing and worthless. That had been another of the many lies the system hierarchy had used to keep the people soulless but loyal,
Instead, we were taken to the home of an elderly couple on the outskirts of the town – several miles from the border crossing so we would no longer hear the dictations of the system’s Tannoy or the regular sound of gunfire.
The house was an old wooden building with a tatami floor. It was a single storey affair and divided into various rooms by paper-thin partitioning that served as walls. A décor of delicate orchids adorned these walls and the scent of flowers in the late morning sun trailed in through the open door of the living room.
We were shown into our room and told to change into the casual clothing that had been given to us and then bring out the system uniform into the garden where we could have some tea.
As the door closed I looked at you and whispered ‘Gai?’
‘What?’ you answered, as you cast the grotesque white shirt to the floor.
‘What is tea?’
‘It’s a hot drink, Kip.’
We changed quickly and silently and then ventured into the garden with the remains of the system clothing. The man, Loban, took the rags and tossed them onto a smouldering pile where it sparked into bright orange flames before disintegrating into ash. The woman, Arina, smiled and guided us to a table and chairs handing us each a cup filled with a tangy amber liquid and a plate of food. They watched us eat and drink, refilling our cups and plates quietly.
I looked at Arina once, and she touched her lips, and whispered ‘Talk comes later – eat.’
So we ate in that little garden, that peaceful garden that to Gai and I was our first taste of Zen.
©JG Farmer 2013