After a week of living with Loban and Arina, or it may have been a little more than that as the days of living in their idyllic home seemed to blend in and out of each other, officials from the asylum centre visited us. A mass of papers had to be filled in to apply for refugee status and for an education programme for me. Gai would be placed in a work programme of some sort. I looked at Arina fearing I would be sent away and she put an arm over my shoulder and reassured me both Gai and I would remain with them as long as we needed to. A bus would come each morning to take me to school. I watched as Gai filled in the papers carefully, explaining everything to me as best he could before encouraging me to sign my name on several pages.

The officials then went into the kitchen and spoke to Loban and Arina. Their voices were low but not secretive. I sat on the porch with Gai staring at Loban’s rotator he used in his field. Everyone seemed to have a field here. The growing of fruit and vegetables was considered valuable. Not just single crops year in year out depleting the soil of its nutrients until the land was barren but several and always the soil kept fertile. I admired Loban’s skill with the earth and plants. He took considerable pride in his vegetables, even winning prizes at country fayres for the best examples of a cabbage or onion.

The garden of the little house was dedicated to flowers and beauty. It was peaceful and offered a sweet tranquillity to anyone sitting or strolling within it. But this was Arina’s domain; she had even designed and built the little fountain in the centre of the lawn. For the last few evenings I had sat beside the fountain just letting the sound of the water drift over me. Arina had sat and watched me from the decking. I looked at her as I often did and wondered was my mother like her. The fact I would never know now did not make me sad anymore, Arina treated me like I imagined a mother would treat a son and I was happy, yes, I had found out what happy meant.


©JG Farmer 2013

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