Confession of the Abiku Who Refused to Land in Lampedusa

by Pina Piccolo

No, it wasn’t the despicable Laws of Men
that sank the boat
with its fiery blanket of a sail
completing a Middle Passage
of escape and sorrow
no, it wasn’t the fear sculpted in the eyes
of fishing boats passing-by
that dared not stop
lest they be brought in front of the Grand Jury
of the Law of Mind Your Own Business
and be deemed an accessory
to the crime of Attempted Survival
nor was the commotion caused by
continental Drift
the Tectonic Plate of Africa
colliding with that tiny crumb of Europe
as it sat there with its jails and beaches
waiting for whatever the currents brought
be it corpse or be it tourist.
No, friends, don’t go looking into Economics,
Political Science,
History and International Law,
I am the responsible party, I, just a tiny Abiku
a spirit child
one of the indecisive ones
forever moving between the world of the living
and the spirit world
“unwilling to come to terms with life”.
Police Captain Renato Sollustri,
in its full scuba diving gear
scarier to behold than an alien
sent by the State to recover the bodies
though European, saw and knew who I was
and has now been speechless for two days.
Still dangling from my mother’s umbilical cord
I wasn’t going to trade the sweet water of the womb
for the harsh air and the work of lungs
and the work of muscles and the salt of tears
at the most I would trade amniotic fluid
for the bitter water of the Mediterranean sea
and to hell with the hopes
and illusions and ambitions and demands
and fears and reproaches and claims of the others.
African novelists have described us abiku as
“dislike(ing) the rigours of existence, the unfulfilled longings,
the enshrined injustices of the world, the labyrinths of love
fear(ing) the heartlessness of human beings,
all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see”*
and so I chose sea over land
water over fire
refused that encrusted rock jutting from the waves
and now live in every drop of rain
in every tear shed over the malice of Humans
and their terrible deeds and omissions.

October 10, 2013

A few days after the mass drowning of migrants/refugees close to the shores of Lampedusa, Police Captain Renato Sollustri of the scuba diving police unit, who dove to retrieve the bodies, found under the capsized boat the body of a girl who had given birth just before drowning, the umbilical cord and the baby still attached to her body.

*Ben Okri, The Famished Road, chapter 1.