I woke up illegal today • Adriana Ribeiro

I woke up illegal today. It was as if the sun, when it knocks at the Irish doors, blew trumpets announcing my condition, and if I went out into the streets, everyone would stare at me horribly judgmental: “Look at that illegal one!” In bed, I gazed at the ceiling. A scary empty square. It seemed that it would swallow me at any moment. My room – I mean, not mine anymore, because if I don’t belong here, nothing here belongs to me either – had an indigestion out of me. And that was how, overnight, I became hostage to my passport. I pulled it out of the drawer and opened it like someone who reads the Tarot. I uncrossed my eyes and the light of the white pages revealed the uncertainty of the future. What am I going to do? Each breath taught me a different sound in the house. If anyone came to get me, I wanted to know where it would come from. The routine of my flatmates was slowly unravelling, loudly. And it only took one morning for me to learn the 6 different steps, sighs and movements around. Anything that was unusual would be considered suspicious.

A whole morning had passed, and I dared not leave the house. I wondered how I was going to tell my family, if I should, if I would lose my job, who I could trust, if this quarrel I had with this guy I worked with two years ago was a danger. Amid questions, I found myself happy and sad. Happiness came from those who never imagined living what they lived and, dammit… Well, that’s a lot! The reason for this sadness was that I knew none of this would repeat itself. It doesn’t mean that life was a car drive around the infinity circle, but knowing that I might not be able to go to pubs, streets and parks as before for missing a simple stamp made me feel in vain. That’s it. I am vain. The desperation seemed even greater at that moment, so I opened the laptop and started my research. For many people, illegality is not a big deal, they live as if they could not be caught, so they do not even hide. And that’s how I thought I should live. I looked at myself in the mirror as if facing the world. I have always heard that this Green Island chose people, accepting, then, that I was not one of them. Maybe this is anywhere in the world. When you are an immigrant, you have the frequent mission of proving innocence. Money, employment, emotional stability, physical and mental health, all included in our track record. Honestly, I thought I would be prepared for when that time came. I had no way out. And when I cried, acceptance came. I ditched the image in the mirror to choose what to donate, sell, give as a gift, take with me and throw away.

Experiences and desires were accumulating in objects. Everything mine was very little, almost nothing. Anxiety began to overwhelm me more than the fear of lawlessness. It was now the longing, the insecure harbor, that afflicted me. The same feeling I had when I left Brazil. I looked like an enthusiastic teenager, ready to make any mistakes in the name of something bigger, a summer crush with a taste of passion fruit juice. And we are the fools. Nostalgia was coming ahead of time with a note in hand: “Weren’t we all going to rent a house, be eternal neighbours and live near the beach?”

Alas! What would become of us without friends? They made me leave every unnecessary belongings behind as I packed my suitcase and thought of my next destination. With the dawn, the feeling of leaving already possessed me, giving signs of acceptance. I set up the farewell event on Facebook while making a to-do list: “close the bank account, clear the PPS number, have the last drink on the channel, take a cool photo of the evening at Ha’penny Bridge… The Cell Phone suddenly vibrated with a notification: “Ah, another dear person who will leave us, will be missed, I won’t be able to go to your farewell, because I have to work, fuck! But I’ll stop by to give you a hug, I’m sure we’ll meet yet.”

The tear ran down with a goodbye feeling. Thanks for the Guinness, Dublin!

Adriana Ribeiro is a poet, writer, and is currently developing a play “On The Edge”, which makes us reflect on fear and bureaucracy in society. She has a degree in Radio and TV in Brazil and is currently studying cinema in Dublin, where she’s been living since 2015. Has published her poems in the collection “Thirty Two Kilos [An Anthology Brazil-Irland], by Urutau publisher; and in the “FLARE” zines, organized by “The Sunflower Sessions.”

Translation by Paola Benevides | Cover image via Flickr.

[This chronicle was published in our first printed issue • “Connections Brazil & Ireland” • in Dec 2020]