Freedom from Torture - Damp by Aso

Damp by Aso

Write to Life says:

To support the launch of Freedom from Torture’s 2013 report, The Poverty Barrier, looking at how poverty acts as a barrier to recovery for torture survivors, Write to Life and other clients produced an anthology of personal stories, one for each letter of the alphabet. These, alongside relevant excerpts from the Report, were turned into a print publication and a video, in which those of the group who felt able to appear on camera recited their own pieces, linked with gorgeous images of London and with music. The video was launched alongside the Report in Parliament in December 2015. The three tiers of evidence, from the forensic research to the personal stories to the stunning, straight to camera delivery of the video, proved a powerful combination. You can find the A-Z of Poverty here.

Aso writes:

My piece in An A-Z of Poverty was called Damp, which referred to different things like my damp house, environment, memory and my damp relationship. Usually the word of ‘damp’ is used for physical objects, but in this piece, as an asylum seeker I used damp as metaphor for abstract things like loneliness and dark memories. Since I wrote this piece, things have changed: I got out from that damp house and am no longer seeking asylum. However, sometimes in different ways mourning comes back and settles into my home and my brain. So, now when I read the piece, I feel damp as the dark side of life has a power to appear and catch you. There are things that can help remove shadow and dry out the soul from that damp, like the Write to Life group, which helps protect you from loneliness and from a bad and painful past.

Damp by Aso

D is for Damp is noun, a verb, a state of mind. I am an asylum seeker. I come from a dry land which has a long hot summer, where most of the time the sun is lying in the middle of the sky and burns the earth. I come from a hot land where everything is warm and dry. The air, relationships, hot blood: but freedom there is cold.

I am an asylum seeker; I came from a dry land to here, a damp house and a wet climate, where most of the time the sun sleeps and hides itself in the clouds and the air is always wet. There are frequent showers, damp rooms, cold relationships, misty landscapes and a lonely wait - but warm freedom. There is not much difference between outside and inside in my life. Outside is freezing, there is nobody to talk to, everyone is in a hurry, getting on with his or her life. Inside the house, I stare at damp walls. The air is as cold as my loneliness. The damp hurts my bones and my back, and I am always in pain.

Inside of me a war and a bitter past; the images of my friends and family when I left them. Dark memories of personal pain and suffering. I am an asylum seeker, all my life is damp, past and present, physically and mentally.

It’s damp inside my brain, as it is damp inside my room, so I am unenthusiastic about everything: my solicitor, translator, landlord, my neighbours who never like me, my immigration officer, even the postman who never brings me sunshine.

But one thing I have heard is that when you get ‘leave to remain’, the damp starts to seep from the walls.

Explore other stories from the A-Z of Poverty here.

All accompanying art for Write to Life’s 20 pieces for Refugee Week is by members of the Open Art Studio group at Freedom from Torture.



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