I am one more. In this place it doesn’t matter who you are, what status you have, what you do in your life, how much money you own or who you are related to. At least, not now. In this waiting room what link us together is what we don’t have: a birth place or a nationality that allow us to arrive freely to a Schengen country.
I’m here since eleven am, actually 11h08, seven minutes late to the expected fifteen minutes early arrival time before the appointment. Since then, now being 13h24, the air conditioner still is not running.
I see people like me, and also people unlike me with friends or children, talking, crying, jumping, all stoic humans sitting on the fake black leather chairs, waiting. Anxiety is around us, specially stirred by the female voice of the machine that calls our name: TICKET ONE CERO ONE NINE PLEASE GO TO THE COUNTER NUMBER TWO.
What brought us here is unknown. I mean, it could have been any possibility. But one can tick in a box and choose: Tourism, Business, Visiting friends or family, Cultural, Sports, Official Visit, Medical Reasons, Study, Transit, Airport Transit, Other (specify reason).
I don’t know what they would say if I tick Other and I explain that I am feeling lonely in London. That I am traveling because I miss my brother who I haven’t seen since November, and I want to spend as much time as I can with him.
I don’t know if they would understand how hard it was for me to answer the question “How many days you are expecting the applicant?” (this addressed to the inviting person, my brother), because I really wanted to write down “Any time she wants”… Knowingly that this could have not worked, I placed “at least five days”.
This is sad place. Yes, the geopolitics of nations, the economy, the imagined borders of maps and the distinctions they altogether create are materialized here. What is lost, is the time, the illusions and hopes that brought us here.
Also, the queuing for the photocopy machine, the copies, the photograph booth, the filling of the white and black application forms, the burden of the “correct” answers, the load of mistakes, the repetition of writing down family name, nationality, ID number.
The place is surrounded by beautiful landscape pictures of the Netherlands, Island, Spain, Italy, Dubai (?). The people in white and blue uniform of the counters order: please place your four fingers of your right hand in the machine (biometric machine), now place your other hand fingers, now your two thumbs… Oh no, we now don’t need your 10 pound photographs we’ll take one here… please agree and sign, the embassy will take your passport. Now, please pay.
As a rite of passage, at a given moment you’re sent free. From now on, the weight of your status, how much money or capital its inscribed in your bank account, your occupation, who are you related to, and perhaps who you are will count for be given a visa to Europe.
After six hours on my way back, I remember I walked through an old path via the place, and I saw a stained cat, white and gray with green eyes. I didn’t hesitated and I placed my hand near to her nose. She smelled it, and let me pet her.