by Clara Sheridan Bryson (age 16, Wicklow)
You have the right to a name, and this should be officially recognised by the government. You have the right to a nationality (to belong to a country).
I study the hordes of people as they skim through the airport scanners.
Beep, beep, beep.
“Go ahead, go ahead, go ahead,” bored looking, drab uniformed employees drone, chewing gum dying a slow, horrible death in their mouths.
They’re checking numbers, codes. But behind those numbers, there are names.
Real, human names.
The promenade. A name.
All the sea has a name this is burrowing like a maggot into your head, rooting out and baring raw, that single feature You. Don’t. Have.
There’s these people they ship in from who knows where; far away. They’ve been uprooted, had to run from things that are destroying them, ripping their lives apart like a swarm of angry ants. (The swathes of people milling through the airport greatly resemble a similar thing, I observe.)
So these people come over, land on deserted beaches, shake sand from their eyes. Behind those same eyes, treacherous waves still loom, crashing out in the tears that will inevitably sting their eyes when the power-riddled get here, and look them in the face, cold-dead-fish orbs unseeing of these people’s humanity, their pain as they say softly:
“You have no codes. Get out.”
And those same people, they have names, they do.
Of course they do.
But it’s as if their names get whisked away on a gust of wind, pulled away from them in the swelling oceans. As if they get here and we no longer see their names. As if we look straight through them.
No space, no space, no space.
So, I ask the leaders, the lawmakers, the fate-deciders of our country, just where is it that they think there’s enough space for these people?
Out among the breaking waves?
In the small gaps between mountains of crashing water?
A constant shape-shifting death chamber, that sea is.
(In the time I’ve been sitting in the departure lounge, countless children have wandered away from their luggage, toddlers unaware of their own sneaking away to stare glassy eyed at distant planes. And you know what brings them scuttling back, away from the towering tree-trunk legs and unsuspecting hands that aren’t-the-right-ones-to-grab ? Their names. Parents hollering across buzzing crowds, clicking wheels, and the insistent drone of “please hold the handrail”.
Then picture this. No one to call their name. No name, to call, even. Where would we be if we didn’t have a name for people to distinguish us with? Names to ground us, to bring us scuttling back. Names to recognise us as individuals.)
That is why we have to see the names, not the numbers, statistics, codes, or lack thereof.
See the people.
Their names, their identities may get lost in the waters on their way here, but please, please don’t let their lives be taken too.
You have the right to a name, and this should be officially recognised by the government. You have the right to a nationality (to belong to a country)