Story Contest 2020 #1 Highly Commended »

Highly Commended Story - A World Without Borders

“A World Without Borders” by Temitayo Ifeoluwa Banjo, Superannica Writers’ Academy, Nigeria, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2020.

A World Without Borders

Zuri quickly licked the ice-cream before its first drip, it had begun to slump unsteadily to one side and there was nothing worse than losing an entire scoop to the dirty sidewalk. Zuri dawdled, looking at the walls filled with colourful graffiti. This part of the city would never be like the polished upper class neighbourhoods where Zuri lives now, but they had the best creamery on either side of the bridge and fine artwork spray painted every other day.

Perhaps one day she’d get a chance to translate her emotion into various shades and hues upon a white-washed wall at the place of her birth, unveiling the polaroid of her unspoken pain. She smirked at the idea; maybe next time she visited what used to be her neighbourhood she’d give it a go. In her daydream a drop of strawberry made it onto her t-shirt, with a finger she scooped it up. She frowned momentarily at the pink stain before spying at the depilated condo where she lived years ago with her family across the street.

The busy high streets, run-down alleys behind buildings and the local street food stalls awakened childhood memories. Echoes of those times she played on these streets with vibrancy and laughter frolicking with her older sister jarred her mind. Suddenly she’s forced to swim once more in the tide waters of her past, she walked down the lanes with the attitude of a soldier returning to the battlefield.

Zuri’s parents Jaali and Zumbeya moved to the United States without proper documentation in 2000 with their daughter Zima from a far country in East Africa with coastline on the Indian Ocean. They were unauthorised immigrant so getting a decent job was very difficult. For many years Jaali worked as a garbage man while Zumbeya was a house cleaner. She babysits for neighbours sometimes for $1:50.

Four years after Zuri was born, Zima got sick. She was in the hospital for many months and missed out of school. She was diagnosed with chronic leukaemia. From then on Jaali was never home. He worked several jobs to make enough money for Zima’s needle biopsy and treatments.

One night, Zima wanted lemonade, so Jaali went to the store to buy his daughter’s favourite drink. On the way out, he got in a frenzy with a white skinned man maybe of European descent who called Zima an ugly black ape. The man gave Jaali a punch when he reprimanded him. A fight broke out and the police came over. Jaali was arrested for assault and battery. He was handcuffed and taken away while his daughters watched from a distance, clutching each other and crying. That was the last time Jaali saw his daughters, as shortly thereafter he was deported to Kenya.

He attempted several times to return to the United States to be with his daughters. The second time, his smugglers abandoned him without food or water in Texas. He was apprehended, criminally prosecuted for illegal re-entry and imprisoned for 13 days. A lawyer told him this conviction made it almost impossible for him ever to get a US visa.

Zumbeya couldn’t survive the trauma of losing her daughter Zima who died a year after her husband; Jaali was deported. She lost her mind and was taken into a lunatic asylum. Jaali didn’t even get a chance to attend his daughter’s funeral. Zuri moved from one foster home to another until Mr and Mrs Clearence Clerk adopted her in 2014. At last Zuri found a home. She went on to grad school and earned a high grade point average. Thereafter, she got into law school. While in law school she became interested in working in the field of immigration. She began working at Yale’s Immigration Clinic, under the supervising attorney, James Wesley Peters.

During her time as an immigration lawyer, she buried herself in immigration law, learning case-by-case how unfair these laws could be. Now, at age 19 she started the Advocacy for Immigrants' Right; a movement of immigrants, activists and allies working to organize local and state-wide responses to inhumane international immigration policies. With more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries, they encourage just, civilized and comprehensive immigration reform.

Zuri sat by a dusty porch step, the view give her just the right words for her speech at the 4th Biennial Global Immigration advocacy Conference tomorrow. Her fingers began to tap at her tab screen; “There is a cult of narcissism in the human race, and there always has been. The whit of self-interest has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that building boarders, barricades and walls would keep us safe. Why can’t we weather the storms together as nature would have us do; either in a v formation like migrating birds or the Serengeti wildebeest in their clusters every year. We have chosen to be bound by national creeds and flags forgetting we are all part of the same ecosystem. We should transcend beyond all limitations and embrace living together in peace, no borders, no prejudice. There is a call for a regime of nearly complete freedom of migration worldwide, with rare exceptions for preventing terrorism or the spread of contagious disease. Borders would still exist in such a world, but as jurisdictional boundaries rather than as barriers to human movement. Ending migration controls in this way would increase liberty, reduce global poverty, and accelerate economic growth. But more fundamentally, it would challenge the right of governments to regulate migration on the arbitrary grounds of sovereignty.”

After many clicks and little thumps, Zuri was thankful for another chance to make the world a better place. Again, she stared at the souls on the street walls; her heart demanding a hearing, a chance to render the static of emotion into colours and form, into something that can speak her truth.

“We should transcend beyond all limitations and embrace living together in peace, no borders, no prejudice.”

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