What You Do When You’re Alive Matters

(Leaf green pottery)

Her clothes were torn apart. Her face and her hands were scratched, bruised, and painted with blood. She was dragging her handbag like a stuffed dog on a leash. Her tears dried dirty and her voice was coming back from death, harsh, inflicting pain in her own thoughts. Nobody ran to help her. Nobody offered her support or at least a glass of water. It was like no one around was still alive.

The police officer sitting at the Reception desk looked up, still holding on his paperwork.

-I was raped.

The silence fell on restless ears.


-I was raped, she screamed and started sobbing.

-By whom, mam?

-A black man… tall, young, no more than twenty-five. The type obsessed with muscles and going to the gym.

-Wait a minute, wait a minute! You can come here and spread your racism all over us, mam.

Then he addressed to his audience.

-For every white, privileged woman it is always a black guy to blame. White men can do no wrong. Joe, please fine this lady for insulting us. It will be one hundred bucks, mam.

The woman was fighting to find words. Finally, she gave up, took out the money from her handbag and pushed them toward the younger officer, the one called Joe.

-I was raped by a man of colour.

-I’m afraid we don’t use that word either, mam. Joe, fine her another hundred bucks. Our lives matter as much as yours, lady! Maybe we’re black but our souls are white.

-You just said black, officer, whispered the woman, not afraid to look him in the eye.

-I’m a coloured man and I’m allowed to say I’m black too, but you’re not, mam.

-All right, I was raped by a coloured man. It is politically correct now, officer?

-I am sorry, mam, but with all that’s happening around the world right now, it will be the wrong message to send to the young generation. I’m sure you understand. Could have been a white man, mam?

-Nooo! I was raped by a young, cruel, coloured man.

-You keep spreading the same lie, mam, I feel compelled to keep you in here overnight. A good night sleep does wonders sometimes. Maybe you’ll remember exactly what happened.

The woman turned around and stepped out of the precinct.

-Women will do anything for a bit of attention, joked the officer. If she was telling the truth she would have fought me like a mad cat. All of them think they’ve been raped. This one just wanted to cause trouble. I’m not a racist.

He pointed out at the others in the room:

-You are not a racist! You are not a racist! We are not racists!

Outside, in the cold, the woman fell in the arms of an older lady, who intended to press charges against her crazy neighbour, who was stealing her flower pots. Instead, she took the younger women to the closest hospital.

-What happened, asked the doctor, helping her to lay on a bed.

-Earlier this evening, I’ve raped an innocent, coloured man.

-Is he all right, mam? Is he still alive? Maybe he needs help, mam, we’ll need to call the Police…