Yesterday my wife and I experienced another kafkaesque moment. As I explain in a previous post the term kafkaesque is a literary description of a work that has a similar feel to that of a work by the writer Franz Kafka. His works give the reader a surreal feeling of subtle terror. He does this by throwing his characters into situations where they are confronted with unacceptable or unreasonable circumstances. The reader is forced to accept the unacceptable because of the nonchalant way the characters including even the protagonist accept the situation. For instance being transformed overnight with no explanation into a giant bug. Or being placed under arrest but refused the right to know under what charge or who is bringing the charge against you.
Every Monday and Friday morning I teach an English class to a young man from the republic of Guinea. I always now carry my documents in my back pocket for easy access if I’m about to be arrested. It’s a good thing I did too because that Monday morning ‘Control of Foreigners’ was in full swing. Often just called ‘Control’ the measures which include checkpoints and random vehicle searches are thought to prevent anti-terrorist activity. This particular ‘Control’ has everyone confused, as Chinese who are not usually targeted and even natives are being stopped and questioned. Anyways we arrived at our location without being stopped by the police. However when we stepped out of the car we noticed people being questioned some already wearing handcuffs. My pupil had a worried look on his face as he peered through the crack of his iron door. We were ushered in and he began bolting the door. Just as he secured the first bolt, someone began kicking the door and shouting.
“Open the door! If you don’t open we’re going to break it down!”
This, by the way is unusual as home invasions are rare. But as I said before this particular Control is unusual. As far as we could tell anything was on the table. Even home raids. Nevertheless after a few tense minutes the police drove away with the ‘suspects’ they had arrested. Considering all that had just happened (it was my students cousin they had arrested) I wasn’t sure if he was up to having the lesson. Who am I kidding? I wasn’t sure if I was up to giving the lesson. But my student pulled out his chalkboard and secured it to the wall. Minutes later we were practicing the unique English ‘R’ sound which is difficult for many French speakers. After the hour long lesson my student changed his mind and decided to open his store. He had resolved to stay closed all day but his customers wouldn’t hear of it. They showed up and chided him for being a coward. They acted as if the morning events were no big deal. I would describe the entire event as another kafkaesque moment.
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