by Paolo Copparoni, translated into English by Ruth Stephens
Chapter 4 – Journey’s End
Because of the long queues of traffic caused by the demonstration, it is almost two hours before they arrive at the company apartment, where Marco will finally be able to shower and rest.
The apartment is on the first floor of a building a few hundred metres from the company’s premises. It’s large and spacious.
Awaiting Marco inside is Amir, a young Libyan who will be his flatmate.
Marco is tired from his journey and goes straight to bed, so there is no time for them to do more than greet each other briefly.
The next day begins very early for Marco, with the alarm waking him at 6 a.m. There’s just time to prepare a coffee before he has to meet Nassyr at the company’s offices, where he will be introduced to the people he will be working with.
In front of the entrance to the company building are armed guards. As Marco passes through the security checks, he hears Nassyr’s voice behind him.
“Good morning, Marco, how are you? Did you sleep well?
Come on, I’ll introduce you to the others.
Today we start work!”
Although his new colleagues all seem friendly and welcoming, Marco gets the impression that they are not well-motivated. Perhaps they find their work tiring or monotonous? The job is not, in itself, particularly difficult but the intense heat makes everything harder.
The working day starts early, at 6.30 and finishes at 2.30 when the temperature is at its height.
This suits Marco very well as, unlike in Milan, he now has plenty of free time, which he spends with his colleague and flatmate, Amir. The two quickly become friends.
Amir is from a small village not very far from the capital. He’s the son of a rich local trader and has only recently started working for the company. Before that, he spent a year in England where he lived with an uncle, so he speaks very good English, unlike most of the other workers who know only a few words.
Marco finds him lively and good fun to be with. They often go into the city together at weekends. Amir teaches Marco a lot about Libyan culture, but will never talk about the current political situation, refusing to answer his Italian friend’s questions.
Amir’s reluctance to reveal his political opinions strikes Marco as rather odd, considering how interested his fried seems to be in everything happening around him…