Islamabad scareport. Part 3. A true story.

“Good Morning” says the security guard as I am ordered to stand against the wall. It’s 2.15am He  glowers at me. He speaks with a menacing undertone . He does what the others did.  He acts like I haven’t answered properly.  Disorientation. “Here in Pakistan this is how we do things” he says I can barely hear him.  I’m bending forward watching his eyes. I’m calculating what could happen to me in here. I stay calm.

“you must take shit in corner” he said. I’d already worked that out. I looked down to where he’d pointed and thought  Hey guys  if you want me to take a shit then happy days are here again.  I’m taking a shit. There’s two things can relieve stress a good dump or a bottle of water and I already wanted both. I start to undo my belt. “no no no no” the security guards say.  Were they  messing with my head.  He explains “No. I am going to probe your stomach.”

I latch my belt  and the guard instructs “raise jumper” I rolled it up exposing my stomach and chest. I comply.   “Higher”  he says. Then “Show tongue”.   All to check if I’d swallowed drugs.  He stands in front of me,  raises his fists and both  hands draw towards my midriff.  He  probes my stomach, slowly and deeply. This is intense.  It’s 2am.  His fingers are fishing through the bile, squeezing my intestines. He takes ten minutes. He stops and starts again at different parts of my stomach area.  My back touches the wall.  And all I could think was  now is not the time flatulation.

After this surreal fingering I’m instructed to pull down my jumper. “Why am I in Islamabad”. I realize I’m in the newspaper so I pull out the article from my shoulder bag. It’s the Tribune. And I show him the picture on the masthead.  It’s a smug writerly vain anti-vain shot.  He passes me the passport then shakes my hand.

Sherlock has already left  and I’m instructed to do the same. The Lima and the Meerkat slink away. The two civillians disintegrate into thin air and the tall stomach prober becomes a willow tree.   I’m outside the door collecting my bags.  And everything seems normal. It’s as if none of this had happened.

I’m in the final queue at the top of the right hand column of the U the final hurdle of this horrific fifty yards sojourn into the airport.   I’m tired and worried that the adrenaline leaving my body would leave me looking like I had swallowed drugs.  A young man scurries past in airport uniform.  I ask him if there’s a route for business class – I know there isn’t.  Immediately he takes control and  my bags and he skims me past the queue through the metal detector – again I am stopped  for a final but cursory baggage check – onwards onwards to check-in where I was given my boarding pass and he left.  I gave him 2,000 rupees. I didn’t care. I should have given him more.

I ascended the steps into the Emirates airport lounge but I couldn’t sit down. I was a suspect. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that. I knew it for myself now.  And now I could see it  everywhere. Sidelong glances.  And there something strange happened.  I lost my ticket.  And then found it. And then ;ost it again and then found it again . And lost it again.  So I  unpack my shoulder bag. I  go  through every pocket and every pocket in my clothes not there, not there no there. Then  I asked  the receptionist if he’d seen it.  I search the airport lounge. And then I find it  in my pocket. I can’t seem to concentrate on where I put it last? I can’t concentrate at all.

Within thirty minutes I was on the plane. But I lost my ticket stub. I sat  down in the wrong seat because I think the woman sat next to me has taken mine and I can’t ask her to move because I can’t properly communicate without thinking my panic has returned. So I don’t. I can’t speak.  The air steward keeps thinking I have the name of the woman sat next to me. My belt isn’t properly tied. I’m sweating. I look like a terrorist. I feel like a terrorist.

The vegetarian meal is hers. It’s not mine. It’s hers.  I keep thinking I’v lost my ticket stub.  But  what if I lost my ticket for the next part of the journey from Dubai to London. Too tired to think.  If I lost my ticket they wouldn’t let me on that plane. Where’s my ticket.  It’s in my bag. I feel wrong. I need to sleep.  I put my headphones on.  I take them off.  I put them on again. I take them off again.  As I put them on the pilot cut through a shock of white noise “ladies and gentlemen please stay calm. This plane is gong to be searched. We will not be leaving for some time”. Now my imagination really was playing tricks and I fell  into an uneasy slumber as the plane tilted into the night sky.

The End

Send me a comment  or click facebook like or ShareThis buttons. Thankyou for reading me.  Lemn Sissay ©  See all the Scareport installments in bog

14 thoughts on “Islamabad scareport. Part 3. A true story.

  1. Thanks man. I could have thrown in a few laughs though couldn’t I. When I asked me to pull out my tongue I was going to reply “yes doctor”. And then when he said he was going to probe my stomach I was going to ask if I could take a shit first. Ha.

    Thanks man.


  2. When I saw the title of this post, I knew I had to read it cos I’d just flown into Moscow from London [with a Nigerian passport]. My treatment was no less worse, I just didn’t have the tongue bit but I was accused of being a drug smuggler and was checked for hours by these security guys planted everywhere. I smiled, but that made it worse. He really is fake, they said. Worse bit was when they said I am not the guy in my passport.

    Cheers Lemn

  3. Shameful is all I can say. If you were not in the paper, I hate to imagine what else may have happened. I think there is racism to your story too. I once was checked when flying out of the US – pulled out of line by huge police. All my luggage and passport was marked with yellow florescent stickers. I was marked. One begins to feel like a criminal because you are being treated like one. I was mad as hell and complained orally and in writing everywhere I could.
    You exercised the only thing that works – self control and confidence that you will get out of the situation.
    They may have evoked ugly memories but they can never change who you are – a bloody good poet.

  4. Oh Lemn! I am so sorry for your treatment. It had to be harrowing. Can I pretend for a minute to be your mother and give you a warm, enveloping hug? My daughter was taken from me because I was unmarried just as you were separated from your mother.
    I’m so sorry you were mistreated and think you were very brave to go help the students.

  5. This is nothing compared to what we Pakistanis have to face on your airports!!! I hope they do it a bit more, this seems lesser torture!

    • Harris, they are not my airports. I am aware of the disgusting treatment pakistanis undergo at airports around the world, especially here in England and America. . You say “I hope they do it a bit more”. That’s sad. NAd then you say “this seems a lesser torture”. Are you really thinking that one torture is better or worse than another. There should be no torture at all. I urge you to blog about the bad experiences at airports wherever they may be.

      • Well , international diplomacy works like that, what you do to the others, same is expected from them too but I am sorry you had to go through it because the UK and US should mend their ways!! I hope you have a pleasant trip next time

  6. Instead of writing this article, you should write to your home department and tell them to treat others right for others to treat you right!

  7. I am really sorry you had to go through that. Its shameful on part of our Airport security, this happened to you in my home country and for that I would really like to apologize to you.

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