Lin was born in the Philippines and misses her country every day. She left more than fifteen years ago, after successive natural disasters, for Kuwait in the Middle East, a "very rich country", as she is keen the country", as he is keen to point out.
She left also because she wanted to separate from her husband, she left in search of a less difficult life. In short, she left to find a better job. She began by working as a manicurist, now taking care of children and a house looking after children and a home, a family. To take care really, as I have seen few people do so well. She has lived in Madrid with her second family for more than four years. And she is very grateful to them for everything they do for her life, and the visa she has in Portugal. For the possible return, in a short trip to the Philippines.
Between the departures and returns that we are made of, I worked with Lin for a month. During that time of routine, I learned a lot from her few wise words. I learned from her "don't do like this" constant efficiency. I learned that "no problem, no problem". For a month, I had dinner with Lin a few times, at least those quiet dinners, the few were good conversations called for time. I had dinner and conversation, and I learned from her silence too.
I admired her story, her strength, her will, and the smile that escapes when the heart allows it. I admired the continuity of longing, of Asia, of rice at every meal, of and I admired the continuity of longing, of Asia, of rice at every meal, of a quieter environment, where he says he doesn't shout. And of a distant country, of a family, you don't forget. With Lin, I realized that it wasn't today, nor in the early 2000s that people started to leave their families to seek less difficult lives. When I told Lin the number of sixty-eight million displaced people in the world today, she said "before, before..." It was not after the World Wars, not even during the discussed Refugee Crisis.
Lin, who has crossed almost an entire continent, answered me that "before, before..." Many others did it by boat from India, Cambodia, and the world, in short. I wish I could thank Lin for what she taught me in such a short time, a long and demanding time but worthwhile in its simplicity. was worth it in its simplicity. I believe that for Lin the time seems even longer, the size of the oceans, the size of the longing.
I just noticed that Lin takes the children in her arms and stops both of them from crying, that she doesn't like to cook, but she makes dishes with spices and smells of all colors. I notice that she is tired sometimes, but she rarely complains. And I notice, finally, that the strength of some human beings does not have anything to do with size, no size of countries or borders, the size of longing, or of time.
It is perhaps the size of a tired smile, of a heart filled with beautiful light. In the light at the end of dinner, Lin asked me "do you drink wine?". Confused by the question I said yes, sometimes yes. In a tone of promise, she then stated that "if we have a day off together, we will eat together, and drink some wine". I looked again at the light of Lin's smile and realized that she was going without fear, she didn't give up, she kept going. I was continuing through the strength I have learned to know how to look at the strength of small great joys.
I found it on a day when we read that the best childhoods last for decades. And we read so many stories, with such beautiful images, with happy endings, and it was always one time. And again, and again, because when we are children nothing has an end. We read that in the stories everything was already here. Everything here and now. Everything was alive, immensely alive.
In the stories we were together, making little rows in the sea, getting our hands dirty with sand and earth. In stories and life. In life we were in front of things, they were real, they had smelt and had color. In life, we still remember all those smells, and still colors. There was a day when we sat on the table, Chinese style, and painted, painted without end. In that drawing was the world and underneath it, whether stones or paper, there was no way for the paints to disappear.
Everything was there, exact, alive, even if sometimes confused and full of scribbles. It takes time to know how to hold the brush well. In life it takes time, we run downhill until we skin our knees and cry. Only the bruises change color. How beautiful even the wounds, how beautiful is also the pain. Because in stories everything is always all right, however many jumps are made on the trampoline. On the trampoline and in the pool, in the sea, and the tall fields of the garden. We were so tiny we would hide and run endlessly. "One, two, three, save them all."
In stories, everyone is saved, but in life, some don't get to play in time. They grow slower or faster, with more or less fear, which is also part of the story, although sometimes joy hides. Small great joys, small great houses where the heart lives, in whatever way. Small big dreams, of change, of growth, of immense adventure. Little big setbacks, which are not easy to understand when you are a child. Little big tantrums, rebellions, tears, and hugs at the end. In stories, when we go to bed, everything is always all right, and sometimes in life too.
Little big longings, huge longings, every day, for genuine joy, for simplicity. In life, we bring it with us, and just as well because there is a country where it is always daytime. And in it things are clear, they have a light of all colors. Like the laughter, when we were children.