9 months after…

 It has been a long time since my last post on this blog. Don’t worry; I am still well alive, for now. If I die you are not going to know anyways, since this blog is fairly anonymous and I am not a very famous person, despite my some 600 friends on Facebook.  

But well, after this atypical intro, let’s stop beating around the bushes here. Life has changed a bit since the last time. After extending my stay in the US for one more semester, I eventually came back home with the idea of staying in the family home for some two months maximum and then head to Madrid, or Barcelona, preferably.

Unexpectedly, a month after Christmas and without any search, I found a job in the industry sector in my small city. It’s a well-known and traditional (family) company in this area that is turning towards foreign trade and French-speaking countries in particular (after extensively exploring Latin-America).  So I have been working as an International trade assistant for six months now. And during this time, I have managed to search and find a nice apartment to rent, a spacious loft-attic at a-20 minutes walking distance from work. This means I am officially emancipated now, although I have been in and out of my family house for some 10 years, (since I left for university). I would live away during academic year and return home in summertime and some bank holidays. Most of those summers past while I was working to save some money for school. Some others went by with me travelling abroad to learn English. But this also means that I am a weird family member, because I have decided to live alone, without any understandable reason. My family does not quite understand why I, as a single adult, would want to live alone with no family member or partner. They find it weird. Especially since I am not married, nor have children and I am reaching thirty.

However,  I think this worldview is common to many Africans I have met, and also to many Spaniards, who are quite family-oriented amongst the more individualistic European mindset. I used to see it this way as well. But after enjoying some 7 years sharing flat while studying, living alone for one year in the US was enough to convince me that I was ready for this.  Also, I have become more and more introverted, silent and reflexive with the time, and I really enjoy quietness, silence and empty space in my bedroom. All of this is impossible in my family home. I share a small bedroom with my brother, who is not very clean or tidy,  in a 50m2 typical Spanish flat for working class people with 3 bedrooms for 7 people.  Of course, they suspect that I am a homosexual, but I never confirmed this. I wanted to have a totally self-sufficient and independent life before making it official. These two reasons made the cohabitation quite violent for me. I would spend most of my time out working, out with my friends or in my bedroom reading or procrastinating on my mobile phone. And each question about me marrying or finding a wife would make me react aggressively.  The only reliefs were my siblings, especially my 3-year- old sister who just lovely. My mother realized I was not happy, and let me go. The Saturday I was packing, she told me: “I wish you are happier now, because I have seen you very sad lately and life is not meant to be that way, you know. You should be happy”.  Of course, she knows me. She is the person I love the most in life, the person I owe everything to, and I am sad this social taboo had come to divide us so much. As for my father, this is a different story. My biological father died when I was less than a year. I have grown up with my stepfather, who has not been very close to me. He treated my differently, I think he never got to consider my as his own biological son, my brother. He was never really involved.  But at the same time, he’s the man I call dad, the only one I really know.

He is one of the most complex human beings I know. A nurse by profession, he is capable of extraordinarily humane actions towards his patients and acquaintances, but also of the most despicable actions towards his wife and family. Very sociable,  smart and adventurous.  My dad was not allowed to work as a nurse in Spain, instead he dad to work in many fields that would feed us and guarantee our legal status as immigrants. He would come home angry and very sensitive and quick to yell at you for the smallest things. He was fired several times, leaving with the task of being the main breadwinner for long periods of time. ( So far mum has being in dole one month in 20 years)

He is someone I am grateful to for adopting me, enraged with for not doing so wholeheartedly, and sad for because I know how hard it was for him to adapt to a new country and culture in which was considered just another low-skilled immigrant from Africa,  a country where women are legally equal and financially independent. This is something my brother sometimes fails to understand, but I guess he does not feel as grateful as I do, and did not really know dad when he was in his glory times back in Africa.

They eventually separated when he hit my mum for the last time. That time I intervened and separated them.  Mum called the police and he was arrested. I still remember my mum and I waiting for the police to come, standing in the parking lot under the eyes of some neighbors staring pityingly at us. She later dropped the charges under pressures from fellow countrymen, but that was the last the straw that broke the camel’s back. They separated, she bought her house’s part and he left to rent by his own. Ever since, he’s continued to being even less involved in our lives. I have seen him not more than 5 times. Our relationship has being even weirder. I still try to understand him. I still feel betrayed when every time I visit him for any important event, people around him don’t know about my existence, but at times he brags loudly to others about my university degrees and achievements when it suits him,  I still resent him for not letting us completely alone but missing all the important moments of our daily lives. No accountability, no responsibility, but wants the power to appear all of the sudden and turn your life upside down, influence it and remind you that he is your father, make you smile and say how much he loves you. Currently, after spending all the millions he was given from his mortgage part, he is living in France, and once in a while he calls us for money. I never thought I would have to send remittances to Europe instead of Africa, and to my father. But this life is unpredictable. I don’t know whether to ignore him, to help him or what to do. For now, I try to keep an eye on him. I sent him money twice, when I thought he really needed it.  But I don’t want to make it a habit. He can still work, although he has been acutely seek recently, and looks quite tired now. We had to travel urgently to France because he was under coma. Fortunately, he is well alive as me. He keeps calling and making the same jokes, and- oh surprise- now asked me about marriage at grandchildren. ¡Another one!

So yes, people. I have moved but still carry the family story with me. I have learned it does not matter where you go, your deeper issues travel with you.

But I feel the right moment has arrived. I have been dating a Spanish guy for a time. Last Monday was  our first anniversary. My grandma is back to her country. Everybody is in good health and working again (Dad does not count). The Spanish economic crisis is reversing.  Maybe they should know that they son, “the teacher” as they call me, is gay. Not that it’s a complete surprise, but let’s try it. First,  mum and my hermanito. Then,  the rest.

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Breve actualización en verano norteño/Short update from northen Summertime

Releyendo el última entrada me doy cuenta de que os hablaba de mi deseo de volver a casa y de las evaluaciones.

 

2014-09-17 14.38.30.jpg

Pues bien, ya estoy en casa. Volví a España a las 2 semanas de terminar mis clases y poner la última nota en el sistema informático interno. Y sí, como me suponía, el segundo semestre fue infinitamente mejor. Pude terminar todo el temario, me organicé mejor, y además hicimos muchas más actividades con los alumnos.

En cuanto a las evaluaciones, fueron mucho mejores. Alguno se quejó de la cantidad de trabajo, pese a que fui mucho más benevolente que el semestre anterior, pero no hubo comparación. Tuve un caso delicado de acoso estudiantil que me dejó trastocado, pero bueno. Y en mitad de mis vuelos de regreso a Spain, sorpresa…. Me llaman 20 veces y me escriben un correo electrónico para ofrecerme volver a la misma universidad con mejores condiciones. Una auténtica sorpresa! Tras dos semanas de negociaciones, decidí volver, para ahorrar un poco; y porque en España no encontraba más que ofertas para hostelería y comercial (en fin).

Así que amigos, la aventura estadounidense continúa…

De mientras, estoy trabajando en la tienda de siempre, pocas horas, mucha familia y algo de fiesta y playa… ¿Qué más le puedo pedir a la vida?

IN ENGLISH

After reading my last post I noticed I was talking about how much I missed home and also the students evaluations.

Well, I came back to Spain two weeks after I entered my last grade to the system. Eventually I was able to finish my program and do more activities with my students. We sand less, saddly, but I hope they did learn. I was very happy with my 101 class.

As for their final evaluations, they went very well. Much much better than the previous semester, although there will always be those who complain. I also experienced my first case of  one of my students being harrassed and bullied. I was horrified. And halfway back home, still in my stopover in London (UK), I saw more than 20 lost calls and an email from my university offering me to stay longer with better conditions! What a surprise…

 

After weeks of negociations, I accepted because I had not found any better in Spain (unfortunately).

And right now I am in my home city, working in the same shop, with sufficient free time to spend it with family, family, and some fiesta and playa (party and beach). What else could I expect?

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

It won’t bring me down!

 

Zorroza

Bilbao by day

First of all, I would like to thank you people, who share my thoughts and experiences far beyond Spain. Above all, I write this because I think that us, the African Diaspora in the world, we should unite and share ideas and experiences in order to improve our situation where we live and, and therefore, where we come from.

Yes, I’m kind of Pan-Africanist. Viva Nkwane Krumah!

Secondly I would like to give you some quick insight on my Spanish daily life today.

This week I’ve been studying African History at University, and can see that even in the academic world, people still think of African people as children they can patronize; they look at this continent as a chaos that can hardly stand over its feet. It’s sad and dreadful. But, they won’t bring me down.

I have decided to drop off one of my small jobs at the end of May, because I need to focus on my university papers and final exams. People would say that, it’s a privilege I should not take, specially bearing in mind the current figures about unemployment rate in this beloved country. Newspapers report today that we have reached more than 6 million people in dole. It’s scaring!

It’s scaring for young people who are graduating along these years. They say that, for the first time ever, Spanish population has decreased. More than 200 thousands people flew away last year. And immigrants are returning home, especially those from Ecuador. But also, many people who chose to settle in Spain years ago, are re-emigrating to other European countries such as France, Germany or Norway– and of course the UK.

I can swear that in these recent years I have seen so many African people leaving Spain for France or Belgium that I’m not really surprised of these figures. From my inner circle, 5/12 people of my relatives have moved to France. Only those who were really ‘rooted’ here remain.

 

In a broader scale, many immigrants, mostly from Latin American countries, get the nationality and then move to another country taking profit as their new status as European citizens. Such is life down here. And you would read comment of Spaniards complaining about this. I can’t understand their point.

From the recent national census, I have also learned that from the overall 5.5 million foreign people who live in Spain, non-European citizens are over 60%, that’s to say, more than 3 million people. From these people, African descents are still the smallest group, and we are highly represented by Moroccans.

So, some people who ask why I leave my job within this context… Well: I’m gonna be double-graduated in a few months. I have managed to study away from home by taking 4 small jobs, the so-called “minijobs”. They pay very little, so I have had to work as an English teacher for almost illiterate adults (3hours/week) and as an extra-curricular activity for school kids (3 hours/week) or as an occasional interpreter-translator (hardly)… And I volunteer as a Spanish teacher for foreigners, that’s my non-profit contribution to the community.  That’s to say: 6-7 hours/ week. And I should be grateful, they say, as I got a job and I do not have to beg for charity. Well, all I see is that taking these jobs was a way to pay my bills while living and studying out of home. Done. I needed to discharge my mum.  She’s done enough. All I see is that I have accomplished my part of the deal, I was the best student of my High-school class, I successfully finished a University degree, I managed to learn a new foreign language more or less– to enhance my possibilities in the labour market, but all I can do is to accept jobs like these to survive or  leave, as many friends of mine do. My best Spanish friend has just accepted an offer to work as an Engineer in Italy. There is no job in the construction sector here, no more.  It’s sad, indeed.

Imagen

Barcelona by dawn

But, I also think that we should be able to keep our expectations high. I’ve been in more than 10 different jobs during my short life; I worked as a basketball referee, as a private lessons teacher(Philosophy and History), a trainee journalist, a trainee translator, an Interpreter, a French teacher, English Teacher , Spanish Teacher, shop retailer, and so on.

From now on, I can keep on studying, which is maybe one of the best things to do in a short term, but I don’t see the need to get a doctorate nowadays apart from being a university teacher…  I can also start working as a freelance journalist-translator meanwhile I decide if I wanna be a teacher of Spanish abroad or French teacher in a State funded Secondary School, in order words: a civil servant. Being a graduate civil servant still worth it, they pay well enough to live above the average, but we don’t know how long this will be possible, due to the tough economic crisis and the more than likely future bailout of the country’s economy. I’m happy I could prepare myself to work in so many professions and in different countries. I never imagined languages would be so crucial in my life.

As you can see, Spain today is difficult. But, as I always say, they won’t bring me down!

PS: If it doesn’t work as it should, then I may announce you my emigration process in a year. Who knows?