The ancient office chair I am sitting on is hard and uncomfortable. I keep switching positions uncomfortably. The woman sitting behind the desk has a stoic and drawn look to her face. She is frowning intently and her eyes seem to be boring holes so deep into my chest that I can actually feel it stinging my soul. She disapproves. I feel like a robber holding up my own bank.
It finally becomes apparent to her that I am not going anywhere so with a loud, exhaustive sigh she carefully opens the manila folder she holds in her hands. It is worn and yellowed with age. She peers at the contents.
She skims the surface of the words at first but then, drawn in by what she reads her eyebrows raise and a look of surprise spreads across her face. I slide to the edge of my seat anxiously awaiting information like a starving dog waiting for a juicy bone. The minutes feel like hours. Tick. Tick. Tick.
After carefully reading the entire contents of the thick, worn folder she slowly closes it and places it on the desk. She folds her hands into a gesture of prayer over the top of the folder as if to protect the contents from somehow escaping her hawk like clutch.
She begins to speak;
“The town that you come from is lovely, I know it well.”
Quiet thought. Where do I come from?
“Your mother has a very beautiful and rare name.”
Unique names begin to scroll across my eyes at lightening speed. It temporarily blinds me.
“She named you but I cannot tell you what your name is.”
This almost makes me laugh out loud. Almost.
“Your father chose a very noble profession. Something happened to him. Not good. No, not good at all. We’ll just have to leave it at that.”
What happened to him? Is he alive? Dead? In prison? What happened to my father?!
“You have siblings. Boys or girls unfortunately I cannot say.”
The significance of having brothers and/or sisters hits me like a ton of bricks. It makes my chest heave. I feel myself momentarily stop breathing. It physically hurts.
“Your nationality is somewhat identifying so even though your skin is olive we will just call you white. White, being neutral, allows us to make your true nationality of no consequence.”
Apparently she believes it will also be of no consequence to my children.
“This is all I can tell you about your life.”
Even though my folder is two inches thick this is all she offers me. A lick of the bone for a starving dog. Then she stands and simply walks away with my history in her hands. I cannot move a single muscle.
I think how ironic it is that a ten dollar an hour office clerk will go home this evening knowing more about MY identity than I do.
Then I woke up and realized ……….it was no dream.
That’ll teach me not to eat cabbage rolls right before bedtime!