If you are interested in seeing how all of this mess got started, please head over to the HOMEPAGE and from there you can check out the whole of the Being Had Blog group.
So, here is the news. I have just had two meetings with the police and the passport people and as of the moment here is the story:
1. I am not going to be deported. This is good news because deportation is sort of a permanent thing and these folks do not seem to think that my being here on an expired visa is too big of a deal.
2. I will have to pay a small fine, Tatyana will as well. But it is not so much money that we will be killed for having to pay it.
3. The passport agency will give me a transport visa, which will enable me to leave without problems at the border. This visa though will only be good for three days from the time that I get it, which I understand will be in something like 10 days or so. And
4. At that time, I will have several days to either find another visa and come back, or to be gone.
So how is that for saying it straight?
Now this is better than being tossed out because being tossed would mean not being able to come back at all. However, this still does not alleviate the money problem which was at the root of my staying here without paying for those visas in the first place. And, along with that money problem is the ‘choice’ which now returns to me as to whether or not I can stay here. And that is what all of this is and has been all about.
There was a time, about a year ago when I thought I was returning to the states. In fact, I made it as far as the Netherlands before returning. The problem at that time was money as well and the decision to come back and try to make another go at it was- well, it was the choice that was made, but it was also a choice that did not anticipate a little girl named Anya coming around. I am sure that at the time I felt secure in what I was doing. But things like having children have a way of changing things. Funny how that worked out.
I tried several times today to get through to the cops and the passport people that I am not a criminal here but a victim of economic circumstance. I trid to say to them that though I did stay illegally and that being a wetback is in fact against the law, but I am not a rapist, a thief, a drug dealer or an illegal business or contraband guy. I am not in fact any sort of public nuisance in any way except in the fac6t that I stopped paid several hundred dollars a month for visas. And that I have spent all of my time here trying to sell articles and working on the farm trying to feed Anya and Tanya. I am not sure how trying to take care of somebody is a crime but it is amazing how much I have had to go through to do just that.
A lot of my conversation time with the cops today reflected this. The first guy I talked to was the cop who had made the original report. I talked to him briefly yesterday and he had told me at the time that I would need to sign a document about what had happened and that that document states that I would have three days to reregister after signing it.
Now this made my heart jump because this same cop had told me two weeks ago that what I had to look forward to was simply being deported and that the process would take about 60 days more or less, so this is what I had prepared for. Now though, they were trying to get me to sign this document that basically said I had all of THREE DAYS (!) do get my shit together which, if you know the visa bureaucracy of Belarus, if simply impossible. Thanks for the info, guys.
So, after hearing that this was the deal, this morning I went to work to try and convince this character to simply give me two weeks to deal with the problem properly. Now in fact, this is not such an unreasonable request because again, that is about how long it take to prepare such documents. The cop however seemed to think only that he would be doing some particular damage to his own career if he allowed me any leeway at all. Oh, I know that I should be more tolerant of things especially when I understand the motivations that drive the people that are driving me crazy. But still, there should be that small percentage held back at least for logic and reason’s sake that should protect people at least from themselves. You would think that the cops would have understood this. But I guess if they had this here, it just wouldn’t be Belarus.
“Oh, I could close my eyes to this paper if I wanted to,” my cop responded “but you see there is a number at the top of the document. You see here how I have drawn a line through the paper here? That means that it doesn’t exist. This document is the original report. Well, it exists because there is that number there and I do have to make a mention of that number in this report here. But I assure you it has been thrown away and the proof of it is in the two lines that I have drawn through it…”
“Ok, I get what you are saying, But all I am saying is that the document you are asking me to sign says that after I sign it, I will only have three days with which to come up with a new visa or leave. However, it takes two or three weeks for the invitation to go through so that I can get a new visa. So, if you just allow me two weeks before you make me sign the document, I will be able to properly prepare.”
“No, I can’t so that.”
“Because I have written this report and the report has this date on it and I must ask you to sign this paper here on this date, today, in which I have given you this report.”
“But the report was made about two weeks ago.”
“That was the old report.”
“Where is this old report.”
“This is the one that I have thrown away.”
“Well, why don’t you throw away this one too?”
“Because it has a number on it. All office documents have numbers on them and we must account for all of the office documents.”
“But the other one had a number on it too.”
“The one with the “x” through it. The one you through away.” At any rate, he wouldn’t do it regardless of logic and eventually told me that he was influential on the amount of a fine we would be receiving and that if I didn’t sign the paper he would see to it that I received the maximum. I asked him if he didn’t find any irony in the fact that the country was now celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of the second world war- an event that is known here as a victory over “fascism”- and yet he so happily employs nothing but fascist tactics to make his points. That was good for a laugh at least. I signed.
My rhetoric though did not seem to move the cops emotionally as much as Tanya’s ability to burst into tears at the right moments. She was great today turning on the waterworks with little Anya held tightly in her arms:“What am I to do? I am alone now with two children and who will help us if Adam is not here?” That got them thinking a little at least and perhaps was instrumental as far as getting the eventual fine knocked down. However, that same cop had tried to tell me that it would be possible that there would be no fine- ah, they don’t know what they are doing.
And the passport guy seconded this to us when we made it over to his office later in the day. I will for the most part ignore that exchange (yes, Tanya cried again and yea, it helped again) except to say that I have now ONE FUCKING DAY to get my papers together. That’s right, dude wants everything by tomorrow. But I mean shit, my dirty clothes are still soaking out at the dacha. And when the hell am I going to finally get the rest of the potatoes in?!
But in the end though the deal is that really I do not think I will be able to stay. I just don’t see how I can. I didn’t see how I could have for quite some time now but I have. But then again, I have not paid for any of the visas have I? No, it has been possible to scrounge by on what little I could fine. We ate well. I mean, we are not gourmets. I don’t even think there is such a thing as ‘Russian Gourmet’ (I am going to get letters over that one…). I mean, we eat soup and bread. Kasha we eat. Potatoes we eat. When we have some money, there is some tomato sauce for the spaghetti. Beans and rice. Cabbage. But we didn’t starve. Anya needs a lot of things. Diapers are expensive amongst other things.
But what I am trying to say is that I stayed here because of several real reasons. I have a child here. I have what is called a family here. And I have been unable to leave because of that damned visa problem…
Rocks and hard places. This is generally where Belarus is, don’t you know.
So now, as of this moment I believe I will have about 10 days to finish up whatever there is that there is to do here in Belarus and then I will have to go. Maybe a few more days here or there but not much more. And because as of this moment I have no such money to pay for another visa I am thinking that this is in fact, at least for what will probably be a very long moment, the end of the line for me here. I was told by the cops that they have lowered the price of the visa for Americans, but still, the deal simply doesn’t work if you factor this in.
Yea, it would have been different if the book would have sold. Yea, it would have been different if I had gotten more press and such about what I had gone through, some general support. But that didn’t happen. Hell, it would have even worked out if that job I had been offered back in the states last year had gone through. But it didn’t. None of it did. And so I stayed, and I worked and I cared for the farm and I took care of business as best as I could using what little materials I had to work with. And if this is the end, and I am thinking that it is, then really, it is just one more pathetic episode from this whole sordid affair.
And if I have one final word to add here it concernes something the guy at the passport agency said. The guy was angry at me. He was angry at me for making his job harder and he said he was angry at me for not coming to him with the problem first - though even he could see the lack of logic in coming to exactly the people who would toss me out would be. Or at least he cou8ld understand my lack of trust. But during his being angry with me he said something about “what had happened in Poland” as if this had something to do with things. He brought up Poland! He brought it up as if it was a great strike against me. Poland. I hadn’t ever heard anybody say anything directly to me before but he did. He had heard all about me don’t you see. And now I understand where all of the attitude he had shown me every time I had come through his office with all of those visas I did buy came from. Poland had told him what sort of guy I was. Poland had spread lies. Or, in other words, he reminded me just how amazingly effective Poland’s slander has been on my life. And why I write this blog.
And that is how I am going to wrap up this episode. Three years of torture, folks. And it hasn’t ended yet. Let’s see how the next few days go. I might be on line before, but for sure I will come in on Sunday. But let’s see how it goes from here.