When I write, I feel like Marlow on the River Thames, talking about the Congo.

Disjointed, quiet, outraged yet subdued, I tell my story to those who want to listen. I spin my stories like yarn. They are stories of observation, rarely of action. When they are stories of action, I am not the subject.

Bach’s music echoes through the trees, fish come to the surface before disappearing again into the depth of the river.

Ivory, sugar, coffee, diamonds. Has anything changed since then?

What is it that keeps me on the boat and out of the water? The water – so seductive, almost beckoning me to let myself be drifted away on its steady, fast stream.

Leverage. I have it because I am at the steering wheel. I have it because I am just in that position. I have it because I am privileged.

A hot, misty summer evening. I sit on the grass, eating rice out of a wooden bowl with my hands. The rice is not nearly as sticky as the clothes on my back. Dew starts to befall the flowers. The river gets covered by the mist. On the other side, someone is exploiting local kids, they have to do hard labour. The mist obfuscates my view, I relish in the dew. It makes everything seem so much fresher as the sun goes down and it begins to cool.

Back on the Thames, I am freezing half to death. My knitwear old and full of holes. Holes that the rainforest brought me, costing me in the urban jungle now. On the left bank there are furnaces belonging to several factories. The people will be subdued much the same there. Elsewhere, blackened faces, sweat pearls dripping on barren land, emerge from the mines. Fog starts rising up from the river until I see the misery no more.

And always that refrain…: refrain!

… until I see the misery no more.

Misery.

No more?

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