I am going to die soon. I am too weak to leave the one-room apartment where I live. My bearded friend has come to support me, help me get out a bit in his rented car. We went to the famous Three Sisters rock formation in the Blue Mountains: a place I loved and which could remind him of his three daughters back in the UK. We went to Bellambi beach: while he swam I sat on a swing and let the gentle wind blow me peacefully to and fro, to and fro. I showed him the University where once I was a Professor. On a day I felt almost good, lots of pills, we drove to Botany Bay, near Sydney, and lunched with friends.
Whenever I have an appetite he has taken me where I want to eat: McDonald’s, cakes at the local Westfield shopping centre and my favourite fish, barramundi, served by the Pakistanis down near the sea-front in Wollongong, where I live. Sometimes, when walking from the car, I have to stop and we wait for my energy to return. On a few occasions I have lost track, my mind has wandered: I asked a café waiter to check the balance in my bank account; I angrily insisted that the manager of my accommodation get a message to my children, stuck with my estranged wife in Moscow; I once swore at my friend, confusing him for the crook I had worked for in Nigeria years before.
He’s got to go home soon. I’ll miss him. We’ll speak. We’ll chat about old friends from our time together. He was my Professor, teaching me to speak English – long before I became an Australian. We’ll speak about Sarajevo: he wants to learn more about the terrible time I had working for an Islamic charity during the siege. Together, over skype, 10,000 miles apart but really together, we’ll sing the silly song we sang in Red Square before my wedding. Yes, we’ll speak.