Every day I sleep longer; today it was past 2 pm when I finally decided to get up to bring some coffee. I say to myself these are the last days before getting back to full activity. The state of emergency in Portugal is supposed to end 2nd May, if I'm not mistaken. Thus eight or nine days to enjoy this emptiness and leisure. I spend my nights seeing movies, some valuable, some less valuable. Last night it was a movie about a German war prisoner crossing Siberia, As far as my feet will carry me. Recommendable. There is no more news from Poland, just conjectures, signs, omens.
I am very far from all my past academic work. It is a major break. My last, pendent works were for Poland. There is this essay on Islam and Christianity that had peer-reviews in Przegląd Orientalistyczny, and the other one, for Teksty Drugie, that seems to have no outcome. I should ask them about it. I was also trying to write an essay in English for my Silesian colleague. But I feel this is the moment of laisser tomber. Poland does not need my essays on Islam and Christianity any more, no need for that sort of loose historico-Quranic recollections. Nor essays about travels. Nor essays about languages of the humanity, living, dead or dying. No need of anything I might say. The time of intellectual activity is over; the time of fighting for having an academe is over.
Anyway, they never truly wanted me, needed me. All those years, I was an unwelcome addition to things. A woman who narzuca się. An expression without an English equivalent, connotative of unwelcome sexual attention and readiness. Only men are allowed to have such attitudes, not women.
Ah, that is just a noise of words, shallow bitterness, that doesn't really matter any longer, not even for me. This is a closed chapter, a thing that is no more.
All links are dissolved. It could be something private, a marriage ending in divorce. I have largely avoided private catastrophes, I just have to deal with this. It could be worse.
Things ceased to matter. There is only a bleak, snowy landscape from now on.
And I turn my back on it.
There is Leiden, Oxford, still. I wonder what will happen now, if Great Britain returns to Europe. I suppose it will. There will be European Union again. There will be life. There will be university. There will be books. Libraries. Mahogany bookshelves. Flowers. Those tall lilies for which I never had a suitable jar in Leiden.
It has often been said that there is no European identity, that European Union is not a homeland to anyone. But in this emergency it is to its colours, if any, that I am attached. It is my homeland, I have no other. The only thing that brings us together, between Leiden and Oxford, and Paris, and Heidelberg. Between Christians and Muslims, sedentary and migrants, and refugee intellectuals. The only thing that stands for true life, among China and Russia, and United States. The only safe heaven, the only place on earth to be free, and to work for freedom, for everyone.
There is still a chance any day now the message from France will come. That I have my place granted in Paris, for the coming months. That I can work on my project of the Poetics of the Void. Write my first book. That everything is just hunky-dory.
I can return to my ideas any moment. Read again, learn Arabic again. I can still be whoever I wanted, it's not too late. An Orientalist.
As the doors of Middle Europe are closing behind my back, I feel a great void of any competence, of anything that might imply status, accumulated achievements, research experience. I feel blank like a newly bought notebook. Starting from zero, from a flat surface, from a bare polder.