Friday, 26 May 2023 08:48

Pastuso in Rwanda

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in Poetry
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Pastuso in Rwanda

Pastuso in Rwanda

by Jim Aitken

First they came for my dear friend, Mr Samuel Gruber,
who came originally from Hungary, I think.
Then they came for me early one Friday morning.
They burst into my attic bedroom as I slept
and shouted, ‘Get your filthy foreign fur out of this bed.’
I was terribly shocked and embarrassed for my hosts.
The children, Judy and Jonathan, were screaming and Mr
and Mrs Brown protested rather profusely, as I recall.

No longer welcome, I was whisked out of 32 Windsor Gardens
without even being able to say all my goodbyes
and without, more importantly, any marmalade sandwiches
for the long journey to Kigali airport. There was to be no
legal appeal on my behalf owing to the fact that my
anthropomorphised identity was not considered to be legal.
I simply could not understand the complexities of it all and
found it rather sad for the country I once considered my home.

My biographer, that nice Mr Michael Bond, had once witnessed
the Kindertransport refugees on their arrival in London
with labels round their necks, and so he simply transferred
this to me. It was my lovely Aunt Lucy who had enabled me
to stowaway and she placed a message around my neck
which read, ‘Please look after this bear. Thank you.’
I did have a wonderful time in Notting Hill, looking back,
and I do miss the Brown family and think of them with fondness.

Cleverly, the authorities here in Kigali have requested that
my statue in Paddington Station, along with the other one
in Leicester Square, be sent over here. It certainly seems that
I am marketable everywhere I go. They have built me a nice hut
in the Volcanoes National Park and my new neighbours,
the gorillas, are extremely pleasant and I understand their
language perfectly well. It is similar to the language I spoke
in darkest Peru. In these beautiful mountains I am called Pastuso.

This was my actual name at birth. The Bonds and the Browns,
terribly nice people as they were, preferred the name Paddington
since foreign sounding names were just too difficult, it seemed.
And it also seems, looking back, how it was their so called Brexit
that tapped into the fear of the foreign and created the madness
engulfing the place. With their economy now belly-flopping, it seems
they need a constant stream of diversionary scapegoats. It is all such
a terrible shame but it’s now time for a jar of marvellous marmalade.

This poem is taken from the Welcome to Britain anthology published by Civic Leicester and edited by Ambrose Musiyiwa.

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