Monday, 19 April 2010

This world sounds different to you and me

I have been reading about the lives of illegal immigrants in Britain recently. Lives dictated by fear, entrapment and exploitation. This got me thinking a lot about how even though we share the same space and hear the same sounds as each other; the meaning and experience can be vastly different.

To me a siren may be startling, but it tells me that someone else is in danger or trouble. To someone working and living illegally without papers, a siren means 'is it me this time?' A knock on the door to me tells me that someone has come to visit, it is a positive and pleasant sound. To people living illegally it is a sound of fear. 'Who can this be, and what do they want?'

Living in cramped, overcrowded houses, sharing bedrooms and often beds with several people, all working different shifts throughout the day and night means that the wonderful sounds of company and humanity are also difficult to appreciate, as there is no break or reflection. Sleep is sporadic and broken by the lack of quiet time and space.

From crowded house onto crowded minibus into crowded, brutally loud workplace and back again. No peace in which to process events. Language barriers closing down the opportunity and stimulation of words, compressing them to unintelligible noises, harsh tones and fear.

This world sounds different to you and me.