“I can still feel the fingers of that first hand I seized. How they cemented into mine, bone grinding against bone, how they clamped down with such a grip that I saw the sinuous veins of the wrist pounding. The force of the hold! My hand in a stranger’s hand, in a bond stronger and more intimate than an umbilical cord. And my whole body shook with the force of that hold as I pulled upward and dragged the naked torso from the waves. There were too many of them. Too many of them and I didn’t know what to do. I’m an Optician; I’m not a lifesaver. I’m an Optician and I was on vacation and I didn’t know what to do. I threw the rubber ring but there were people strewn like wreckage over a five-hundred-meter strewn like wreckage over a five-hundred-meter radius and they were all crying out for us. I reached over the stern step again and again but there were so many hands shooting out from beneath the waves, so many hands snatching at the air. My fingers locked on to fingers and I pulled. Were we sinking? The boat was so low in the water. Someone shouted at me but I couldn’t stop to listen. There were too many hands. The deck was crammed with black bodies vomiting and defecating all over each other. I could feel the boat pro-testing under the weight, rolling, ready to flip over. I knew the boat was out of control. Over there! Another hand!I never wanted to tell you this story. I promised myself I would never tell this story again because it’s not a fairy tale. There were just too many of them. I wanted to go back for them. I wanted to go back. Do you understand what I’m trying to say to you? Maybe it’s not possible for you to understand because you weren’t in that boat. But I was there and I saw them. I still see them. Because it’s still happening.”

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