středa 31. srpna 2011
Před pěti lety touto dobou jsem se chystala ke svojí první cestě do Oxfordu, na úvodní seminář v rámci svého vysněného studia tvůrčího psaní. Vyrážela jsem tehdy celá rozstřesená vlakem ze Štrasburku, v tašce několik linkovaných sešitů a plné kapsy dřevěných tužtiček, které s náruživostí shromažďuji při návštěvách oblíbeného obchodního domu IKEA. Hned při první hodině jsem samosebou zjistila, že tužky a papíry nejsou pro psaní tak podstatné jako například odvaha, protože - jak vtipně poznamenal jakýsi spisovatel těsně před tím, než se odrazil: Psaní je jako skočit ze skály a za letu si vynalézat křídla. Já dodávám: obzvlášť psaní v jazyce jiném než rodném střediskovém a mateřském. Vlastně dodnes nechápu, co mě to napadlo, ale - stalo se, a ke svému velkému překvapení pořád letím, přesněji řečeno řítím se a odolávám gravitaci i poryvům větru. V návaznosti na post o tom, jak probíhaly přijímačky (čtěte zde), jsem byla několikrát tázána, jestli bych nezveřejnila ukázky psaní z kurzu nebo z talentovek. Nuže, rukuji vstříc anglicky čtoucím příznivcům Pokynů s povídkou MIF, která byla mou hlavní přijímačkovou prací, a která nedávno vyšla v knize Jiné právo literární.
It was just before midnight, when after long hours of frantic writing, Eva rubbed her tired eyes and stretched before the screen of the computer. She still had two MIFs and several NUTS cases to finish, but now she needed a break. She got up from her chair, made a few sit-ups and started to walk through the alleys of the archive.
There might have been some ten thousand files around her, anxiously arranged by many numerical and colour patterns. She of course had to be extremely careful not to forget the exact places, from which she was taking the files, because if the pedantic Ms Dervaux would have noticed that anything was replaced or missing, it would mean a hysteria that would keep Eva away of her secret job for weeks and who knows – maybe she would then lose the courage to return here ever again.
Now, though, there was nobody, the Court seemed to be dark and empty and Eva, being able to touch, open and read any of the blue, red or yellow covers of the prohibited and confidential files, felt excited of having managed to grasp so much power without anybody knowing.
She returned to the computer, had a sip of water and opened one of the red files that were to be completed tonight. It was the case of Ms T., a barely literate seventeen’ year old mother, whose baby got bizarrely taken away from her and immediately registered for adoption, so she was never to see her child again. It was obviously impossible for Ms T. to give a whatever legal qualification of her problem and specify, as required by the application form, in which dealings did she perceive a violation of her rights, not talking about being able to pay for a lawyer. She was just trying to share her tragedy, desperately hoping that there was something to be done and that the brilliant lawyers and judges of the honourable Court would help her.
In Eva’s eyes, this Court above anything else, resembled God: whoever could turn to it for free and then try to believe in miracles, while the goodness which eventually never happened, nobody questioned, as there was no appeal.
“If the frequency of miracles produced by God is as scarce as the one performed by this institution,” Eva once said to the Court’s registrar, “then my expectations of heaven are highly unsatisfactory.”
The registrar raised his careful forehead. The form and contents of whatever critical thought he might eventually have produced was entirely determined by his addiction to the indulging life, which he enjoyed as the high Court’s official. “Too many applicants,” he said. “This Court was originally not arranged to deal with so many worries of so many people, you know? In just a few years, it grew from a quartet into a philharmonic orchestra, which is still obliged to play quartet parts, but in huge amounts. A few hundreds daily, if you want to know, how many decisions are mailed from here each day,” he concluded, leaving a proud echo to hang in the air. Eva was ready to comment whether it was not the mistake of the conductor, perhaps, who was forcing the philharmonics to play music for only four people, but she’d wisely opted to demand instead whether there was anything she could do in order to improve the situation. No – she heard – nothing really. She was, in fact, a great help already, being an outstanding lawyer and delivering the best work, while perfectly satisfying her prescribed monthly quotas.
Ms T.’s handwriting was the one of a schoolgirl, scruffy, anxious, determined to convey the message. Now she could have been about twenty years old, Eva thought, skimming through the date of lodging and the date by which the Court kindly mailed its final letter to her.
The letter was plainly informing Ms T. that to the Court’s profound regret, she was considered a MIF: “Your complaint is Manifestly Ill Founded as there is nothing to indicate a violation of the rights guaranteed by the Charter,” Eva read in the first paragraph. “Please note that this opinion is final and there is no further remedy against it.”
Unlike MIFs, which at least meant a decent abbreviation for unfounded cases, NUTS were just nuts, turning to the respectable human rights’ institution with issues of marginal importance, or, more often, articulating their most unrealisable wishes and dreams. Ms T. could have been easily qualified NUTS, too, Eva thought. She couldn’t even write properly, her arguments were unclear, she was not referring to any Article of the Charter and above all, her application was late.
In the many days, which have passed since she’d talked to the registrar, Eva has continued in doing her best. She was carefully studying even the most absurd, handwritten and incomprehensible submissions, trying to decode traces of human rights’ violations and contemplating over ways how some of her most touchy and breathtaking MIFs and NUTS could be admitted and reregistered as solid, real, big cases, or at least, how their rejecting letter could be amended or rephrased in order to acquire at least an icing of human compassion, once its contents were bare and cruel. The success of her effort was very scarce, though. She was usually referred to kindly consult the Rules of Court and the Document Masks’ Manual, which, as you know, does not allow to step out of the binding measures regarding the rejection of a case lodged with the Court, thank you for your understanding.
This drove Eva furious. Several times she even panicked to an extent of printing out the resignation form, nearly signing it and leaving this place forever. But she never did. She knew that even if it seemed so impossible, her position still allowed her to potentially have some influence over the applicant’s destinies before the Court and she felt as being morally obliged to exploit this potential. The only question was – how.
Making sure that unlike many others, a seventeen’ year old mother in despair was not eligible for any deferral of the statutory time-limit, Eva closed her huge Commentary to the Charter. Was there anything else than frustration that this Court could offer on this occasion?
It would have definitely been more rewarding, if Ms T. had prayed instead of writing to the Court, Eva thought. Even though God as well would not provide any justification if admitting himself not to cure somebody’s dying child or letting somebody suffer in a concentration camp, he at least didn’t say – don’t believe in me. Don’t pray any more. Your faith is ridiculous.
Turning the pages of the file, Eva noticed, that there was the original of the baby’s birth certificate. It was rather stupid of Ms T. to have included an original document into her application, and at the same time, it was quite reasonable, that the Court could not be returning the loads of copies or originals that the applicants would often enclose. Something was wrong here - the system didn’t work. It would have required regiments of secret agents or angels or volunteers or whoever, that would sprinkle each file with a magical sympathizing powder, adding a page here and taking one away there, and sending it secretly back to the poor person, who was so aware of being irrelevant and late, but who wouldn’t give up his longing for miracles just because they seemed impossible.
To Eva’s conviction, all of them, all of the wrong applicants before the Court believed to receive a shred of hope, an advice, a letter, that at least would show a sign of compassion.
“Dear Ms T.,” wrote Eva into the standardized Word mask of the Court’s letter. “Please accept my sincere apologies for a mistake that occurred in the last letter you received from the Court. Your case has been reconsidered and the Court came to a conclusion, that the fact you were forced to sign a consent with adoption and subsequently lost the contact with your daughter Anna, is exceptionally disquieting. Believe me, that myself, being a father of three children, I personally feel with you and can imagine your suffering and despair. Even though the Court cannot provide you with a judgment in your favour (your submission, unfortunately, reached us too late), I, on its behalf, feel morally obliged to at least propose the steps that you might be interested in taking, as after having examined the domestic legislation, I am convinced, that there is still a way for you to get your child back.” Pretending to be the registrar, Eva went on for about a page, advising Ms T. to contact the ombudsman, to call to a foundation dealing with free legal counselling in family law (having quickly searched the internet, she also included the telephone number and the name of the lawyer to talk to) and at the end, she remarked, that the original of Anna’s birth certificate, was being enclosed.
Getting the Administrator’s password to enter Ms Dervaux’s computer was not as difficult, since Eva’s relations with the IT department were well developed and based on a strong bond of reciprocal system of legal and technical services. Getting the archive entrance door key copied was one level upwards in terms of challenge, but like a surfer gliding on a huge wave, exciting and dangerous at the same time, Eva managed. Falsifying the registrar’s signature was just a question of a few minutes’ training, while obtaining regular supplies of the Court’s embossed official paper and envelopes did not present a problem at all. She wouldn’t risk to be on her angel’s duty every day as passing by the entrance gate’ guards late at night so frequently might throw a beam of suspicion on her. She had to be extremely cautious to be able to keep her secret duty on as long as possible: It was still necessary to write to Mr D., who was crippled at a mine without ever receiving any compensation from his employer. To F., who was fighting for his parents to be rehabilitated for false allegations raised against them in a manipulated trial deep in the past. To L.K., an blind old man in a wheelchair, who, for unknown reasons, could not be qualified as handicapped and eligible to incapacity pension. To S., a maths’ student imprisoned after causing a car accident and getting now regularly raped by his co-detainee. And to E.N., whose wife died at childbirth due to an alleged mistake of one of the doctors, and whose lawyer didn’t bother to send the application in time.
Since the day, on which Eva has launched her mission, more than four hundred letters filled with advice, compassion and hope were successfully despatched from the Court’s gates.
Sometimes she tried to guess what people feel when they open her envelopes and find out that their case, after all, did deserve a special, personalized treatment before such an institution and that there were more ways, more appeals and more chances allowing them to continue hoping. Did they consider it a miracle? Destiny? A prospect of God?
Eva yawned and took the last sip of water, carefully putting the bottle into her handbag, so that no traces of her activity remained in Ms Dervaux’s sphere. It was 1 a.m. She will now have prepared all the fifteen envelopes, which were to be discreetly shuffled in tomorrow’s outgoing mail. Afterwards, she would have only make sure that all of the eventually incriminating contents got safely deleted from the computer and with an armful of files, she would have approached the racks and place all the fifteen elf-struck files in their original positions. The angels’ shifts are too long, she thought, smiling. How much easier it was to be only an outstanding lawyer.
She was just about to seal the first envelope when she heard noise from the corridor. Somebody slammed a distant door. Eva got petrified in panic. Steps. She heard steps! It was apparent that somebody was coming here. In amok she started to desperately blur all the traces of her recent existence in the place. She threw all the files into a drawer, pushed the power button of the computer and jammed the letters and envelopes into her handbag, sprinting to the light-switch. It seemed ridiculous that all her effort would get disclosed with such trivial abruptness.
Breathless, she waited, leaning to the dark wall, aware that if someone was to enter the room now, her case would definitely not be a MIF, but there would be neither mercy nor appeal.