Ode to XIU


It was a Friday on a wet and grey December. The East highway was loaded. It was 4pm and the night was already hanging around. Coming back from this lost suburb near DISNEYLAND, the return to Paris should be difficult with such traffic. He was thirsty and decided to buy a bottle of water in the next parking area. No time to piss, neither to drink a coffee. He bought the bottle and quickly, sit back in his car.

He was driving the car into the access lane when a woman appeared, running on the lane. Frantic, she didn’t know she was in danger there. She signaled to him to stop the car. He braked and he sized up her. Was she a fool ? He thought no; she’s just in trouble. She was a Chinese woman, more than 55 years old, wearing modest clothes. Probably a factory woman. He understood she had just been abandonned after a quarrel, maybe by her husband or…

She asked “Qu Bali ?” which means in Chinese “Go to Paris ?”. He answered yes and he invited her to sit in his car. And they kept again the highway. She was in trouble. To his questions, she answered in Chinese. He understood a few cuz he’s trying to learn this language since many years. She’s living in France since years, but she didn’t know to speak in French. He understood she’s not anymore a factory woman. She was a prostitute. She was one of the numerous Chinese women, coming from the poor region of DONGBEI, pushed by the unemployment to go to France, first with the hope to find a job but quickly fallen in prostitution in Paris poor Chinatown Belleville. She explained a “client” took her at his home in suburb, beat and raped her. Then on the way of return, he abandoned her on the highway parking area. Disgusted by this woman, disgusted by himself.

In the car, the woman gave off a bad sweet smell but he didn’t care. She had a tired face. Her hands were a factory woman’s ones. She didn’t look to a professionnal prostitute. Curious of the others human beings’ life, he went on his questions. She had a 25 years old daughter, living in CHINA. The girl was now studying in a university of SHANGHAI. She didn’t know her mother was prostituting herself to pay her studies. She asked to her mother to come back to China. But the mother couldn’t…
The woman seemed to have tough character, but began to cry. Slowly, in silence, shortly. He didn’t know what to say, what to so. He just wanted that woman feels a human being in his eyes.
After an hour, the car came into Paris, la Grande Bibliothèque, Austerlitz station, Saint-Michel area… Despite all these famous places of Paris, she didn’t recognize the town where she is living since years, just like if she just arrived. “Are we now in Paris” she asked ?

She only knew her prostitution area, Belleville. He could imagine the life of the tired woman : walking all the day along the pavement, bad tricks for a few euros with the worst of the males, violent, degenerate, obscene,  sex maniac. Frighten. Clients despising a poor mother they are destroying.

What is in her heart ? What are her secret hopes ? She was probably waiting her daughter finish her studies.

In the car, somebody call her by phone. Some of her friends, Chinese prostitutes, come from DONGBEI, like her. They worried about her. They saw her going away in the car of her “client”. Time has past and she didn’t appear again. They knoew they do a dangerous job. She told she is OK, She reassured them. There’s warm solidarity between these rejected women.

He let her in front of a metro station on the line which goes directly to… Belleville. He was afraid she maybe lost in Paris. She said many times, “xie, xie…” “thanks”. At the moment to say goodbye, he gave her a 50 euros note. And he felt some sudden disappointment in the eyes of the woman. Since so long time, no one had considered her like a human being, and showed concern about her broken family. But Finally, this man was like the others, asking for a trick…
He made her understand that he didn’t want a trick . He insisted and she understood that was only an help. She accepted the help.

Embarrassed she thanked, thanked again, she bowed  before him, like if she was a Japanese woman. She told :“I will call you as soon I arrive at home” as if he was her brother. Quite sad, he came back to his car and let her stand in front of the entrance of the station. Looking forward him, she was waving her factory woman hand like if he was a parent going away. She bowed again, alone, among in hurry people who even don’t look at her.  She was like a little girl. He looked at her the last time in the rear-mirror of his car.

He thought he probably will not see her again, even if he let her his visiting card. He hopes she will see again her daughter.

Coming back in the rich area of Paris, he was sad. The restaurants and the bars, in the end of the week were full. Joyful and funny people. The price of one of their dinner is equal to the price of so many bad tricks  for her with dirty men.

Luxury and carefreeness were sweating from these lightfull shops which doors will always be close for her. She will never come in good restaurants and Parisian stores. He felt tears in his eyes.

Xiu, that’s her name.

Xiu, why your life is so tough ? What have you done for desserve those trials ? Your daughter will never know what you’ve done for her.

“Xiu, zai jian” and good luck to you,
Wish you’ll soon hug your daughter.

~ by nournours on December 12, 2009.

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