Finding a Safe Haven
Filip realized it would have to be now or never. He needed to achieve his objectives after three years living as a virtual slave and having to hide his accumulating wealth. He’d been milking generous European tourists for the equivalent money to get him back to Europe and had played that game successfully. The bank balance had grown.
So taking the risk he thought to try one more time with his immigration friend. This time he put it on the line. He needed permanent residence in Sri Lanka, he wanted to set up his own business and would welcome a partnership with any one this official should choose, preferably a family member? And right now he needed to be under the protection of the official. Some of Filip’s precious foreign exchange was pressed into the official’s hand as a seal to their friendship.
That evening Filip’s employers were warned and he was moved from the beach thatch hut to a better accommodation where his safety could be assured.
Within a year the partnership flourished and Filip began a slow move toward acceptance in his adopted society. The Immigration Official had arranged for his younger brother to be Filip’s partner in business. Prudence dictated he not be directly involved in the enterprise though he quietly took an active interest in Filip’s moves and had the books regularly checked by another relative in the accounting profession. The younger brother was quite content to march to his brother’s orders and was forbidden to take any part in the management of the tour operation. As an additional precaution the official had tour groups followed by another relative. All of this Filip understood and decided his prosperity was at the whim of this official. He was content with his life and didn’t want to jeopardize his fortunes in any way.
It had been now two years since he commenced business with his partner protector. Filip took stock of his life. He was happy with the position and connections established with money enough flowing in. But now he’d achieved his ambition an emptiness settled over him. He remembered the elephant keeper’s daughter. A re-connection would of course not be wise as it would bring him into contact with his original benefactors indirectly. Who knew where that would lead?
The immigration official began to receive reports Filip was looking around for a suitable partner to care for his home needs. Remarks had been made in the presence of those hired to watch him that Filip yearned for a family of his own. He’d been completely cut off from his own family behind the iron curtain but remembered the intimacy of association with parents and siblings. The more he thought about it the lonelier he became.
In thinking the matter over the Immigration Official suddenly had an idea. He’d been thinking about a suitable match for his daughter who’d reached marriageable age. Perhaps this was a solution? A match with this foreigner? A marriage would seal the bond between the parties, and Filip had been a wind fall for his extended family with funds flowing into their banks from the partnership.
One more issue had to be dealt with. An annual trip to immigration to renew Filip’s permission to stay and work in the country wouldn’t provide the level of stability he hoped for with his daughter’s marriage.
So it was that the official’s brother delivered paperwork to Filip one day and instructed him to fill it out. Filip was proficient in speaking Singhalese but his writing did not match his speaking ability. So when it was explained what the paperwork was for he studied it diligently during the night and discovered it was an application for citizenship. Filip nodded his head in happy recognition. He would not only have a home if this was accepted, but a country! Next day he sought out the brother and had him fill in the application.
Then to his further surprise he was summoned to a formal interview. Everything had been arranged behind the scenes but protocol had to be observed and questions asked. In spite of obvious discrepancies in his UN documentation, one month after the interview papers were handed to him indicating he was now a Sri Lanka citizen he had a Singhalese family name recorded there which just happened to be the same as the Immigration Officials. Along with that documentation there was an invitation to join the official at his residence for a celebration dinner. It was now safe for their friendship to be bought out in the open.
At the feast that night household women hovered over him while servants served each course, then the official and Filip retired to their balcony view over the ocean to enjoy the evening. The official wasted no time having observed Filip’s interest in his daughter. He proposed a link with the family through marriage watching with keen interest for the response.
Filip smiled. Now it was clear to him. The unexpected help in gaining citizenship and now a marriage proposal. Why not? The woman was beautiful, a link with this prominent family was prudent, and he was lonely!
Mother and daughter were called and the official instructed them to prepare themselves for a wedding. The daughter averted her eyes as was customary and waited while arrangements were commenced. Lifting her eyes as her head was bowed she studied this foreigner and liked what she saw. He was handsome and she knew he was well connected in business. He’d often been the subject of conversation at home though she’d never met him before. A shiver of excitement went through her as she thought of having status in her own right in her own home.
Filip now a married man rose slowly to a position of prominence in Colombo with the support of the immigration officer. His Singhalese wife produced him many sons which the Immigration Official and his wife now retired comfortably doted on as they grew to manhood.
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2016 All rights reserved”