Yesterday was our last shooting day. Early this morning I flew to San José in Costa Rica and tonight am flying home. Am now in a “private VIP cabin” at an internet café. Private means each computer is in a really dark closet-type space. And VIP means I actually fit into it I guess! As usual on my travel day back, expect a longish and reflective post…
More and more a pattern is emerging in Sujeylin’s life. I don’t know why I never used the word pattern before, because it is so blatantly obvious.
It being my last day, I was particularly interested in shooting yesterday because it was the only time we could get her and boyfriend Felix together. It was Sunday, and despite Felix having worked until 4AM they were up when we arrived and hanging out with some neighboring youths listening to really loud music. One of the houses was used as a crack-smoking space, and that’s where I found Felix. Sujeylin was outside, seated in a plastic chair with baby Karla on her side.
In no time a verbal conflict broke out between her and Felix when the latter joined the group. Because of the music, and also because Sujeylin wasn’t wearing her microphone yet, I had no idea what it was about. A little later the fight continued in their home, but we remained distant (out of respect, mostly).
Twenty minutes later I catch up with Felix on the street and he starts complaining to me. Even when we clearly start recording the conversation, he doesn’t hold back. They are always fighting, every single day. She treats Karla bad. He feels suffocated. And more than anything, he is tired of his life. Tired of working very long hours and only having Sundays to disconnect, for which he needs alcohol and drugs. And he’s crying really big tears now.
I knew Sujeylin wasn’t easy to be with for the men in her life, but I am still quite surprised. When she talks to me about it, everything is hunky dory. Ok, they disagree sometimes, but this is where she wants to be and where her future is.
We decide to disappear for a while (crew needs feeding) considering that we might wanna give them some breathing space. When we return an hour and a half later, Sujeylin is packing her bags and Felix’s mother gives us a long and teary speech about her ex-daughter-in-law. She feels bad for Karla, obviously. She’d be better off with them. Obviously!
This soap’s episode (!) finishes with Sujeylin deciding to give it one more try as she decides to stay. By this time Felix has passed out on their bed, so she has some time to have the last word. Her argument is also very valid: the baby’s father is a crack addict and she doesn’t want Karla to see Felix smoking the stuff. They got into this monumental (and repetitive) fight in the first place because of that. But where is she to go? She doesn’t want to go back to the park. She can’t go back to her family in Chontales (ever, according to her). So she decides to stay, only for the sake of Karla. A mother’s decision.
I am starting to believe that in her environment, with the many people we have met so far, you start following any of these characters with a camera for a longer amount of time and the story is always similar. Interesting, shocking, sad. You can learn a lot and even feel like you are contributing something to their lives. But it doesn’t matter much who you choose. These people’s lives are dictated by the poverty they were born into. Poverty and repression lead to violence in all its aspects. Violence against one’s own person, against one’s loved-ones and against society. It’s a vicious circle hard to break. A really tough one.
That makes me think of Karla. What’s her life going to be like in 5 years? And in 10 or 20? Is there a chance she gets educated and ends up in a job? Or will she slip into begging at traffic lights, unknowingly making the shift into prostitution and drug abuse? It’s so incredibly easy (and much more likely to happen). And you couldn’t blame her. I need to keep an eye on her for the next 20 years…