We talk about the resettlement process. His phone rings and he casts his eyes down. He glances at the number, then lets it ring and continues to speak over the distinctive Nokia ringtone.
I lean back in my seat and cross my foot over my knee. I insist he answers. I tell him I don’t want to intrude. But he says it’s okay, it’s just a friend from back home in Pakistan. They call frequently, each time with the same question: when will he be resettled in a third country? They say: it’s been five months since he received refugee status, how long could it possibly take?
He’s pleaded with them not to ask anymore, but they still do. Now he ignores their calls.
If his friends are impatient, maybe the should try living it, day after fucking day, in a land of perpetual weather, without seasons beyond “wet” and “dry”.
I think of home. It’s the beginning of April, leaves will begin to pile in the backyard beneath the deciduous tree. I wonder if my mum will collect them for compost this year.
His phone rings again. He ignores it, pushes it under a cushion.
I no longer want to ask about the resettlement process. I look around the living room, and scramble for a new conversation topic.
Couches festooned with torn floral-print line the walls, flanking a coffee table in the centre of the room. There’s a mirror. A calendar. A water cooler.
I think back to when I entered the room, before the sounds and smells of cooking floated in from the kitchen, he had greeted me with a warm smile and a handshake. He congratulated me on Australia’s recent win in the cricket world cup.
I ask him who his favourite cricketer is. “Dan Vettori", he replies without pause.
The whole New Zealand cricket team.
Their uniform is very calming.
It’s all just black and white...”