Many of us have come to believe that if we aren’t under the umbrella of a state entity, we don’t exist. At the door of a ministry, or face-to-face with the secretary of some official, we are always asked the same question, “And you, where are you from?” It’s not curiosity about our regional origin, but rather a sharp inquiry regarding what institution validates us. When you don’t have a badge with the logo of a state enterprise, little can be done for you in these official departments. Those of us who are “independent citizens” or “self employed individuals,” are accustomed to long waits and negative answers.
In this peculiar condition of free electron, remote from the nucleus of any privilege, power or important position, I’m an expert in setbacks, a specialist in procedures that are never resolved. I’ve been asked, a thousand and one times, the same question about the state umbrella that protects me, and I prefer to burn under the sun of my autonomy, to shelter under my own prerogative. Of course this philosophy of “not belonging” can’t be explained to the guardian so that I may enter to resolve some forbidden matter.
It turns out that I don’t exist, because no state entity has me inventoried, because I don’t pay a fee to a union or appear on the list of some workplace cafeteria. Although I walk, sleep, love and even complain, I lack a certificate-of-existence that would give me affiliation to a small—and boring—number of neogovernmental organizations. In practice, I’m a civic ghost, a non-being, someone unable to show the sharp eye of the doorkeeper even the slightest proof of being in the official mechanisms.