November 1, 2023
Lost in his own country, Rik Van Puymbroeck looks at what surprises and sometimes overwhelms.
BRUSSELS. The commuter was rare yesterday. Our roads were only used for the annual walk to the dead. The small roads in your own neighborhood or the major highways back home, far away, where life once began and where it often ended for grandmothers and grandfathers. The generations before us did not leave their villages so easily.
We did that and they do that even more. They have come from far away in the hope of finding a better life with us. So on the streets of Brussels you can see what the world is like and we, in our beautiful shiny company cars, pass by with embarrassment. We avert our gaze and dare not look them in the eye. But what would they think?
They must have noticed that the city was quiet yesterday. That there was hardly any work done on an apparently weekday. That shops remained closed. They knew nothing about All Saints’ Day and November 1 was not a day off for them. Same day as October 31 and November 2. Same cold, same tiles, same questions, same disappointment, same hope.