Living in Rome
Salambo finds racism is rampant in the city. Whenever administrative officers are being addressed by a coloured person, they ignore them as if they were not talking to them. A number of residents pretend to help illegal immigrants but in reality, they profit from their dire situation. They let out properties at above market rates without declaring it to the tax office, thus avoiding to pay income tax, and if the immigrants complain, they threaten to give them out to the police. There even seem to be some collusion sometimes between Italian citizens and the local police. Melina was recently complaining to Salambo about high electricity bills she was struggling to pay every other month (utility bills in Italy are paid every two months). When Salambo actually saw the bill, she realised that consumption in kilowatt per hour was almost as high as hers, for a small studio flat that is much smaller than her own family appartment. Melina lives by herself in a studio flat, but their electricity consumption is almost the same!! The suspicion is that Melina’s landlord has fiddled with the electrical system to siphon electricity from her or make her pay for more than her own share. Melina’s neighbours had complained about it, and ended up moving out. The electricity bill is in his own name so she has no power to complain and even if she did, the electricity board wouldn’t even consider her case because she is an immigrant. He is not the only one to do such things, abusing her vulnerable situation. Many immigrants are paid dismal salaries while they are illegal, and find they have no way of defending themselves. They believe it is better than having to go back to their own respective country, where there’s no job. So the abuse goes on everywhere.