A powerful poem about the refugee experience | Babak Ghassim and Usama Elyas | TEDxEastEnd


Translator: Cristina Bufi-Pöcksteiner
Reviewer: Felix LAI Behind us my country. Everything that I am, was born there. Everything that was homeland to me. The playground where we played as kids. The smile of my first love. The apple tree near us in the park, and the little lake hidden
behind the mountain. The hot tea on the tin tray. Wrinkled storytellers,
laugh lines adorning their faces. Fooling around on the way
back home from school. And nights waiting until our parents
fell asleep, then sneaking out again. The creaks and squeaks
of my brother’s bike, Neruda’s poems and the smell of wet grass. Radios, the tortured sound
still retaining melodic tones. My sister’s singing in
the morning. My mother. My mother with all her money worries. And I don’t know why: ladybirds. All of this was once home to me. All of this was once home to me. But I could stay no more. Behind us: the war, the fresh grave of my parents, the last grains of soil
still slithering down, yet to find their final resting place. So fresh is our grief.
Nothing is overcome. I could stay no longer. We were spoken of as doomed. Our people forced into trains,
disappearing in the locos’ smoke trails. Our doors smashed,
shop windows shattered. Our parents intimidated,
brothers and sisters persecuted, and lurid news from friends, those who were still there that is –
most had disappeared. Staying was no longer an option,
not for a single day. The next step in my city was my last step in my country, and the most horrid step then
on to this rusty boat. That at first would heave and sway,
at first would carry us. And then would sink,
dispersing us in the sea. The sea so desolate, the moon hiding behind the clouds. The night so dark, you see nothing, nothing for hours. And when I close my eyes in the dark, I hear my mother’s voice. All around us nothing but sea, as if our boat were
the heart of all things. I open my eyes and whisper to the heavens. For prayers are the sails driving us. Life jackets will take care of the rest, only our hopes can they not bear. A man swims up to me: “Here, take him. I’m through. He’s a year old, and his name’s Bassem.” So I became a father for the first time. In the sea. The handover. The man with the life jacket
gave me his descendant as heir. Arrived in exile, I quickly learned
that the most important words are “residence permit”,
“sorry” and “thanks”. Arrived in exile, I saw a family
united after a long time. How the father wailed in happiness,
silently and from deep within, with all the shame
of someone who seldom weeps. I followed the family step by step,
but only with my eyes. Arrived in exile, but home soil is carried with us
on the soles of our feet. For I am from there and I have memories. I was born, as people are born: I have a mother who loves me. It breaks my heart: in the letters she wrote, I can see how, in writing,
her hand trembles. When I now say homesick,
I’m speaking of a dream, for my old home is hardly anymore. And if we stay here,
we’ll become like the beach, not quite sea and not quite land. And if we stay here,
we’ll become like the beach, not quite sea and not quite land. Arrived in exile,
an army welcomes me, the other army raises a foreign flag. Sometimes you sense love,
sometimes you sense hate. They look at you in your headscarf, at me and my passport. Habibi [darling], don’t get angry
with them, forgive them, they forgot love,
they forgot the Bible, wish them peace. Rather, show them we’re the type
ready to stand up again. Pull our legs from under us,
and we go on our hands! Pull our legs from under us,
and we go on our hands! Let’s make the most of our lives,
to the ends of our lives. And, who knows, maybe I will return home one day,
and not everything will have changed. Maybe I will see our old apple tree, or the playground
behind the rust-brown fence, and I will hug my brothers and sisters,
and I will kiss my mother, and joy will bite
with its little tooth in my heart. My name is Ahmed Yusuf,
father of Bassem, and I am a refugee. I fled Syria. My name is Daniel Levy,
and I am a refugee. I fled Germany. The year is 2015. The year is 1938. (Music) (Applause) Thank you very much. Thank you very much. We are Babak and Usama.
We are from RebellComedy in Germany. And we wrote this poem for everyone who had to leave behind his home,
his country, his family, his beloved ones. And we hope that this poem can contribute
to more tolerance towards refugees, because maybe one day we all need help. And let’s be more tolerant. AY: Thank you.
DL: Thank you very much. Have fun. (Applause)

6 thoughts on “A powerful poem about the refugee experience | Babak Ghassim and Usama Elyas | TEDxEastEnd

  1. Das kann keine verstehen nur wenn man das selber erlebt hat ๐Ÿ˜ฅ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

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