Behind us: my country! All that I am, was born there. All that was home to me: The football ground where we played as children the smile of my first love, the apple tree in our park, and the small lake, hidden behind the hill, The hot tea on the tin tablet Old story tellers, wrinkles from laughter decorate their faces And all that kidding around on the way home from school At night waiting until the parents sleep and out we go again My borther’s squeaking bike, Nerudas poems and the smell of wet gras Radios that nevertheless transmit creaking sounds like melodies The singing of my sister in the morning My mother! My mother with her constant money troubles And I don’t know why: lady bugs All that was home to me All that was once home to me But I could not stay anymore Behind us: the war! The fresh grave of my parents.
The last gravel still falling, has not found its place yet My grief so fresh, no chance to come to terms with, I couldn’t stay any longer, they spoke of us as the presumed dead Our people forced into trains
that roll on in the steam of the engines Our doors smashed, shop windows in shards Our parents scared, siblings maltreated and cruel news from friends, those that were still there… Most disappeared! You couldn’t stay any longer, not a single day. The next step out of my town, then the last step out of my country. And the worst step then – onto this corroding boat that will roll but keep us for the time, and then it will sink surrender us to the ocean. In the ocean so grim, the moon hiding behind the clouds. The night so dark, you see nothing. For hours – nothing And when I close the eyes in the dark,
I hear my mother’s voice, Around us only the ocean,
as if our boat was the heart of all things. I open my eyes and wisper towards the sky – these prayers are our sails. Life jackets will take over the rest,
Only the hope they cannot hold A man swims up to me:
“Here – you take him, I won’t make it.” He is one year old, Bassem his name The father glides out of his jacket,
into the endlessly dark blue. This way I became father for the first time. In the ocean? Via handover? The man in the life jacket gave his inheritance to me, as heritage. Having arrived in Exile I soon discovered: The most important words are: residence permit, excuse me and thank you! Having arrived in exile I saw a family reunited after a long time How the father whimpers in happiness,
Quietly and from the deepest heart, With all the shame of a person that doesn’t cry often. I followed the family, step by step,
but only with my gaze Having arrived in exile, still with soil from the native country on the sole of my feet. Because I am from there, with memories I was born like the people are born:
I have a mother who loves me and it breaks my heart, in the letters she wrote, I see, how her hand writing nowadays shakes. When I now say homesickness, I say dream, because home is hardly there anymore. And do we stay here,will we become like the beach: not quite ocean, not quite land? And if we stay here, we might become like the beach: not quite ocean, not quite land! Having arrived in exile, one host says welcome. The other host raises foreign flags. Sometimes you feel the love, sometimes you sense the hatred. They look at your headscarf, they look into my passport. But don’t be angry, habibi, forgive them,
They forgot their love, their bible. Wish them peace. On the contrary, show them: We are tumblers, yank away our legs, and we will walk our hands! Yank away our legs, and we will walk our hands, make the best of our lives, until our life’s end, and who knows maybe I return to my home one day,
and not everything will have changed maybe I see our old apple tree,
or the football field behind the rusty fence, and I hug my siblings, and I kiss my mother, and happiness bites it’s little tooth into my heart. My name is Ahmed Yusuf, father of Bassem. I am a refugee. I escaped from Syria! My name is Daniel Levy and I am a refugee. I escaped from Germany! The year is 2015! The year is 1938!