Berlin is beautiful. She will tell you if you ask. If you don’t ask, she won’t tell you nothing. She will just look at you ignore you . Her gaze, distant and forlorn. She doesn’t have any ounce of interest you. Not a guy like you. She doesn’t care about any guy. She’s always looking out to world. Foraging for answers without questions. Maybe she’s thinking of the skyline, maybe it’s the beautiful roads. Maybe it’s the unrelenting traffic. Or maybe it’s the religion. There are no rising minarets here. The calls for the afternoon prayer are muffled, at least not heard. That pains her in a way. It’s only Allah she understands and likes. She also likes his prophet Muhammad. You told her that maybe Muhammad is like Jesus. She just looked at you, her gaze hardening into frown. Then she said.
“You’re joking obviously.”
Oh she just learnt this words from those American novels she reads online. There was an an unsaid pain in those words.
They gushed out of her mouth like vitriol from a bottomless abyss of poison. She then ran out of the room. Never did that ever since she moved in with you. Well, technically, she didn’t move in. Your parents brought her home, “our little service to humanity.” That’s how they called it, their idea of penance.
She rarely talks of home. If she does, it’s the only time she smiles. Never laughs. Never laughs. It’s a beautiful smile, she looks like baby in it, vulnerable and pulchritude. It’s the kind of smile you kill for. She yaps about home, Syria. A Jewel of the East, so she says. You tell her she’s the only Jewel from the East. She ignores you, the girl, always ignoring you. Maybe she’s not thankful enough. So you let her be. She’s already been through enough.
Her mood is always changing. Like colors of a confused chameleon. You can never tell when she’s happy or sad. But when she’s in the mood, girl talks of her home. Before Assad’s minions blew it up. With Putin’s bombs of course. She liked the freedom, the sun and everything. But most importantly, it was home! The air tastes different in Berlin, winter is different in Berlin. I don’t think Allah approves my stay here. You tell her that Allah wouldn’t like her to die in Syria. She frowns at you. You don’t know a thing about Allah! And don’t tell me about that guy, what was his name? “Jesus” You say smiling, “Christ”. You like her fieriness, there’s something about it which lights up your German nerves. Or is it Gestapo demons. Who cares anyway.
She’s never quite understood the culture here. She always puts on the Hijab. Sometimes thinks of ditching it, but without the hijab she feels naked she says. One time you asked her about the Hijab, mocked her that it was like a cassock. Silently, like a spectre, she measured you. Then launched into a monologue which has remained tatooed in your brain since then.
” Mat, you’re a funny guy. I can’t blame you though, but don’t again compare my glorious hijab to those sacks that priests wear. You call them cassocks, it sounds like sacks for sure. But I like your church priests though, they have helped me a lot. Islam and Christianity should be one.”
And people here in Berlin are crazy. Like, I walk and they stare at me like I am wall of Berlin, rebuilt. I feel like shouting at them . Tell them that it’s my culture, it’s what my grandmothers wore, it’s what my descendants should wear, but again, I’m scared. What if they strip me? What if they burn me? Maybe I should wear mini skirts more. The weird looks will fade away for sure. But what will Allah and think of it, what will my ancestors think of it. Teachings of the prophet say that a woman’s body is her only her husband’s business.”
This is the part you will laugh out loud. And tell her.
“Sharafa (butterfly), here you won’t get an husband if you continue hiding behind the defences of those clothes.”
She gazes at you, disdain suffusing through her forlorn face.
“All that is in the hands of Allah, not good for nothing boys like you.
But I swear in the name of my forefathers that I won’t splay my flesh out here for the men of Berlin. In the name of fitting in.”
You tell her to suit yourself.
That girl, she’s never grateful for nothing. She forgets that she’s living in your parents house. And soon you’re going to ask for some piece of her, she better complies. Or else…
By Momanyi Osoro from Kenya.
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