“There is no Aleppo anymore.”

Yesterday I was sitting on a tram with one of the Syrian refugees who I am teaching German to. He was showing me some pictures on his phone: Mother in Turkey, sister in Sweden, another sister in Bremen – his whole big, once united family is now just ripped apart and spread all around Europe. This is not the life they wished for. This is the life that was forced upon them.

He then showed me this picture

‘Aleppo’, he said proudly. There was love and affection to hear in his voice. He smiled.
‘Beautiful’, I replied.
He abruptly packed away his phone and said bitterly: ‘There is no Aleppo any more.’

So few words, but so much meaning in them!
So much pain, so much frustration!

I didn’t find words to respond with.
I tried to imagine WHAT this person felt. How is it to grew up in a country, be surrounded by your beloved ones and by people who share your mentality, have plans and dreams connected to this country and these people and then all of a sudden be thrown away out of it, out of your homeland? How is it to suddenly realize that there is nothing left from the place you used to live in, you imagined your future in? You have no motherland anymore. Or maybe you still do, in your heart. Not in reality, though.

I left my country too but I did so out of my own will. Frankly, I am very satisfied with the decision I made even though I had my hard times here as well. And even if I can’t imagine coming back there again, if something like this happened to my country, I would feel like a part of me was ruthlessly ripped away, like a part of me died.

How do they feel then? HOW???
I don’t think we, the lucky and the ‘good’ ones, could ever understand.


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