Coming to the camp, and memories from home

"If someone would ask what I miss the most from home, I would tell them I missed the smell of my mother and my brother. And the voice of the man I loved."

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Silan sammen med sin mor og bror inden flugten. Privat foto.

Silan sammen med sin mor og bror inden flugten. Privat foto.

By Silan Deniz Teyhani, volunteer in Trampoline House's journalism group Trampoline Times'

I have been living in a camp in Denmark for about four and a half months. The day that I arrived at the camp is a day I will never forget. It was the first week of February and it was white all around. The snowflakes and wind made such beautiful sounds that I almost forgot where I was. I can still smell the snow… I was wearing a green floral print dress and snow fell on my neck and on my dear friend’s scarf. I had sought asylum. Now I was being taken into a room with my luggage in my hand, filled with my memories.

As I entered the room, I thought of my room in Mersin that I had left behind. There were posters decorating the walls, books, my toys that had never left me alone, and all the memories. A teardrop fell from my eye. I took a deep breath and felt the cold creep inside me. As a woman who had grown up in Mersin, I was feeling exceptionally cold. I went inside the room and placed my luggage down. I wondered if there was Internet, because I wanted to call my mother right away.

When I called, our relationship became deeper when I said, “mother” and heard her say,  “my daughter”.  My mother had not only been my mother; she had also been my sister, my confidant, my friend, my father, and even my comrade. I suddenly realized I missed her a lot. I tried to stand upright, but just wished I could go back to those days when I rested my head on her knees and she would caress my hair, telling me the story of Lilith. My mother would always tell me, “You will be a strong woman”. Yet, for the first time in my 25 years of life, I felt like I was standing upright and being defeated at the same time. You might wonder how such conflicting emotions could exist at once.

I then tried to sleep. After two hours had passed, there was a knock on the door and a new woman was brought into the room. I learned she was from Syria, and just like me, she was cold and scared. She looked at me and smiled. I asked her if she was hungry and she replied that she was cold.  I gave her a kalpak that I took out from my luggage. Even though we kept quiet, our eyes told each other our stories. You know how they say, the eyes are the mirrors of the soul; and people know each other from their sorrows. We hugged each other and fell asleep keeping an eye on one another.

I gave my written statement the next morning. At lunch, I heard a woman ask her friend to bring her a knife in Turkish and I passed mine to her. I asked her if she was from Turkey and she replied, “No, I am Azeri”. I was so happy to find someone who could understand me. But shortly after, the wind went out of my sails as I was transferred to a different camp that same day.

The thing I will never forget from this new camp was the smell from the toilet. And there was no Internet. I could not eat. I looked at my plate and started crying. Looking back, I realize how much I cried those days. A woman approached me and touched my shoulder, asking in English if I was okay. I told her I was and thanked her. Her smile was so warm, making my chilly spirit also warm up for a moment. We would soon become friends. I wanted to write the next day and I scribbled a few things down.

Now, I am looking over my life and myself. I suppose it is a sort of a self-criticism. I live someplace very far from my country. A popular motto at home is ‘you will never walk alone’. If someone would ask what I miss the most from home, I would tell them I missed the smell of my mother and my brother. And the voice of the man I loved.

I think about the days when I would get mad at my mother, when I would get tense and take it out on her. I think now how absurd that was, Right now, I wish I could taste her haricot beans the way she prepared them. I wish I could hear my brother ask me, “What’s up Deno?”. I would like to go two years back - the best year of my life.

I think about the man I loved, his voice is in my ears as he read Adnan Yücel out loud as always; “A woman that drinks rakı is beautiful” he said and I burst into laughter. He told me ”How beautiful you laugh, never be afraid of life”. I was still laughing as he left. Because leaving is sometimes also a part of love.

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