Illustration: Paul Aitchison
Illustration: Paul Aitchison

A woman is her own country

The Making of a Refugee: Part 3 – A series on Afghans in Germany

After the thrill of reunion, a haze.

I spent the last few days of Ramzan in a fog, away from the rituals that marked my days of fasting, away from my family that was observing the fasts. The brilliant sunsets at 10 pm disoriented me; I was not used to seeing the sky lit up so late. This was the furthest north I had ever been, and from this location the cycles of dusk and dawn were no longer familiar indicators for eating and abstaining but a confusing juxtaposition of daylight on night-time chores.  And then there was the 'normal' summer, unfolding all around me. The parks were full; there were weekly concerts, extended picnics, a thousand barbeques everywhere.

There were moments when these worlds coincided. Walking down a busy street one afternoon, I heard a quiet but cheery "Ramzan Mubarak" between a young man and an elderly lady in a headscarf. They exchanged greetings in Dari as they made their way to see a room for him to rent. I felt miles away from their patient abstinence. Like I had travelled a great distance from things I knew well.

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Himal Southasian