Hatice Akyün: Ali for dessert - Life in a new world
From there my father, along with other men who, like him, had come from Turkey, was sent on to Duisberg. They were met at the train station by the boss of a men’s hostel, who took them to their living quarters. Each room was shared between four men. Once, when I was a child, my father showed me the building. By then it was no longer lived in. But I was horrified by the conditions in which my father had had to live for several years. I was sorry for him, and swore to myself that I would do everything I could so that my parents would never have to live in poverty again.
In Duisberg my father was trained to become a miner in a matter of weeks. This was a huge adjustment for him. Back in Turkey he had been a farmer, and even as a young boy he was drawn up into the pastures to work as a shepherd, looking after herds of animals. Every day he saw the broad expanse of sky, the passing clouds, the often glistening sun. In Duisberg, he had to forget this bright and open world. On his first journey down the mine shaft, 1200 metres below the ground, my father was in mortal agony. He never got used to the darkness.
Copyright: Agentur Petra Eggers, Berlin
Translation by Jamie Searle, 2010