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Nasrin Siege
Dad will join us later

By Nasrin Siege

Cover: Dad will join us later

This is Simin. Simin is sitting on a bed. She's in green checked pyjamas. Simin is a bit skinny and she has black hair. It kinks all over her head and is therefore curly.

Simin's feet are covered in thick, colourful stripes. Simin counts the coloured stripes. She has known how to count for a long time now, and she has known the names for the colours in Arabic and in German for even longer.

The stripes are blue and red and green and white. One sock has nine stripes and one has eight. Simin counts once more. No, she didn't miscount. The left sock is missing a blue stripe.

Simin is here with her mum at Grandma's. Not that long. Since yesterday, actually. Grandma gave her the thick wool socks. Right when they first got there.

Dad hasn't come yet.

Simin frowns. Dad stayed back there.

The writer Nasrin Siege Photo: Ludwig Siege © Goethe-Institut Simin squeezes Lara. Lucky that Lara came with them. But she's so small. So small she fits in Simin's backpack. Simin smoothes Lara's yellow hair. Lara likes that. She looks at Simin with one eye. Lara knows that Dad hasn't come yet.

Mum's and Aunt Ezraa's voices are coming from the living room. Simin's heart starts leaping for joy. Simin jumps out of bed and runs into the living room. She looks at Mum and Aunt Esraa. Aunt Esraa's on the computer.

"You don't have to cry," she hears Mum say.

"I'm only crying because", says the aunt, "I'm glad you and Simin are in Germany". "And I'm glad you're in Sweden."

"There's Simin!" Aunt Ezraa waves. "And you have Lara with you!"

Simin waves back. Lara too.

Simin wiggles her foot in front of the screen.

"They're beautiful. Where'd you get those beautiful socks?"

There's a loud bang on the street. Simin and Lara hide quickly.

Mum looks under the bed.

"There's nothing to be afraid of. That was from an exhaust."

Mama holds out her hand. Simin shakes her head.

"Come on out."

Simin shakes her head.

Mum sighs and goes back to Aunt Esraa.

"My mother knitted these beautiful colourful socks for Simin." Mum keeps talking with Aunt Esraa.

They're warm too, Simin wants to call out to her. But the words don't want to come out because they're staying inside her somewhere.

"They must be warm", Aunt Esraa heard Simin's words that didn't come out. "Now that winter is coming."

Simin is furious at the words. Because they always get stuck somewhere. Because they don't come out. Because she wants to tell Aunt Esraa everything!

"You're safe in Germany", says Aunt Esraa.

Cautiously, Simin crawls out of her hiding place and lies down again in bed with Lara.

There's such a good smell coming from the kitchen. Rattling noises are coming from the kitchen. And water-sounds. Grandma-noises come from the kitchen. And it's not Christmas. Simin was at Grandma-Frankfurt's once. But that was a long time ago and Simin was even smaller than now. Mum was there too, and so was Dad.

Mum's standing in the doorway. Outside, the sun is shining. Mum goes to the window. “Zip” go the curtains and the sun falls on Simin's colourful bedspread. A great beam of sunlight tickles her eyes. But just a little bit.

Mum sits down by Simin. She strokes the wild curls off her face. Simin cuddles up to Mum.

"After breakfast, we'll go for a walk."

Simin nods.

A sweet breakfast cloud comes from the kitchen. Along with a song Grandma is singing. Simin and Mum laugh. Grandma has a nice voice. She used to be an opera singer. But that was a long time ago. As long as everything. Simin takes Lara in her arms and looks at the window.

"Come along", Mum's voice then says water and a bathtub.

Grandma trills like a bird.

Simin and Lara get up.

On Simin's feet shine the thick, colourful striped socks.

They all say Simin looks like Grandma. But Grandma is old and Simin is still a child. And Grandma's curls are white as clouds. Or Mother Hulda. Grandma can sing so beautifully. Simin shakes her head. She can't sing like Grandma can.

Grandma reaches out her arms. "There you are, my little one. Come sit at the table!" Grandma adjusts the chair. "Did you sleep well?" Simin nods.

Simin sits down at the table with Lara. Mum's at the table too. Mum pours herself a cup of coffee. Grandma pours cocoa into the bear mug. Simin likes the mug. It has a big body with five little bears playing in the grass. They must be sisters and brothers. Simin imagines herself playing with the bears. Simin laughs.

"What would you like to eat?" Grandma points at the kitchen table.

Simin stops playing with the bears.

"Cereal?"

Simin shakes her head.

"Maybe a piece of bread with butter and jam?"

Simin looks at Mum.

Illustration Nasrin SiegeLydia Salzer © Goethe-Institut

"Simin always needs some time in the morning", explains Mum.

Grandma nods and sits down at the table with them. Grandma eats bread with jam and drinks coffee with a little milk. Mum drinks her coffee black. Simin drinks cocoa from the bear cup.

"Say something!" Grandma looks at Simin.

Simin's mug falls over. The bears are swimming in cocoa on the table. Lara falls to the floor. Simin runs to Mum.

"It's all right." Mama takes Simin in her arms. "Not so bad!"

Grandma wipes the brown lake away from the table with a cloth.

"See?" smiles Grandma. "Everything's fine now!

Grandma wants to go to the doctor with Simin.

"She's been under enough stress already", says Mum. "She needs a little more time."

"But don't wait too long!" Grandma speaks sternly.

"I'm going for a walk with Simin now", says Mum. "And on our way we'll visit Philipp."

"Good idea", Grandma agrees. "I'll sing something for myself." Simin is looking forward to seeing Philipp. Because she knows him and because he's Dad's friend.

It's cold outside. The sun touches Simin's face. Only Simin's hands are cold. "You need gloves", says Mum.

Just a few people and a few dogs are in the park. The trees have no leaves. Their branches are like arms, Simin wants to say to Mum. But the words get stuck again. Somewhere in Simin. Mum looks at them. "Do you have something you want to tell me?" Simin nods.

All of a sudden a plane appears. It comes shooting out from among the clouds. It has a long white tail. Simin runs away. Very fast. Simin hides. The bushes are scratchy.

"There's nothing to be afraid of." Mum's sitting in front of the bushes. "There's no war here."

Simin used to play a lot with the other children on the street. But then the planes came and Simin and the other kids didn't play on the street so often.

But when they did play on the street and a plane came, Simin and the other children ran away. Then they took cover and didn't know where. The planes dropped explosives into the streets and houses. Then there was a bang and the streets and houses collapsed. Everybody was screaming. Simin screamed. Some people didn't get up after that.

One time Simin was out in the street with Mum. Mum wanted to see Dad at the hospital where he works. Fortunately, there were no planes in the sky. On the way Simin found Lara. Lara's name wasn't Lara then. That's when she was called Doll. Doll was lying under a broken window of a house. Only her right eye was missing. Simin was looking for the eye. But she didn't find it. The doll's unblinking eye looked a little sad. It's brown, by the way.

Simin took Doll to Dad. Dad's a doctor and he works at the hospital. Simin showed him Lara. At that time she was already called Lara, because Simin gave her the name Lara. Dad examined Lara's eye, which wasn't there. "There's nothing you can do", Dad shook his head. "Never mind", Simin said. "I like her with one eye, too." Dad smiled. Simin remembers Dad's smile.

"It's time you flew home with Simin", Dad said.

"I don't want to go to Germany without you”, said Mum.

"Understand me, Lisa! I'm still needed here!" Dad took Mum in his arms. "And we'll try to Skype, right?"

"Skype?" Mum looked so funny, in a way Simin didn't like. "Are you dreaming? It's hardly working anymore!"

"Sometimes it still works", and now Dad looked in a way Simin doesn't like. "And I'll be there soon", Dad promised.

Mum, Simin and Lara took the bus. Simin looked out of the window. Until Dad couldn't be seen anymore.

"Why is Dad staying here?"

"Because he's a doctor and he wants to help", Mom said.

"He's coming", Simin told Mama.

"True..."

"When is he coming?"

"Soon..."

There were a lot of women and children on the bus. The bus drove for a long time. Simin was asleep most of the time. Simin woke up when the bus stopped. They all got out and had something to eat and drink. Simin and Mum had to change buses. It drove for a very long time again and stopped a few times until it pulled over at the airfield. Simin and Mum and Lara flew to Grandma-Frankfurt. Simin calls her that because she lives in Frankfurt. Dad's mum lives in Damascus and that's why Simin calls her Grandma-Damascus.

Simin likes Philipp. Dad and Philipp studied in Frankfurt. They've been friends ever since. That was many years ago. Simin wasn't born then. First Dad and Mum had to get to know each other at university.

Philipp kneels before Simin. He has cheerful blue eyes and a short blond plait. Philipp smiles. "What's your doll's name?" asks Philipp. Simin opens her mouth, moves her tongue, her lips. She tries so hard until she cries. Philipp now looks gravely at Mum, who is sitting on a chair. He slowly stands up and sits down on the chair at the table.

"She was still talking in the bus from Aleppo"; Mum again looks funny in the way Simin doesn't like. "I don't know exactly when she stopped talking." Simin runs to Mum and puts her arm around her.

"Why is Rami staying in Aleppo?"

"Because he's a doctor", Mama says.

"Typical Rami", Simin hears Philipp say. "But I can really understand him."

Philipp and Mum talk for a while and Simin listens carefully. There are words Simin doesn't know. There are words Simin has heard before. "German passport" - which Dad doesn't have because he's Syrian and Mum and Simin do have.

"Get in touch with me if you need any help", says Philipp with an earnest look.

"I will", says Mum.

"Give Simin a little more time. She's been through a lot and now she needs a rest."

"I know", Mum takes a deep breath. "And she misses Rami."

"I came to you mainly because of my mother." Mum gets up. She takes Simin's hand and laughs softly. "She said I should take Simin to the doctor."

Philipp gets up too. He hugs Mum. Then he kneels before Simin again.

"You're safe here", he says. "And everything will be all right. You'll see."

"Dad... is coming... he said so", Simin listens to her own words. They came all by themselves. As free as sunbeams in the morning and the rustling of leaves in the park. Very softly. But they're there.

Cover Short Stories © Goethe-Institut Here you will find all eight short stories as
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