Traces

Yasser Niksada

Panshir, Afghanistan, raised in Iran


Be next to me and see
What has happened to me.
It is over, the trace still in my heart.
No room for me to sleep on this bus.
Withered feet, the dream sunk into the eye.
The police said stop.
Go back, go back.
All then in the train car, just me alone on the tracks.
The rubber boat sank and my heart, hot for Europe, turned cold.
The world slept, only we were awake,
Hungry, thirsty, tired.
We left; it will be more difficult to return.
All this tearing oneself up for a little bit of rest.
Not my rest.
The rest of my family.

 

Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
Foto © Rottkay

Yasser Niksada (*2002)

Yasser Niksada comes from the Panshir valley in Afghanistan. Ten years ago, the Niksadas fled to Teheran, where the family live as refugees. But that's no life, says Yasser. That's why the family sent him on a journey to Europe. In Germany, Yasser misses his family. Photo © Rottkay

Without You

Shahzamir Hataki

Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan


Living my life here without you
Is difficult, father.
I am thirsty for your tears.
And to cry here among these people is difficult, father.
When you stride there and walk over thorns, father,
I feel the pain of your feet.
I wish to throw myself into your arms.
To kiss you from this distance is difficult, father.
I would tear my lips off to do it,
But to mourn without lips is difficult, father.

You are the most beautiful flower in a field of flowers.
You are the color of the sun, which bows at night.
You shine like the stars, my father,
And you are light as the moon.

 

Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
Foto © Rottkay

Shahzamir Hataki (*2000)

Shahzamir Hataki from Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, is his parents’ only son. They wanted to secure his survival and his future and therefore sent him away. On the passage to Greece, the boat sank and Shahzamir barely escaped death. Photo © Rottkay

Women

Samiullah Rasouli

Ghazni, Afghanistan

 

When I say women, I mean real women,
Those with eyebrows, real noses, and shoulders.
Who belong only to themselves from the beginning,
Who are not selfish but proud of their gifts,
Who love themselves in their simplicity,
And want to be only themselves
And not resemble another.
These are the women I mean when I say women.

The light in her gaze is like the scent of Kobeko*
Her tender hand is incomparably precious.
Her wisdom shines forth from beneath her make-up.
She walks with beauty in public.
The watering mouths of the gawkers do not bother her.
The self-confident, strong woman pursues her gifts and talents.

Some women stay at home, they dissolve
And turn to water.
And the ones who go out turn to bread and food.
And when I say women, I mean these women.

*Perfume named “Mountain to Mountain”
Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay

Samiullah Rasouli (*1999)

Samiullah Rasouli grew up in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The region is highly contested today. His father died four years ago. Samiullah was on the run for four weeks. Now he has begun training as a trade merchant. His poems are about love and longing for his father. Photo © Rottkay

Only You

Mahdi Hashemi

Ghazni, Afghanistan, raised in Iran


We now see times
In which you are there,
And only you.

You love and you are not loved.
You feel intimacy and nobody is there
To lean on.

You have everything, and yet you have nothing.
The wound hidden
Behind the veil of tears,
The secret remains unread.


Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay

Mahdi Hashemi (*2000)

When he was an infant, his family fled from Afghanistan to Iran. There, he grew up as a refugee, close to the capital Tehran. Mahdi Hashemi writes about why Afghan refugees in Iran even apologise for breathing the air there. Photo © Rottkay

Mother

Kahel Kaschmiri

Ghazni, Afghanistan


If only you were here,
I would kiss your feet.
I would bow before you
And kiss your face.

And everywhere you went and lingered,
I want to go and cry.


Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
Foro © Rottkay

Kahel Kaschmiri (*2000)

Kahel lived in Ghazni, Afghanistan. A Taliban commander was after him. Kahel fled his country, via Iran, in the trunk of a smuggler’s car. In Germany, he is confused by the lives of Europeans. Photo © Rottkay

Hopeless

Ghani Ataei

Herat, Afghanistan


They killed in the village before my eyes.
Four days I could not speak.
Four days I was mute.

Until I understood.
Nobody expects anything from anybody.
And anybody can do anything to anyone.

No matter how much older I grow,
How grown up I will be,
When I am uneasy and full of sorrow,
I will wish my mother by my side.
But I am hopeless
When it comes to the world.

 

Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
Foto © Rottkay

Ghani Ataei (*2000)

Ghani Ataei grew up in the old trading town of Herat, on the border with Iran. His father was killed during the war, his mother died in an accident. As an orphan, he went to Germany alone. Photo © Rottkay

Beginning of life

Mohamad Mashghdost

Bandar Anzali, Iran



The beginning of life was
That I did not exist.

There was a mother.
She was my God.

It was an unrequited love.
There was a father.
He was never there.

The body came to rest
But not the mind.
I was without solace.

The sister wanted to be a mother to me.
But she was tired.
I loved the mother.
She died.

I wanted to leave
And I stayed.
I wanted to stay
And I left.

Leaving was not important
And neither was staying.
I was important,
I, who did not exist.


Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
The Poetry Project, Foto © Rottkay

Mohamad Mashghdost (*1997)

The son of a taxi driver from Bandar-e Ansali, Iran, set off for Europe in autumn. At home, he was afraid of being drafted into the war in Syria. In Berlin, Mohamad Mashghdost wrote some outstanding poems about the lack of meaning and his native Iran. Today he lives in Husum. Photo © Rottkay

Tomorrow

Ali Ahmade

Bamyan, Afghanistan


Be calm, you say to me.
Reminding me that you are still there.
What will be tomorrow? I don’t know.
Forgive me, for I can not speak of tomorrow.
But today I am still here.

Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth

Ali Ahmade (*2000)

The poem describes his thoughts about his mother before he gets on a boat in Turkey. He does not know whether he will survive the passage to Greece.

Like An Arrow

Mahdi Hashemi

Ghazni, Afghanistan, aufgewachsen in Iran

It took a month: the trip
That wasn’t a trip at all,
But rather a horror
Towards the land of hope.

Now I am waiting for a paper
That may contain bitterness and grief.
And I feel like an arrow.
Released.
Which should return
To its bow.


Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay

Mahdi Hashemi (*2000)

When he was an infant, his family fled from Afghanistan to Iran. There, he grew up as a refugee, close to the capital Tehran. Mahdi Hashemi writes about why Afghan refugees in Iran even apologise for breathing the air there. Photo © Rottkay

Homeland

Mohamad Mashghdost

Bandar Anzali, Iran


I’ve left my home, my heart.
Now it is like sleep and dream
And burns in the depths of my body.
The weeping mother has sent me forth.

The troubles are over, I said.
I packed and went on my way.
Body and soul I left to the ocean,
God, I still exist, thank you.

May God curse the sea that devours bodies.
Prayer and love for my sister helped me arrive.
But my eyes have seen the colors of despair.

 

Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
Foto © Rottkay

Mohamad Mashghdost (*1997)

The son of a taxi driver from Bandar-e Ansali, Iran, set off for Europe in autumn. At home, he was afraid of being drafted into the war in Syria. In Berlin, Mohamad Mashghdost wrote some outstanding poems about the lack of meaning and his native Iran. Today he lives in Husum. Photo © Rottkay

Love

Samiullah Rasouli

Ghazni, Afghanistan


If you love me for my beauty,
Then love me not.
Love instead the sun and its rays.

If you love me for my youth,
Then love me not.
Fall in love instead with the spring,
For it comes again each year.

If you love me for my money,
Then love me not.
Love instead the Pari.*

If you love me because I am the right boy,
Then you should love me.
Love me as long,
As long as I can return your love.

*mythological fish that carries rubies and emeralds in its mouth
 
Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay

Samiullah Rasouli (*1999)

Samiullah Rasouli grew up in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The region is highly contested today. His father died four years ago. Samiullah was on the run for four weeks. Now he has begun training as a trade merchant. His poems are about love and longing for his father. Photo © Rottkay

High and Madness

Shahzamir Hataki

Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan


Love is a high and madness
And strange to the world,
She sits there always, from dusk until dawn.
Love means a smile in eyes cried wet,
Love means to throw away one’s life.
Love means to shed tears.
Love means to be and thereby burn.
Love means to risk your life.

Did I not suffer this pain,
The expression of disappointment would not stay on my face.

If only the last page of love could be the message
That the rain will still stop.

Had I known that love does something like that,
I would have put love in chains.

 

Translation from German: Maxmarie Wilmoth
Foto © Rottkay

Shahzamir Hataki (*2000)

Shahzamir Hataki from Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, is his parents’ only son. They wanted to secure his survival and his future and therefore sent him away. On the passage to Greece, the boat sank and Shahzamir barely escaped death. Photo © Rottkay

My Last Summer in Afghanistan

Kahel Kaschmiri

Ghazni, Afghanistan


…was hot; the rays of the sun burned so much
that I could barely work.
But is it possible not to work?
Not working means to go hungry and live on the street.
Where would my family and I have found shelter?
I sprinkled water on my face, put on a thin white shirt, and went to the bazaar to attend to the customers at the shop.

In Berlin, on the other hand, I didn’t even notice the summer. It was almost always cold. Only a few days were hot. And on those days, everyone walked in the streets naked. Or lay in the parks. Or went swimming. And I was astonished - how could it be that they nakedly walked in the streets or lay in the park and still found something to eat in the evening?

But the summer in Afghanistan was not just hot.
It hurt. There was the suffering of my mother. The poverty and desperation of my father. The hopelessness of my sister, forced to shield herself from greedy stares by covering herself from head to toe. In the end, she was married off, although she is younger than me. And now she already has a son. I ask myself, is that her son - or is it her doll?

During my last summer in Afghanistan, an armed motorcyclist shot a policeman on my way to work. He fled. The policeman had just been married. It was the beginning of his life. All he wanted was to do his job and earn money.
He died within a second.
By the time the police came, he had already parted from this world.

Do you want me to tell you more about my last summer in Afghanistan?

I loved riding my motorcycle, roaming around and speeding up.The air was blowing in my face and the sun was shining and I opened the throttle. I was only thinking of Ghazni’s beautiful nature as I accelerated.
Suddenly, a car overtook me. It was driving slowly. The driver gave me a sign. Stop!
I was afraid. I stepped on the gas and fled. I called my cousin: I shouted: “Open the gate, there are people following me. They want to kidnap me.”
It was the ones who are after pretty boys.
At incredible speed, I flew in his direction, towards his house. He opened the gate and I burst in. I took a deep breath and thanked God.

Do you want me to tell you more about my last summer in Afghanistan?

After a year away from home, I was relieved to finally have a place to stay, a room just for me. Four walls to myself, and a key for a door, which I could dispose of as I wished.
I sighed, opened the door, and fell asleep from exhaustion.
My eyes were not quite closed yet when a door opened and I felt the heavy presence of someone. I kept my eyes closed, the blanket over my face.
Suddenly I felt the heaviness of his body on my body, and I broke out in a sweat. I began to shiver.
I opened my mouth, but no sound came out.
I heard the being say: What are you doing here and why did you come here?
I began to scream so loudly that I woke up from the sound.

He was gone and I asked myself, who might it have been?

 

Michael Krasnov answered to this Text with »My last Summer in Berlin«.
Translation from German: Hanna Baumann
Foro © Rottkay

Kahel Kaschmiri (*2000)

Kahel lived in Ghazni, Afghanistan. A Taliban commander was after him. Kahel fled his country, via Iran, in the trunk of a smuggler’s car. In Germany, he is confused by the lives of Europeans. Photo © Rottkay

Breathe

Ronja Lutz

Berlin, Germany

 

(Nafas kashidan, rasidan.) Breathe. Breathe!

It’s getting better already.

Better every day.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Two years already.

Whole. Breathe. Afghanistan. In.

He and I.

And he misses his family.

Of course he does. Certainly.

His laughter is quiet, like grandmother’s when she tells of her youth in the camp.

“What can you do.”

How it was then.

But then is now.

 

Ronja Lutz (23)

grew up in Berlin. In her work she tries to encourage intellectuals to research as effectively as possible. She also has a liking for soup, philosophical discussions at midnight and glitter. One day she would like to learn tap dancing. Her poem is about war and flight, in the past and present.

Home

Mahdi Rezaei

Teheran, Iran

 

Live without home? I don’t want that.

Just as the mind can’t be without the body.

The blood and earth have been sucked from my land for years.

People, children, murdered. Lives destroyed.

Home? People were alone with their pain.

Home? People were abandoned without help.

Tears flow

Things are not good for my home –

Wounded by hostile friends

Wounded by allies

In mourning, defenceless

People looked for opportunities,

They got education, did everything.

Without prospects.

Home?

They too are leaving the country now.

 

Mahdi Rezaei (16)

was born and grew up in Teheran in Iran. He comes from an Afghan refugee family. In 2015 he fled from Teheran to Germany.

Love and Separation in Germany

Mahdi Rezaei

Teheran, Iran

 

Love is a matter that many are concerned with.

Some are successful, others fail.

 

What happens to those who love?

To those who stay together and those who part ways?

 

I confess: For us young men it is difficult to walk in the streets,

in the clubs, at school.

When we see how they present themselves, how they talk, how they dress.

 

Humans have ears, noses, eyes, senses.

They hear. They smell. They see. Feel desire.

Girls and boys.

 

You know, a boy falls in love via the eye.

And when he falls in love, he pursues that love.

But does he find it too?

In this state, there are only two options.

Either they stay together and grow old together.

There are only a few of that sort.

Or they break up after a short time.

 

But in the short time they are together, they do many things together.

They give each other deep insights into their soul.

A deep connection develops.

We men fear being exposed to ridicule.

That’s why separation is so hard for us men.

 

Mahdi Rezaei (16),

born in Iran as a refugee to Afghan parents, on love and separation in Germany.

Herr Friedrich, King of the Immigration Office

Robina Karimi

Kabul, Afghanistan

 

Since I came to Germany

I have met warm-hearted and malicious people.

Well-wishers supported me again and again,

while malicious people put obstacles in my path.

The person who ruins a week of my life every month

is none other than the esteemed Herr Friedrich.

He works for the immigration office.

Every time I go there he is ready with a comment to intimidate me.

And if I then cry, I get the feeling he is pleased.

When speaking to my lawyer, he told him

“Sometimes you win, sometimes I win.”

I wish someone would tell Herr Friedrich what is at stake here.

Not the daily battle between him and my lawyer.

Not which of the two wins or loses.

What is at stake is nothing other than my life.

Herr Friedrich is someone who thinks all Afghans are dishonest, liars

and good-for-nothings.

And I have to say, again and again,

that none of us came here of our own free will.

No one wants to leave their family and their country,

however devastated and decayed their homeland may be.

This week I was at the immigration office again.

I waited two hours for my appointment.

Then I was sent away again.

It was Herr Friedrich himself who turned me away.

When he saw how dejected I was, he gave a self-satisfied grin.

Waiting again.

For five hours.

For the next appointment.

I heard that Germany is the country

where people are treated justly.

So I hope that Herr Friedrich,

who has the arrogance to behave like the king of the immigration office,

and thinks himself omnipotent in the world of asylum,

gets his just desserts for his behaviour.

I asked the people in the Senate

what they would have done if they had been in my position.

They had no answer.

 

Robina Karimi (17)

fled alone from Kabul in Afghanistan. Her mother died young, and her beloved brother is still in their homeland. As she was categorised as being of age, although her passport states otherwise, Robina had to leave sheltered housing and now lives with her sister, who has also come to Berlin to work.

Violence and Pride

Robina Karimi

Kabul, Afghanistan

 

Do I not have the right to choose my partner?

What makes an Afghan woman different from a German woman?

Both are women!

Is there a difference between being German and being Afghan?

The burden of virtue lies on the shoulders of the woman.

A man does what he wants.

But if I let my will run free, I am the one who is bad.

I am a human being, I breathe, I want to live, I want to be free and fly.

And enjoy the life God has given me.

Why do you want to take this life away from me, to deny me freedom?

I too am a human.

 

Boy, this is not Afghanistan!

Look around you, open your eyes.

The things you did to me there, you cannot do to a girl here.

Here you do not decide alone.

Here she too decides whether she wants to be with you or leaves.

Here our rights are the same.

You have to recognise me.

Here it is enough to be a woman.

 

Robina (17)

from Afghanistan, Kabul, on violence and injured pride when love is gone.

 

Alone

Robina Karimi

Kabul, Afghanistan

 

Alone in a room

Alone in the dark

Alone and without my family,

I learned what loneliness is.

It lay down beside me.

And yesterday’s thoughts turned,

turned the whole night – yesterday

yesterday, yesterday – in my head.

Yesterday, when I was still with my family.

And now! Where am I now?

Will I see my family again?

But even after this night, morning came.

Solace sat down,

took a seat next to me:

“The world, the world is sometimes smaller than you realise.”

“Mark this!”

“Where were you yesterday, and where are you today?”

“At a stroke your whole life changed.”

And now?

And now, every day I get a little more accustomed to being alone.

 

Robina Karimi (17)

fled alone from Kabul in Afghanistan. Her mother died young, and her beloved brother is still in their homeland. As she was categorised as being of age, although her passport states otherwise, Robina had to leave sheltered housing and now lives with her sister, who has also come to Berlin to work.

You Are No Longer at the Beginning

Sophie Senger

Berlin, Germany

 

In the beginning is injustice

It gnaws at you

Like the hunger that devours your stomach

Then comes the will

The will to change something

It tugs at you, like the wind at sails

You look up

You see the birds flying south

As if they were weightless

As if they consisted of feathers and freedom

The sound of waves encircles you and you sink far down

But sinking, you feel free

You see the injustice, the hunger, the fear and the grief

Swimming past you

You leave everything behind

All that remains is freedom

When you reach the ground, you are a bird

Nothing pulls, tears or pushes anymore

The pain is over

You are a completely different creature

Nothing matters any more, except your will

In the beginning is injustice

But you are no longer at the beginning

 

Sophie Senger (18)

has just graduated from the Bertha von Suttner High School in Berlin. She loves to hear stories and poems by other people and wishes people were more open to the unknown so that they could help instead of hating each other.

Is It a Crime to Be an Afghan?

Robina Karimi

Kabul, Afghanistan

 

Is it a crime,

to have been born in Afghanistan?

Why do I ask?

Because as an Afghan you are treated with disrespect all over the world.

Why is an Afghan not entitled to education in Iran?

Why do we Afghans in Germany

not have the same rights of residence as other refugees?

Even if we were born outside Afghanistan,

we are still stigmatised as Afghans.

Even if we have never seen the country in our lives,

we are reduced to being Afghans only, degraded – or shall we say:

disregarded.

Do you really think

it is easy to leave your mother, your father and your sister?

Do you really think

it is easy to be alone and far from your loved ones?

Do you really think

we want to be alone because we like it?

Only God is destined to be alone.

Only God alone.

And therefore I ask you, in all countries where we Afghans are,

trying to live – stop mistreating us.

Every country produces its benefactors, geniuses and criminals.

But why are we, as Afghans,

all punished if someone breaks the rules or behaves badly? Why are fingers pointed at all of us?

It is not a crime to be an Afghan.

Because I too am a human being.

 

Robina Karimi (17),

fled from Kabul alone. She describes the mistrust against which she has to struggle as an Afghan.

My last Summer in Berlin

Michael Krasnov

raised in Berlin, Germany


My last summer in Berlin was warm,
The sun’s rays burned so strongly,
That I went swimming almost every day.

Who already works during summer break?
Not working means at most,
Not being able to buy a new iPhone this year.
I splashed my face with water,

Picked up an ice cream and chilled with my friends,
To see them before I left for vacation.

Upon arrival in Turkey,
I almost didn’t notice the summer at all,
Because the hotel was always air-conditioned.
It was only hot outside.

The tourists all ran to the beach,
Or laid in the spa,
Or went on sight-seeing tours.

And I was amazed,
How was it that they ran to the beach,
Or laid in the spa or went on sight-seeing tours,
And still managed to get something from the buffet.

But summer in Germany wasn’t just warm,
It hurt. It was the pain of my friends,
My brother’s desperation, my sister’s hopelessness,
Because we all had to go back to school so soon.

I wonder,
Did summer break only pass so quickly for me,
Or did it feel the same for others?

 

This is an answer to Kahel Kaschmiri's »My last Summer in Afghanistan«
Translation from German: Hanna Baumann

Michael Krasnov (*1999)

Michael Krasnov ist raised in Berlin and goes to Friedrich-Ebert-Oberschule. | Photo © Rottkay