Throughout history, the movement of people has enriched culture, enabled widespread knowledge sharing and accelerated human progress. Migration is embedded into our DNA as humans and many of us have a story of migration to tell; from our own life experience, that of our family, or the people who we interact with every day. We are pleased to share a poem submitted by Laura Lamberti, Qadr.
One night you asked me if I knew what qadr(1) meant.
My cheeks burned but I did not blush.
Maktub(2), I tentatively answered after a minute or so, after rummaging through the memories of books and
dictionaries across years and cities.
I did not remember when I learned that word or where I was when I did,
But I wondered what you were doing at that exact moment, where you were in that instant.
Almost, you said.
Staring at my ceiling, the northern border of the microcosm we created for ourselves, inscribed in the country we
had unintentionally found ourselves in,
you asked me what determines where we are born;
Why I was born in my country and you were born in yours,
Still convinced I believed your home bordered Israel but not Turkey.
When we said goodbye you played Kadhem Saher singing Nizar Qabbani’s words, and I knew you were preparing
You solemnly announced you had a confession to make.
I told you I knew from the moment your friend introduced himself on the night we met.
You smiled, then cursed yourself for having underestimated my language skills,
You asked me why I never said anything about it. I said it was not up to me to do so.
It was a joke you said, one you had not started but had gone along with, and did not know how to break out of.
I always wondered whether that was the truth.
I always wondered whether it instead had something to do with that time the police stopped you,
To check for drugs.
I always wondered whether it instead had something to do with that time I woke up to you talking to your brother’s
teacher on the phone, after which I asked myself when you had become the person to speak to, what your voice
must have sounded like when you first started mastering the sounds, the grammar that legitimized you as such.
I always wondered whether it had something to do with that man under the Gürtel who heard us speak on the night
of my birthday, and all men like him.
It was so extraneous to me, the thought that someone might treat you differently for what would be less than a
millimeter on a map.
Back home it would have been ugly all the same, but it would not have been that millimeter to make a difference.
I guess there are at least as many shades of ignorance and bigotry as there are words for love in your language.
And why would it make a difference? A border flimsier than a signature on a paper.
A softer pronunciation of the same language.
But that’s not what they see, is it?
They see a stretch of kilometers that determines the nature of your journey and the status on your documents.
One night you asked me if I knew what qadr meant.
My cheeks burned but I did not blush.
I wonder if they would see it differently if when they heard you speak they knew that zu erröten(3) is closer to
ihmarra(4) than it is to blushing.
2 It is written – Fate – predetermination
3 To blush – German
4 To blush – Arabic
Send us your story of migration, it could be your own experience or of a family member or a friend, or even a conversation you’ve had with a stranger about their migration experience. We are looking for creative ways of expressing these stories, be it in the form of an essay, a poem, a video, a painting, illustration or whatever format sparks your creative flow. We are accepting submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org. To apply, please send us an email with the heading “E-MINDFUL Stories of Migration”