Gazmend Freitag, Lisa Grüner/Artist and Author, Vienna/
They find themselves on a railway siding, sitting there with no idea where to go. It really doesn’t matter as there’s no destination in front of them. For two weeks now they’ve been wearing the clothes they had on the day they fled; there was no time left to change or even to pack anything. They wear designer clothing and normal shoes. From the outside they don’t look a bit like anyone who had to hurry away from their home, leaving everything behind. There just wasn’t a lot of time to think about what to put on when they were suddenly told to get out now.
They had left everything behind, everything they had ever created in their lives. It wasn’t very much, but for them it was valuable. An entire life, lots of personal belongings, witnesses to special moments, gifts, heirlooms, all their works, drawings and paintings. Everything, everything was left behind to face an uncertain fate.
Now sitting in the dark, there is nothing for them except the moment. A couple, alone by themselves. Tired, empty and with a dull feeling in their stomachs. They might be hungry, although it could just as well be a deep sadness slowly emerging. It’s something better to ignore. They don’t wish to let it reach the surface. After all, they still have each other. An artist couple that at one time were radiant, who drew magnificent pictures, organized awesome exhibitions and were invited to all important receptions; who laughed and cried together and in their pictures held onto important moments.
What had become of their pictures? Where are they now? Had they fallen into the hands of someone who just turned around and destroyed them, without ever realizing how much time had been spent, how much feeling he was holding in his hands? Had the pictures been found by another person who would carefully turn them over on their sides to protect them from whomever would simply seek to blast them to dust? What had happened to grandmother’s jewelry, the photographs of the children and all the other memories they had been keeping?
Now in their loneliest hour the memories rush back, wafts of mist drifting past them like flashes of light.
They recall the good old days before once again finding themselves in the here and now. In a land whose language they don’t understand, whose food they can barely tolerate, where no one pays attention to them. Only a few weeks ago they had status, an identity. Now they are nothing more than names and a nationality. Everything about them remains the same, and yet it seems so far away as if it were coming out of a previous life. Anyway they still have each other.
She leans her head on his shoulder and softly cries to herself. He tries as hard as possible to radiate confidence. At least they’re still alive. At one time they had started from zero. Why not again. She’d fallen asleep. He slept, too. And eventually the whole city would be sleeping. Because the peace was spreading. Because it had come at the moment when nothing else could ever be taken from them. Now they had themselves, their history and their talents.
So they clung to each other and to the assurance that everything could only get better. Someday. As a sudden downpour soaked them to the skin.
© Lisa Grüner, Artist and Author, Vienna
Mag. Lisa Grüner: Our artistic contribution to the refugee crisis