Finally Asif had arrived. He had 50,00€ left and invested them into a txi ride to Munich and a phone call to his mother. His uncle was going to pick him up in Munich and bring him home to his family, whom he had not seen in years. „Munich is a beautiful city,“ he tells me and smiles. There weren’t a lot of smiles while he was telling his story, so this smile stands out. He especially loved the BMW building and the English Garden. „I walked around a long time,“ says Asif. Finally his uncle finds him and they leave for Cologne, 600km to the Northwest.
When he arrives at the flat his mother is renting, she falls around his neck. THe first thing he does is eat a home-cooked meal, then shower, then sleep. „I threw out all his clothes,“ says his mother. He had not changed them in a month. „I felt sad about the shoes,“ says Asif. „I had worn them so long, they had become my friends.“ I swallow and ask him, if his feet were okay. Of course, they were not. „He take off his shoes, and the feet are red and white and in one day they swell to this!“ says the mother. She indicates a size of feet that look more like an American football.
Asif slept for three days, then they go to a lawyer to get him refugee status. It’s not as easy as they thought. Asif has to go to Dortmund, a city 100km North of Cologne, and get registered at the provincial registry for refugees (Germany is divide into 16 provinces or states). He spends 2 weeks in Dortmund, is sent to Unna (50km East of Dortmund) then to Essen, 80km North of Cologne, before he can return to his family. At this point I am just grateful he was even allowed to return!
He is now learning German with a vengeance and thinking about moving somewhere nicer. His mother interrupts my question, where he’d like to go. „No!“ she says decisively. „We stay here. I love it here, I love this city!“ I can understand that she wants some permanence in her life again.