Written and Illustrated by Kurda Yar
At last, it was around the end of June the revelation unexpectedly appeared. Suddenly, the daily waiting tantra was seized by realising that a letter from the Ministry of Immigration was waiting for me at the camp reception. The excitement ignited a battle between relief and worrying, racing to know which one is going to win, it was time to face it – the decision on my asylum claim.
Watercolour (2002), making gift tags
When collecting the letter, the nervousness inside me was colossal, but I managed to control it, put a lid on it and as usual, keep my mask intact. While calmly my feet walked me back to my room, my precious tree-shaped brain cells, which have been well-fed with Almond lien proteins as was recommended by D, had been alarmingly busy sending signals to all directions of my body map preparing themselves with full armour to how to deal with another probable yet to come embargo… loss…. wound…… exclusion and rejection.
Colouring pencils (2002), My Mums Dessert Plate
My hands closed the door, and I took a deep breath before my fingers started to open the letter. My mind was thinking of grief and how to react in case the answer was going to be negative. I was consolidating myself: After all, I had experienced the anguishes of loss and being on the edge of living and not-living many times; I had become an expert in how to master grief: a childhood lived during the Iran-Iraq war; seeing my mum’s illness and then death at the age of twelve; witnessing the Anfal Campaign 1987-1988 – the Genocide of the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan where more than five thousand villages were destroyed and more than a hundred and eighty thousand people massacred, buried alive and disappeared; teenage-years surviving the second gulf war when the International Aliens with the leadership of USA and other countries, including Denmark and the UK, declared war against Iraq, 1990, causing the Kurdish exodus in 1991, an adulthood witnessing the civil wars in northern Iraq and having to living under triple-fold embargoes 1992-1999, and…. the list continues……my flashbacks stopped when my eyes caught a sentence.
“Under article 51 of the Refugee Convention, you are granted humanitarian asylum in Denmark.”
Watercolour (2002), Forget Me Not
The uncertainty vanished and my face muscles started contracting …… smiling for a seemingly promised future – now I can plan. I grabbed my mobile phone calling my family announcing the good news that I was granted asylum and graduated from the asylum camps! Now, legally I have entered the society, I have rights and have gained some control over my life.
The transformation from a mindset of uncertainty to one of certainty conveyed me to the shores of vividity, lightness, and energy. It brought me back to live in the present time concentrating on “now”, unlike before, where I was surviving the present, living in the past, while focusing on the future. A mismatched mosaic of time sensations that no way could I put harmoniously next to each other in a frame… a portrait… an entity to balance out the many elements of one entity… the living creature inside… me.
Graphic Pencils (2002), Amager Beach by the Nordic Sea
I had a few weeks to get ready to move to my new home. A tiny one-bedroom flat at the very suburbs of Copenhagen near the airport. I started my routines, of going to the language school and volunteering in a welcoming centre for refugees and asylum seekers in Copenhagen. By now, I was pleased that I didn’t need to speak English anymore, as I could express myself in Danish when contacting a GP, banks or other public services. I also started at a very high class-level called Trin (step) 3 Level 2, meaning I had already finished two years of language school and only needed another one and half years to finish Danish language course and pass the Academic language test to start higher education. So, my increasing dopamine strategy (see episode 4) had really paid off.
All these were positive things happening in my new life and my new home. I felt I was on the right track and driving ahead. And then, after a couple of weeks living in my new home, I found a letter on the floor behind my front door. Inside the letter there was a small rectangle piece of paper. Two sentences where typed in English:
“This is not your country.”
“Go back to your country. Go home.”
I felt very intimidated. I went immediately to the window, trying to catch a glimpse of anyone walking around. The street was, as usual, very empty, clean and quiet.
Watercolour (2002), Postparken, the view of the street I was living in from my living room
I was very frightened. I thought of psychopaths, hard-core racists and violent people who already knew where I lived. How could they know I moved here recently, if they hadn’t seen me moved in? The letter was most probably from someone who knows the area very well or perhaps lives nearby. What if it is from a neighbour? But which neighbour? I started observing people passing by from my window; looking for strange behaviours, body language or any other ‘you are not welcomed signals’. I very quickly realised that, in fact, my neighbours were not communicating at all. It isn’t quite normal to say hello to your neighbours in Denmark. Even among the Danes themselves. The norm is that everyone minds their own business. You are just a two feet-ed creature like them passing by.
Colouring pencils (2002), Lovebird
Gradually my optimistic vim didn’t last long. I very soon realised that the transformation of my mindset was not a shift in certitude from a “negation” to an “affirmation”, but rather a shift in encountering another societal phenomenon which is doomed to be a problematic one in today’s host societies, called – integration.
Moving from the status of “waiting for asylum” to be expectedly an “integrated refugee” it didn’t stop, by any means, the phenomenon of the waiting tantra. In contrary, the waiting tantra apparently carried on as a surviving mechanism for overliving the integration policies of the new host country that now to be considered to be a new “home”.