I had passed my A-levels. Of course a D in maths. And the exams in psychology were designed rather unfortunate: There was a case study concerning Tom. The whole case study went about Tom. But the questions referred to Tom’s friend Dick. A third of all Bavarian graduates got that wrong. I was among them. From an A grade I slid down to a C. I took it on the chin.
Then came the holidays and I still didn’t know what to go about. Primarily I had wanted to go to Cologne for studying translations at the advanced technical college. But I didn’t want to leave town, that shortly after my father’s death. Because of my little brother. I didn’t want to let him down.
My German teacher recommended to enroll in the local College for Language Studies. I did so. From my student loan I further on payed school fees and my rent. I was lucky to find a part-time job where I had to sell costume jewelry.
The Language College, that was some sort of society. I scraped at breadline and a classmate complained about her father: “He’s such a mizer. For my 18th birthday he only gave me a Ford Fiesta!”
Equitation was also popular among that crowd. Another fellow student drove to school every morning in her father’s Benz.
I didn’t have to take much efforts regarding my education. Languages – that came just flying to me. Thus, I occasionally sat in the pedestrian precinct and observed people. One fine afternoon in May I sat on a bench when an elderly gentlemen approached me. He wore green trousers, a white dress shirt and a black waistcoat. He had a barett on his head and a white beard.
“Can I sit down?”, he asked.
Little enthusiastic I replied: “For all I care”.
„You caught my attention, you know“, the old crook tried to get a conversation started.
„Well you have a very pleasant face. An intelligent face”.
“Aha”, I was a little vain.
„Do you know the saying: ‚Dust remains dust even when it rises to the skies. A diamond remains a diamond even when it falls to the dust’?”
I didn’t answer and the man continued: “This is Sufi wisdom. I am a Sufi. My name is Harun-al-Rashid. You don’t believe? Here I show you!“
I examined the personal document he showed me and really, there was standing: Harun-al-Rashid.
“How come?” I asked, getting curious.
„This is my Muslim name“, the mysterious figure explained. Harun-al-Rashid began talking about Sufism. He went on and on and recommended to me – when I wanted really to get going – the book “The Sufis” by Idris Shah. When I finally went I had a murderous sunburn in my face.
I bought the book and I liked it. I was almost enthusiastic. I liked the stories and analogies and wanted to meet the guy again. I wanted to become a Sufi. But I didn’t find him anymore. Every afternoon I went to town to sit in the pedestrians’ precinct or in the park. Harun-al-Rashid remained disappeared. Some time I forgot all about it. One night I had some sort of vision and knew that I had to put this vision to paper. I dug out an old watercolour box and started painting. I was content with my picture and went into town to get some black cardboard to fix the picture on.
I moved towards the stationary shop and there he was standing. On a café’s table. The caliph, the Sufi. I forgot about my errand and approached him. He didn’t recognize me. Only when I reportet about Idris Shah recognition was in his eyes. Spontanously he invited me to the Kolping Haus where coffee was inexpensive. He told me fairytales from Arabian Nights.
We exchanged mobile phone numbers and regularly met at the Kolping Haus. I learned that he wore green trousers because green was the colour of the prophet. I learned that he was an educated painter and he wanted to give me drawing lessons. I learned that he had served a stretch for rape innocently and that they had put wires under his foreskin there to torture him with power. I learned that he was living on social benefits but regularly received money from a mosque. I learned that he was a primary numbers scientist and was calculating magic squares.
All this was terribly fascinating. Soon I went to his home, to an untidy dusty one-room apartment that was stuffed with books from top to bottom. He gave me drawing lessons. I bought carbon and red chalk and just started. I calculated magical squares from six times six to 99 times 99. The 99 square I wrote on a number of cardboards and had it laminated in the copy shop. I had drawn the primary numbers in blue ink and tried to find a pattern.
The Sufi desperately wanted a Texas Instruments calculator so I bought him one. He was so happy.
A little later the flat above him became vacant and he convinced me to leave my northern flat behind and move to his house. Moving flats was done within one day. At the flea market we found a mobile intercom which we installed in his and my flat. Sometimes a friend visited. Then I heard a click in the line. He was eavesdropping on us. I pulled the plug.
He laid a green carpet on my floor and built a bed from wood from the hardware store, with a step in front of it that was supposed to serve as a bench. He would need a column drill, he said, I had to buy one. I asked an acquaintance who was a carpenter and he said this was nonsense. Any drilling machine would do. I refused to spend a lot of money on a column drill. He nevertheless managed to build that bed.
I painted a lot and calculated and read the Qur’an. I spent ever more time at the old man’s flat. I used to sit in a rocking chair and he was in front of me. He explained: “Women are the evil of mankind. Despots like Hitler or Stalin wouldn’t have existed if it were not for their evil mothers.”
I contradicted but he just cut me short: “Everything bad comes from bad mothers!”
Encouraged by the old man the local Mili Görus mosque gave me a hadith for a present. I didn’t like what I read there. But the Sufi insisted: The root of anything evil was in the women!
Eventually he started bad-mouthing on the Jews. Zionism was threatening society. The Jews had wanted Auschwitz. Everything inside me was revolting. I had enjoyed a different education. But already the Sufi was dominating me. He just schooled me and said: „You are a woman. Therefore you don’t understand a thing“.
One fine autumn afternoon he called me during school saying it was urgent. I left the classroom and returned the call.
“I have met someone“, he excitedly cried into the telephone, „you’ve to meet him. Come to Hofgarten after school”.
I said okay and after school I went there.
In the Hofgarten I found him with two Arab young men. He introduced me to one of him: “He can give you Arabic lessons.”
The young man was an Iraqi refugee who only spoke broken German. But nevermind. I had always wanted to learn a language from outside Europe.
I met once or twice with him, in the Hofgarten, we were learning vocabulary. He indicated on a car and said ‘siara’ or on a tree and said ‘shadshara’. It was a bit enervating, these meetings in the Hofgarten, so I invited him to my flat. He was very happy. He came. Into my flat. Undressed and raped me. Had it to be that way? I didn’t know. When doing the dishes I dropped a plate. I was shaking. I had said ‚no‘ several times. „La“, in Arabic, that had not kept him from it. I told the Sufi about it. He just said: “It’s your fault. You shouldn’t have let him into your flat.“
Now the Iraqi came every day. He brought bags of food and cooked. We picnicked on the floor. Then he mounted me. He became angry and bet me when I asked: „From behind me, please“, while I was studying the newspaper.
In College I fortunately had two friends who knew that I was not doing too well. When I finally told what went wrong they encouraged me to go to the police. I went to the police. I was led upstairs to a superintendent. He looked at me and asked: “You didn’t make this up, did you?”
„Very well, then I leave again“ I said resignedly and stood up.
“Now, now”, the superintendent said, “I believe you. But we can’t do anything about it. This is a matter of domestic violence. The only thing you can do is go to the county court and apply for an interim injunction so that this guy is not allowed to come near you anymore. Good Luck!”
I visited the County Court and enforced the restraining order. However, the Iraqi whom I wouldn’t let into my flat anymore, followed me. He intruded into my classroom to embarrass me. One day he followed me the whole way from school to my home and wouldn’t even let go at the doorstep. I pulled out a capsicum spray which a friend had given me and sprayed it into his face. Baloney! He just took the can out of my hand and started spraying on me. Then he went. I went upstairs to my flat. 20 minutes later the telephone rang. It was the police. I had been reported of grievous bodily harm and should come to the police headquarters.
I sorted out the affair and the Iraqi received another fine for infringing the restraining order. I always had to report such things to the County Court and when I arrived there this time the judicial officer snarled at me: “There was such a nice elder gentlemen visiting. He explained everything. Aren’t you ashamed? Drop the charges!“
I still was a nervous wreck and ostentatively ignored the Sufi when I met him on the elevator. There was some peace then. I was recovering. One day I was riding my scooter up a street. On the boardwalk the Iraqi and a friend were walking. He saw me and did obscene gestures.
Home again the telephone rang. The police. I had been reported of dangerous disruption of traffic and should come to the police’s headquarters.
So I went – again – to the police. There they explained to me that I had run over the Iraqi on my scooter, then had cried ‘asshole, asshole’, then I had run over a red light.
College came to its end. In July there was the last lesson. Only in September we had our final exams. I smoked a lot of weed during summer holidays, I had no perspective anyway. I had written about felt like 1000 applications and was always refused. So what?
Student loan was payed out until December when oral exams were to take place. Afterwards I lived on saved up money. I went to the social services office but they said to me: “If you want to receive benefits you have to work, say, as a kitchen aid in an old peoples’ home”.
Then I rather wrote applications to the retirement homes of the town. Eventually, I was successful in March the following year. I became an auxiliary nurse just like my mother.