The desert is calling. In fact, it’s calling me since many years, since in childhood days I heard some tales of my great-grandmother, that strong and secretive woman who refused to unveil her past. I remember one day seeing a picture of her and thinking, with a sharp intake of breath, “this is how I will look like as an old woman”.
Ida, and we don’t even know if this was her real name, was a maid in the south of France but not French, got pregnant by her boss or his son, threw away her papers, took on a false name and a new identity, came to Berlin, gave birth to my granny, raised her all alone, even managed to save up until she could buy a piece of land and built a two room house and a shed on it all by her own.
She died long before I was born. But I know my father loved her deeply. She never spoke much. From her looks I’d say she was a kind, gentle and warm-hearted woman. From the tales I know she was tough and no one wanted her as an enemy.
My father’s father was a sort of orphan. As a newborn he was put in a basket and left in front of a home for orphaned children. No one even knew his name, so he was given one by chance. When my granny fell in love with him and they married, it was her luck. He looked very German with blond hair and blue eyes and the build of a strong Prussian guy whereas my granny had no way of prooving she was Aryan plus black hair, dark eyes, harsh features, even a long nose and so the worst cards in Hitler’s Germany.
Since I first saw this picture of Ida, I feel strangely attached to this woman I never knew. Maybe it’s just because I look so much alike, maybe it’s the blood we share.
It’s Beduine’s blood. And now it’s answering the call of the desert I hear since so many years. I don’t know what I’m really looking for. I know even less what I will find. Pieces of me maybe, pieces I’m missing. So far I only know this much: I have to go. I have to go into the desert, meet Beduines, smell, taste and feel the sun, the sand, the heat and the solitude. I have to go into the desert to come back to me.
So, I’ll follow the call. I’ll fly to Egypt with an open heart and the hope that the desert will embrace me.