The doors of the U-8 slid open. Burak, busy playing Candy Crush on his mobile, bumped into an old German lady, as she alighted from the metro, holding a huge Aldi bag in her wrinkled hand.
“Entschuldigung!” he muttered softly. His sorry however fell on deaf ears, as she rolled her eyes, and mumbled something inaudible. Burak shrugged his shoulders, boarded the train, and leaned against the stanchion. The seat opposite him was empty, but that would have meant sitting next to the man who looked at him with utter disdain.
Let me think about Kamila. Burak broke into a shy smile at the thought of his girlfriend.
[Outside Zaher’s Lounge & Bar]
The clock from a nearby church chimed ten. Hand in hand, couples stumbled out of the bar, drunk, giggling, and groping each other. Kamila leaned against a lamppost, drawing Burak towards her.
“I am glad you controlled yourself,” she whispered to him, drawing a pattern over his face with her index finger.
“One of these days, I am going to lose it. This city is becoming racist day by day.”
“Oh, come on! Such idiots are all over the place. Don’t fret over it.”
Burak let out a sigh. “I feel there is a storm raging inside me. I try to supress it. But it overwhelms me. I am afraid that it might become a typhoon.”
“Oh, Burak!” Kamila cupped his face between her hands. “Just ignore it. Remember, there are good people too. “
“Now, show some love to me, baby,” she drawled.
*** A month later ***
A deathly silence swooped down upon the Olympiastadion. The penalty shootout between Germany and Turkey was in progress. All eyes were on Çetin Murad, as he braced himself to score a goal and level the score.
His fierce kick sent the ball flying, and the fans went into a tizzy. A second later, he sank to the ground, covering his face with his palms. The ball had missed the goalpost by a whisker.
The crowd booed Germany’s best footballer of the season, as chants of ‘Traitor! Go back to Turkey!’ reverberated across the stadium.
Burak made his way slowly out of Gate H. A group of German teenagers standing beside a swanky Audi leered at him. Burak cast his eyes down and continued to walk briskly.
“Hey! Kanak! Scared of us?”
“Why don’t you leave our beloved country, you bastard?”
Burak’s silence infuriated them, and they ran towards him. The girl with multiple piercings on her pale skin spat on the young Turk. As Burak stepped back, he could discern a tiny tattoo of the Hakenkreuz on her collarbone. He instantly realised that he was up against a dangerous bunch of what could be the Neo Nazis. He muttered a silent prayer.
“What are you mumbling, you vermin?” the girl hollered. Burak looked around. A few Germans had gathered around them, but their white faces remained impassive. A few young Turkish men, however, had heard the commotion, and they came rushing towards Burak.
The Germans took out bicycle chains from their pockets, and spat out the bubble gums. Refusing to be intimidated, the Turks beat their chests frantically, and shouted obscenities at their opponents.
Burak stood rooted to the spot. This was not what he wanted. His heartbeats quickened, as the chants of Kanaken! Kanaken! reached a crescendo. He closed his eyes.
The familiar wails of the siren from the Polizei in the vicinity diffused the tension, and the crowd dispersed.
Relieved, Burak dragged his feet to the metro station. The storm inside him refused to subside. It’s time I leave Berlin. A whimpering sound made him stop in his tracks, and he turned around. A white boy had fallen on the road, wincing in pain. It was then Burak saw the Audi hurtling down the road, and judging by the way the brat was driving, there was no way she would brake on time. That is, if she intended to do so. In a flash, Burak ran towards the boy and dragged him to safety, just as the car whizzed past them, without pausing.
“Max!” a woman came towards them, tears cascading down her cheeks.
No sooner had Burak opened the door than Kamila sprang on him, kissing him.
“I am so proud of you, love.”
Burak rubbed his eyes. “What happened?”
Kamila let out a whistle. “This boy is a genius. He has become a superstar, and he is unaware of it.”
“I hate jokes, Kamila.”
Grinning, she took out her mobile and showed him her Facebook page.
It was a post by Paula Scheider, in German, followed by her selfie with Burak.
“Friends! Good things need to be shared. I would have lost my son Max tonight, had it not been for the efforts of Burak Amir. Yes, he is Turkish. So what? That didn’t stop him from being human. I hang my head in shame. You know why? Because I was there as a passive spectator when a bunch of arrogant teenagers from my own allegedly superior Aryan race provoked him, calling him a Kanak. Oh, the irony! That very Kanak saved my son from their speeding car.
Burak. I am sorry. For being silent. But allow me to make amends for this transgression. I hope my post becomes viral. The world needs to see that this is the Germany we should be proud of, not the one envisioned by that madman.
Thank you once again, Burak. Berlin is proud of you.”
Burak ran a hand over his wavy hair. “She did request for a selfie, but I was a bit apprehensive initially.”
Kamila smiled. “I have always been telling you. Goodness will ultimately prevail. You always used to complain about the storms.” She paused, and put her slender arms around Burak, and pecked him. “Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.”
U-8 – One of the underground metro (U-Bahn) lines in Berlin
Aldi – A supermarket chain in Germany
Entschuldigung – Excuse me! I am sorry!
Olympiastadion – Olympic Stadium
Kanak – A pejorative term for people with Turkish origins
Hakenkreuz – The Nazi symbol which looks like an inverted Swastika