“You are going for asylum next week,” Solomon said while we ate that night.
He said he would teach me what to say when I got there.
I didn’t know much about asylum but from what he said already, it was extremely important that I went for it. He said everyone I saw at the Frank store took asylum already.
“That is the only way you can be able to move around without fear. Germany is a close guarded and monitored country, the cops are likely going to control you before one week,” he had said.
I wasn’t happy that I was going to be separated from him; I had thought that we were going to live together forever. But the truth was that he was right. I needed to be registered in the system. I needed to be free from fear of being controlled. I would miss him of course but like he said, it would be over before one or two months, then I would be with him again.
The following day, it was time to study the asylum procedures and stories. I had just finished making tea for us when he shouted from the bathroom, “Get ready, we are going to study about asylum now.”
I was excited about it. It was time to know who I was going to be in Germany.
Back in Portugal, he had given me hints about the names he would want me to bear. I recalled he said I was going to become Jennifer Ebot. He said Ebot was his surname in Germany and that I was going to claim his missing sister whom he had somehow included in his own story back in 2002 when he took asylum in Eisenhutenstadt Germany.
“Where am I going for the asylum?” I asked; he had just walked out of the bathroom.
“Here in Berlin, but I believe they will send you to another place outside Berlin. That’s how it works most of the time.”
“But can I return to Berlin even if they post me to another place?” I asked.
He nodded as he sipped his tea. “Like I told you back in Portugal, your name here in Germany is Jennifer Ebot. You will retain Jennifer so that you won’t have to struggle to maintain or remember too many lies. Your real day and month of birth will also remain the same; you will only change your year of birth to 1991. I want you to use 15 years as your age. That way, the authorities would have no option but to handle you as a juvenile. They will take care of you more and send you to school after camping. If you tell them you are above 15, you may have to be abandoned like they did many people”
I paid maximum attention as he gave details of every likely question I would face at the interview in asylum camp. By the time he was done, I became very familiar with the asylum system and story in Germany. I was very optimistic about my chances to succeed. Everything has been comprehensively narrated to me and I could replay them in my head as I gathered the tea cups and returned to wash them in the kitchen.
As I prepared to go to asylum camp, I began to see strange behaviours around the house. Solomon would answer a call and immediately tell me he was going out. I would ask where he was going in which I never really got satisfactory answers. On his way back, he would buy one gift or the other for me. I felt that something was going on. I didn’t know what he did back in Berlin before he came to Portugal but whatever it was, I was sure it was illegal.
The night before I left for asylum, he received a call from a man with Middle Eastern accent. We were on bed and since he had no excuse to take the call outside the bedroom, he picked the call right there beside me.
After the call, he said the name of the caller was Fadi and that he was from Beirut, wherever that was.
“What are you doing with the Arabs?” I had managed to ask.
I knew a few things about the Arabs, I have never had a friend from them but I heard many nasty things people said they did. I have heard rumours about how they bombed one place or the other and how they killed people here and there. I was shocked to realize that my boyfriend knew an Arabic man.
“He is a friend of mine. We used to live in the same place when I was new in Germany. He heard I was back in German and called to greet me,” Solomon said.
“But I heard they are dangerous.”
He rolled over and turned to me. “Everyone is dangerous in one way or another; even the tiger will never attack you if he knows you are a friend and not an enemy.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You should be more concerned about your asylum stories for now.”
Solomon went on to tell me how things worked in asylum camp.
“You are most likely going to meet people from different parts of the world when you get to the asylum camp. There will be people from Arabic nations, Russians and Chinese. There will be people from all over black Africa as well. You can make friends with whomever you want, that’s how I became friends with Fadi.”
His explanation was good and there were no further questions. I needed to sleep on time because he said I would leave the apartment early the next morning.
According to our plan, I was to approach a nearby police station and declare that I want asylum. They will ask for my name and where I came from. Things would take care of itself from there. It seemed quite easy but I knew that things could also get out of hand quickly and the next thing would be to end up at the deportation camp instead of the asylum camp. I have heard that both facilities were usually close to each other.
I had a strange dream that night as I attempted to remember everything I was told to say to the police the next morning. I didn’t even know when sleep captured me. The next thing I remembered was to grab my phone and check the time. It was 5:10am; it was time to face the reality of life in Germany. The only consolation was that if I were to survive for long in Germany, the asylum was inevitable.
I got up from bed, brushed my teeth, washed my face and crawled into the one cloth I believed would last longer than others if I didn’t have the means to buy another one.
“Jenny, here is tea and bread,” Solomon said as he made his way from the kitchen.
It was the first time he was making any food for me or even for himself since we moved to the new apartment. I could see he was concerned I was leaving for camp but like he said in the past, if I had to live freely in Germany, I must go to the camp and have my fingerprints taken and stored in the Database of immigrants in the country, there was no way around it.