The dark corner

By Clara Deifel, October 2016

I know they haven’t done me any harm. I know it’s not their fault. I know they’re not any different to us. I know that people who think like that are racists. And yet my heart always beats a little bit faster as I hurry past giving the “dark corner” a wide berth.

Photo: © suze/photocase.de

The “dark corner” is a group of eight young men. They sit there almost daily on the gravel in front of the refugee accommodation, their faces expressionless. They sit there when the sun shines. They sit there when it rains. Time passes and they sit there. Time passes and most people walk on past. Sometimes I think that here life, colour, time have gone astray.

At best, people cast a covert glance at them from the other side of the road, hoping that no one notices, and walk on – looking straight ahead. “I don’t know them, I don’t want to know them. They are nothing to do with me.” No one has prohibited me from going over to them, at least not in so many words. It’s just that no one talks about them, ever. That also wasn’t agreed, at least not in so many words. Should I go over? But a prohibition not framed in words is also a prohibition. An agreement not framed in words is also an agreement. “Why me? What can I do? I don’t have any time.” There is something scary about them.

Perhaps it is the grey, loveless container in which they live. “Itisdarkandbleak”. Perhaps their skin, dark like bittersweet chocolate. “Everythingisdarkand bleak”. Perhaps it is their clothes, which don’t bring any life to that corner either. “Itisdarkandbleak”. Perhaps the foreign language in which they sometimes exchange a few words. A dark, confusing language. “Itisdarkandbleak”. Perhaps also the fact that most of the time they are silent and look at the sky. “Itisdarkandbleak”. “Itisdarkandble”. “Itisdarkand”. “Itiswdar”. “Itisd”. “Iti”. “It”.

Once again I hurry past, giving the “dark corner” a wide berth. PINK! Out of the corner of my eye I see – pink. What is there that is pink in the dark corner? I turn round and notice a little girl, perhaps six years old, walking straight towards the men. She is wearing a bright pink jacket and her dark curly hair falls down over her shoulders. Although a hair grip does its best to keep it under control, a strand of hair keeps falling down into her face.

But what I notice immediately are her eyes: they, dark like bittersweet chocolate, sparkle with joy. “Ev”. Her mother, who is holding the little girl by the hand, tries to pull her onwards. But the girl waits. She pulls faces to try and get the men to laugh. She jumps up and down to try and reach the cap on one of the men’s heads. “Everywhe”.

The men laugh. Some of them also start to pull faces. The man with the cap places the much too big cap on the head of the girl. Passersby cannot believe their eyes until one or two of them begin not to leave such a wide berth. Some people stay and join in the fun. Other people, walking past, cannot suppress a grin. “Everywherepi”.

Suddenly the corner is no longer dark. It is colourful, full of life and cheerful. Light skin flashes between dark skin, brown eyes between blue eyes, German between English and between other foreign languages. The container isn’t grey anymore either. I walk towards the refugee accommodation. All this just because of her. She did it. And she is a child. “Everywherepink”.

About the author: This story was written by Clara Deifel who currently attends class 10 of the Otto Hahn Gymnasium in Ostfildern.

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