The Smell of Fear Cling to Their Clothes

October 30, 2021
By Amloud Alamir

The closet door in my apartment in Berlin won’t close unless I lean against it. That’s because I have the habit of saving the clothes that my children have grown out of.

I keep some of them, because I want to give them away, and others as mementos. In Syria I had a similar cupboard. I remember how I sometimes used to take out my children’s first items of clothing to breathe in the scent. Those clothes are gone forever.

But now I have a different bag of children’s clothes, and their scent triggers equally strong emotions in me. Among them are the T-shirts that my children wore when we first came to Germany in 2014. At the time my children were eight and ten years old. Our start here wasn’t easy, and the smell of fear still clings to that bag of clothes.

The fear has ebbed, but it has never disappeared completely. What will become of us? Will we make it? These questions plague me not only in private, but also in my work as a journalist. I’m an editor with Amal, Berlin! a local news platform for new arrivals. We report in Arabic and Persian about what is happening in Berlin and what people are concerned about.

“What kind of future awaits us and our children?”

A child rides a bike on the walkway.

At the moment many migrants are worried, and the Covid-19 crisis is increasing their worries. How is the economic crisis affecting us? What kind of future awaits us and our children, when those who are waiting for entry at the borders of Europe are viewed by some people as a threat? And yet it is pure coincidence, where and when each of us is born.

In my closet I discover a pair of shorts that my daughter wore when she was learning to ride a bike here in Berlin. She often fell off, but stood up again every time. I suppose she felt, that if she managed to ride a bike, she’d be able to master everything else. 

I hope she’s right.