The Tea Glasses

I met Jamal at the biggest refugee camp
of Europe, where I volunteered
They had put up tents
in the middle of the forest in Holland
to host 3000 refugees

After a horrible journey
Jamal had just escaped from the war in Syria
He was a middle-aged man
who had lost everything:
his home, his wife, his children
and his family

I invited him to have dinner at my place
He came together with another refugee and his child
They hardly spoke any English
We ate in silence

They all were very traumatized
The small child couldn’t play no more
And even the candy and the toy car
I had bought for him
Didn’t give him reason to smile

I gave Jamal my phone number
and told him that he could call me
whenever he needed help

A week later on a Friday night,
the phone rang
It was Jamal and he was completely panicked
I first needed to calm him down
And it took a while
before I could understand
what was going on
In his panic he had lost
all his English words

It turned out he had taken a bus
as he wanted to go to the city centre
but he had taken the wrong one
And now, he was in the middle of nowhere
He didn’t know where he was
And how he could come back
to the refugee camp

It took a while before I had figured out
where Jamal was
But then I immediately jumped in my car
to pick him up
He was beyond grateful

And then a few days later
the phone rang again:
‘Marieke, sorry, please, you come?’
I jumped in my car
to drive to the camp
as I thought there was another problem
that needed to be solved

But when I arrived Jamal smiled
he handed me a present
With his last money
he had bought four tea glasses
to thank me

The tea I drink from those glasses
somehow tastes different
As it fills me with deep gratitude
And then I realize what is truly important
And how we humans
are all connected

©RoseGirl2019