Bought in Berlin–Honorable Mention
Large blocks of rubble, awake, shifting, tinkling around me and the pram. Too hard. So, I sit on a cloud, legs dangling, seeing it all from up there. Safe. Watching my parents pack and move and pack and move and leave behind door keys, photographs, and libraries; but not friends. We’ve never left friends behind even though I stopped counting the houses and countries. I stopped memorizing the roads that change. I stopped wondering how many generations wide and back children weren’t born in the same place as their parents. Parents don’t die where their children have hoped and hopped to.
It’s a burgundy pram, a Victorian model that my father bought me from a work trip to Berlin. I don’t recall which side of the Wall he bought it from, just that the Wall was still up back then, and that artificial dividers never mattered in my home. My polar bear loved sitting in that pram. The washed and wrapped creamy-white bear now sits in a moth-protected case, in a storage unit two continents and an ocean away from where he was first bought. Which is yet another four hours’ flight from where I live now. He was larger than me the first time we met. My mother packed him into my suitcase one summer trip, knowing that they would soon – finally be coming back to the place they left over 30 years prior, to where she first met my father. The anxiety of knowing you can be an untethered helium balloon. A woman’s freedom to no longer weigh her self everyday.
A flower fell between my feet today. I cried, waiting for a narrative.
Then I got up and picked the flower, and some of its friends, to place them in a teacup of water with thyme crackers and coffee on the side, for a skype work meeting between middle east and north west. So that we can knit a quilt of how to teach different forms of caring practices after a war.
My polar bear sat on the nursing chair in my babies’ room for two years. Leaned up against an ABC pillow that my mother had cross-stitched. The pillow is also in the storage unit. The chair that held my friend up to feed her two boys before she moved down-under was passed onto another friend with the same hope of use. To be all curled up with blankets on snowy days. One day, to cradle a light.
Today, to fan and spark flames in others.
The pram didn’t come along in the last move. It was given to my dreams, along with the intentionally gathered libraries. It’s a burgundy pram. I push it ahead of me, the wheels spin the next chapter.
Hiba Zafran is a therapist and an academic who is grateful for the people, values, and peripheries that she calls her home.