Books in German language

Rafiq Shami from Damascus



Change in life

Rafiq Shami is one of the few German writing authors whose books I have read. I like to read books in the original language and most books I read are in english. However it happened in October 2015 that I stumbled on the book “Sofia” from Rafiq Sharma. The night before I celebrated the famous German Oktoberfest with my colleagues in Trier. It was an amazing event with famous singers and the corporate we worked for had booked tickets for us in the VIP area. It was the first time for me on an Octoberfest and we had so much fun, partying all night. I had booked a hotel very close to the venue in order to not having to worry about how to arrive home at night after the party.

The next morning, I had breakfast at the hotel and asked at the reception for the direction of the next bus stop. From there I took the bus to the Trier train station. At that time I was living in Luxembourg and I had some time until the next train arrived so I looked around at the shops and as usual ended up in a bookstore. Luckily, very recently I saw on german TV a program which presented some new german books to read. I remembered a few of them while walking through the bookstore. The first book that was recommended on the show I found very quickly and opened the book on a random page and started to read, however it was not what had expected to find the scene which was being described on the page was relating to war times …raping a women by several men in a forest …. it also described how one of the men while raping her was thinking she must be enjoying it at least a little bit as well .. why would she moan otherwise … and her hand touching his back made him feel even more excited… That was enough for me, I am sure the book was a good one but there are certain types of topics I just cant handle to read. So I searched further and found the book “Sofia” by Rafiq Shami. It plays in Damascus …. it’s a love story and a spionage thriller and about running away…. I bought the book, sat on the train and drove back home.

At home, I enjoyed staying in all day, eating food that I bought from the train and reading Sophia. I still remember this day as one of the perfects day…. After a long day and night partying just staying in bed the next day with good food and a good book. It’s weird but I still remember what I was wearing and that I was feeling perfectly comfortable with me and myself. Everything was just perfect that day.

Nevertheless, the year 2015 was a very difficult for me and I associate it with big changes. The first big change happened when one of my good friends from Luxembourg moved away in Summer 2015 to Paris. It was very difficult since I had spent a lot of my free time with her, many weekends, dinner or theatheres after work etc. It was a hard goodbye. A few months later, in November I resigned to my first real job I ever had after university where I had spend 6 years…. and decided to move away from Luxembourg to London to take a new job in February 2016. All those changes and expected changes filled me with anxiety. Especially Winter Sunday evenings were very hard for me.

Luckily, I had tennis lessons every Sunday evening. It required me a 15 min train ride. I would take the book Sophia with me and read on the train drive. It was magical, I felt as I was part of the book… even though I have never been to Damascus I felt in love with the city… the way he described the city the people their way of living and enjoying simple life with simple but good and real food. Reading the book helped me feel less uncertain about my own life it gave me some hope and relaxed my anxiety. Nevertheless, winter sunday evenings were dark and cold but my the book and my tennis lessons helped me overcome this difficult time.

Later around december my good friend came back to Luxembourg for a visit and we went to the christmas market together. I still remember, me walking to the market with my gym bag and tennis racket and of course my book. My friend had to catch a train later that evening and I had planned to go with her to the train station towards my tennis class. We were enjoying the food and drinks at the christmas market and I did not wanted to end it hoping she could stay and did not have to face the whole dark winter evening on my own. But that was not as it was she had to go and I went with her to the train station. There we stayed and talked and I noted that was going to miss my train which did not bother me since I wanted to stay in company even if it was for a few minute more.

My friend left to Paris, I had missed my train so went outside to catch my bus home …. It was a cold and dark night.

In the bus I felt lonely and sad and and as the anxiety was just to come I remembered that I had the book with me so I opened “Sophia” started to read and immediately felt much better.

Sophia is one of the few books I still have with me e.g. not given away. Since it brings a certain feeling and memory back… even though at that time the feeling was not a good one, the memory of it has something about it that I do not want to give away.

I just saw very recently december 2019 that a new book from Rafiq Shami is available “DIE GEHEIME MISSION DES KARDINALS”. That’s the next book I plan to read from him.

Which books do trigger memories for you? Do you still have the books with you? What are those memories?

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