“Families don’t have to match. You don’t have to look like someone else to love them – Leigh Anne Tuohy”
I have always been close to this one particular person since my arrival in this country. And she has not only been a guide at each step in this journey but such a special friend and part of my life here, that I cannot express my gratitude enough. One particular incident occupied my mind today and bring the biggest smile on my face in weeks…
My friend and I were driving to her home for Easter. It was a very spontaneous plan while she was visiting me in Stuttgart and before I knew it, I was invited to spend Easter with her and her family.
Now even though I had many German friends up to now, I was not really acquainted with any of their families or even met one. I had no idea how a German household even looked like or what’s the system here. To add-on to my anxiousness, I had to talk in German (naturally). But my German was all good in terms of theory. I had never passed the threshold of talking or having a real conversation at that time.
On the way, preparing what I theoretically knew and learned in my German classes, I gathered my thoughts together (or rather tried to) and asked all kinds of questions to my friends regarding what should I be prepared for and if there is anything I need to know with respect to my conduct there. She, as calm as ever, made me feel confident about just being normal and being myself. All was gonna be fine, was her assurance. Little did I know what was in store for me.
We reached as per the plan and I entered the home. Everyone was already seated on the dining table and we took our seats. All I managed in first one hour was hello along with okay and thank you and I’m fine. I will be honest, I was wondering if I even fit in the atmosphere and my confidence was as low as the lowest floor of that building. Generally, I am not this socially anxious person but that day was different…
After the delicious meal, we sat around in living room and that’s when they started asking things about me. Simple questions and I started replying. I told them that my German is really poor and never before have I had a conversation in German. Her father simply told, “Don’t worry Charu. If you say something wrong, I will correct you. Just don’t be afraid. Simply talk.” These words were not just encouraging but so magical that I started forming sentences (simple ones) and explained everything I wanted (slowly) in German. What surprised me even more, was more questions and replies to my answers, because they were understanding me!
To anyone who is out there, trying to learn German, did you feel the same when you spoke for first time with someone native? I am sure you can relate when I say that I was absolutely elated at the time!
Following that evening, we went to a cocktail bar. And everyone took their seats. I was sitting opposite to her parents. She and her sister were beside me on either side. Her mother and I ordered the same drinks and even before the drinks touched our table, they simply told, “You are our daughter now. We adopt you. Welcome to your German family.” I saw the unspoken happiness in her parents eyes and I felt myself being hugged from either side, as their new Indian sister.
The rest of the evening, I only remember laughing and having one of the best evenings I had since my parents had returned to India. Next day, I was taken for shooting with my Deutsche papa and my sister. It was the first time I had held a real gun. But with amazing explanation and training by papa, I was shooting in an hour and for the first time, everyone was pretty impressed because apart from some really far shots, I got some good ones too. Again, they welcomed me to their family because everyone does that since years. And it’s a family thing.
I thought I couldn’t be happier but weekend wasn’t over yet but one of the best things was still remaining. I was taken to meet my friends (now sister) grandma. She is a wonderful, wise and such a lovely lady. My friend was telling her that she was going to turn a year older soon and she is grown up now. Grandma simply looked at her and replied: “You are so young. I am 87 (or something she told, I can’t really recall) and you have so many years to live and do what you want to do. You are just starting your life now” followed with such a meaningful smile.
That particular line has found a permanent spot in me, and each time I feel low because of anything, it reminds me that this is just the beginning and I still have my life to live. Simple lines sometimes have the greatest impacts in life. This is surely made its impact forever in my life for sure.
My friend’s sister (my sister) is a professional photographer and she took me to countryside nearby for a photo shoot. Apart from the amazing photos that she made that day, we bonded. And ever since, there is this unspoken bond and I feel absolutely delightful each time I spend time with her!
The weekend flew by and it was 2 and half days of talking only in German. My friend was not just surprised but so proud of my skills. To get this from a native speaker, meant the world for me. It gave me the confidence I never had before. And my threshold and barrier that stopped me from talking, making mistakes, but yet talking, was broken. Forever.
It’s gonna be a year soon since this happened, but ever since then, there was no looking back.
I introduced my Deutsche family to my Indian family and both were present when my friend and I graduated. One of the most memorable days of my life would be that day.
It humbles me each time I receive a post card or candy from papa or any thing that symbolizes that I am not alone here. I have a family here too.
I spent last Christmas with them. My best Christmas yet! And the bond is just like I have with my parents back at home. They are equally concerned for me and I am for them.
I can finally say this with ease and no doubt, that Germany is no longer a foreign country for me. It’s my second home. And I love and respect it as much as I love my home country.
All thanks to that one person, that started it all – Latoya. I love her as a friend, as my sister and as an individual who has changed me life in ways she doesn’t even know. Thank you Latoya. I love you.
To some of you this might be strange and you may wonder why would someone even do that? And wasn’t I taken aback? Yes, I was. But you never know what life has in store for you. And this was one such blessing I had no idea about. And will remain ever obliged…
Keep smiling and stay strong!
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