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I have another grandmother. She is Mama’s mother, and lives in the town where I was born, north of East Berlin. It’s very far away from where we live now, but we go to see her as often as we can. Sometimes we all go together in our Trabant or Papa takes Mama and me to the station and we catch a train that travels through the whole country. It takes absolute ages to get there. Whenever we go by car, we usually get up in the middle of the night, when all is quiet outside and the street lamps have already been switched off. Mama sets me up in the backseat of the car, with pillows and a duvet. She tucks me in so tightly that I can barely move and tells me to go back to sleep, which is of course impossible because I am too excited. We drive along the lonely country roads, connecting the scattered villages. I lie on the backseat and look at the starry sky through the window and wonder about the moon’s scarred face. Mama and Papa talk in hushed voices, and the radio plays on low.
I hate it when papa stops at a service area on the Autobahn to stretch his legs, and Mama makes me go for a wee in the bushes. The grassy areas near the bushes are always littered with tissues and toilet paper. You have to watch out that you didn’t step into poo. There are no public toilets at these rest areas. Just some benches and a bin. People have no choice but to do their business there and then in the grass. The cold night air comes in through the open car door and chills the inside, so that I bury myself underneath my duvet and it takes me ages to get warm again. But I am awake, wide awake, and I know once we’re on the Autobahn, it’s not that far anymore. A feeble light parts the dark clouds on the horizon, and I can make out the pine forests, so typical for this part of the country, where Mama lived when she was my age. This is the time when I start to ask every five minutes, “Are we there yet?” Then, after another couple of hours, we come to the one intersection I recognise at once, and the yellow street sign telling me it’s only another twelve kilometres. And I know it’s not very much until I see my Oma.
published 22 December 2011
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