It was not a particularly calm evening, I had got some bad news from home as well. I was cooking, making lunch for the next day, and Heiko was in the living room with Sophie. He came in, paused my Tamil serial (yes, I watch nonsense Tamil serials. They are my cooking friends) and looked like he was going to give me bad news. “There was an attack at a Christmas market in Berlin”, he said.
The last couple of years have seen so many terrorist attacks, I don’t know how to react anymore except wonder about its proximity. Where? Who? How many people are hurt? How did it happen? – these have become standard reactions followed by (for me) a pit in my stomach, worry in my mind and a loud, “Why!”.
The literal translation of Weltschmerz is world pain. I was acquainted with the word a few months ago, scrolling through unique German words that have no English equivalent. From what I understand, it is the feeling of sadness about the state of the world, of the conflict between reality and the ideal. I have Weltschmerz. (Don’t we all!)
I have been trying to write about this for months- after the France attacks, after the many attacks in Turkey, after the shooting at Orlando, after looking at “viral” pictures of children suffering for no fault of their own, after watching reports of people talking to reporters via Skype from their basements in Syria with a dozen blasts in the background. So much hate, so much death, so much suffering.
Last evening, a friend celebrated her birthday at one of the Christmas markets here in Hamburg. How can anyone not like Christmas markets. It’s a warm hug, with the best winter food and mulled wine of course! We were at Santa Pauli and it filled me with warmth. It was full of people- conversing with their family or friends, sometimes even strangers, walking around, buying drinks and food. It was almost as if the large white Lego-shaped barrier around the market and the armed police officers and their vehicles didn’t exist. The shiny, disco ball stood tall, resilient, strong and fearless, uniting us all, keeping each others’ spirits up in spite of the cold and rain.
And then this morning, the television showed me this- a fitting response from a country I am proud to call my second home, despite the gloominess and grumpiness!