Yet I told myself that it was irrational. In no time they would be back, and we would be off on our holiday together. Besides, their father would have been hysterical on the telephone:
"Are you mad? Why aren't the boys here? I need them as much as you do."
Was it a premonition? My younger son was experiencing the same, strange feeling. But, like Constantin, I could not show my emotions in public. Like him, I complied with the form, head high, ready to face reality. I said nothing but could not contain the tears in my eyes as I watched him walk away, proud and strong. Even from the back of his fragile little neck, I could tell that my Tini was biting his lip and sighing resolutely.
Alexander stopped at the last corner and blew a final kiss, then suddenly they both vanished, swallowed into the crowd of travelers.
This was my last image of them.
They were stepping into a trap their father had set. My little birds would be transformed into puppets on a string, controlled by their father's hands. They would be taught to fear their mother, to wipe all thoughts of her from their minds. Caught in this never-ending nightmare, I am no longer the woman I was: I have lost my sense of reserve and can no longer hide my feelings. I am in despair. Privacy no longer has any importance. I don't care who witnesses my emotions. All I care about is justice for my sons.
I am their mother. I am the one who gave birth to them, carried them inside my womb, feeling them grow inside my body as an intrinsic part of me. I could feel their kicks grow stronger by the day, already sensing their different identities. I fed them, cuddled them, calmed their fears. Since the day I gave birth to them, my life has been devoted to them. How can I go on living when a part of me has been torn away?
But I will never abandon them. I will never be dragged into self-pity and resignation. I will stay strong and composed, otherwise I will never be able to release them.
My own mother wrote to them: "The years pass, and we pray that God will reunite us before we vanish from this earth. Hope is the last thing to die."
Hope has also become my only solace, my only resource. This is the story of a mother whose life relies on hope. A mother who cannot even talk to her sons, who has been wiped out of their existence. I do not know when they will be free again or when they will be able to read this book, but deep in their hearts they must know that I have not abandoned them, as I know they have not abandoned me. A mother cannot be rubbed out like a spelling mistake.
How deep and unquestioning a child's love is! No one can love so freely and so unreservedly, yet only a mother's love is boundless. This is what "they" are trying to eradicate. The only way this can happen is through systematic manipulation, because my children have always loved me, and because I am their mother.
"They" are a small-minded, bigoted, close-knit community in the heart of Europe, in a small provincial town in Lower Saxony in Germany. "They" are by no means typical of Germans in general, let me hasten to add. "They" would not have mattered at all had they not categorized me as a "foreign mother"---for them an unpardonable sin. Their xenophobia, which encouraged my husband to abduct my children when I had custody of them and then to refuse me all access, should alarm every citizen of the so-called civilized societies.
The story I have to tell is an outrageous one. Confronted by a wall of nationalism, corruption, and legal loopholes, I have used every avenue available to me: the media, embassies, European institutions. I have fought in England, France, Germany, and now even in the United States. So far, no politician, no senior official, no diplomat, no judge has been able to help me obtain the rights due to a mother. A German province and its courts have been allowed to victimize me as if the so-called new Europe did not exist.
© Catherine Meyer 1999. Published with permission of the publisher, Public Affairs.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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