By Fariba Amiri

We were going to Stuttgart to get some of the luggage we had left there with Alah Nur. We call him “Sha Pacha,” which means king in its common usage. Looking at the view outside, he goes deep into his mind and suddenly starts. “You see the train tracks, the trains, and even the seat, you are sitting close to the window and you see the meadow outside, you may not believe it, but it was a dream to reach one day for eight months, some months ago. I passed the Serbian border, the most difficult border I have ever seen. The border is surrounded by smugglers, and whoever tries to pass it without paying them, they will cut the body into pieces.” Alah Nur speaks with a heavy pain in his eyes.

“What do you mean?” I ask, with no other words in mind.

“I had tried to pass this dreadful way for eight months with a boy from Kandahar, who was also my age. He was a bit timid about this way of passing the Serbian border to arrive in Germany, because we had no smuggler with us. He was scared to cross the border without paying smugglers, who were the main moderators of the area. This was a place where not even the police could enter. No one was able to stray from the camp for more than two days. There was a ‘present’ sheet every day. If anyone would stay out longer, they had to clean up the camp for one week.”  He pauses and adds, “each time planning to pass the border we had only some biscuit and a bottle of water with us. We had to succeed, and if we failed we had to go back to the camp as fast as possible.”

“But, why did you choose to cross Serbia’s border?”

“It was shorter, and we had the customs officers on our side; the products from Turkey pass through Serbia to get to Germany. So, for people to pass this way was easier, but we had to pay the smugglers who are connected with the drivers of the trucks 6,000 euros. We could hide in the trucks and arrive at our destination, if we had money. I decided to try passing the border myself, so I had to pass a long way, to turn all the area where smugglers were leading to reach the custom and hide myself in one of them or grab a hold of it as it moves by passing the checkpoint. On one of our attempts to pass the border we got on a truck that was carrying luxury cars like Ferrari, Sport, and Lamborghini. We stayed hidden in the cars of the truck. But the police came and took us from the truck. It was the first time I ever sat in a Lamborghini! Hopefully it will not be the last.”

“How did the Police catch you? 

“I was switching the buttons of the car so much, I didn’t even know the model. Last night friends showed me, and I was shocked. The Serbian people treat the refugees well, but the smugglers do not. I was captured by the smugglers two or three times, but as I was able to speak Pashto, they just beat me and didn’t do more, but that made me stay in bed for days. If there were Arabs or Kurd people or Hazara people, the smugglers would split them off. They use guns, knives, axes, and construction tools for torture. There were other boys with us who stopped trying and wanted to to find ways to pay the smugglers. The last time we decided to get into another truck, we went in by holding our hands on the metal bars on the side of the truck and that was breathtaking. I cut the truck’s tarpaulin in the shape of an ‘L’ because if I would cut it more the wind intensity would tear it. The hole grew larger, and so to prevent the rupture I took off the laces of my shoes and I made some small holes in a zigzag shape with a blade on both sides of the ‘L,’ and then I laced it. If it would remain open, we would get frozen. We were there for almost two nights. We were inside of the same truck for two nights. The driver was sleeping about four or five hours at a time. We slept and ate very little there.”

“What if you wanted to pee?”

“We were doing it in the truck, peeing into a carton. I knew where we were going, the countries and the cities. I memorized the map and all my mind was awakened.  When I put my head out of the roof of the truck I saw German on the panels and I saw that we were in Germany then.  We started kicking hard against the door until the driver heard us and came to open it. He looked scared and he asked us to stay quietly inside. He told us to hide our heads.”

“Do you know why?”

“Of course, because of the police. If the police would know about the presence of someone in his truck they would put him in prison for years with a thousand punishments. He would be accused of the crime of human trafficking. That’s why he carried us into a village and stopped to open the door and let us out. He was Turkish. I knew some Turkish, and I asked him to call the police to come get us. ‘Abi, polisi ara lutfen,’ I said in Turkish.

“He replied, ‘tamam tamam, okay okay. I will call. You stay silent here. Don’t make any noise,’ he said while looking scared, his face white. But instead, he rushed to the front, put the truck in gear and left us there. He left us in the village, so we started walking until we saw the police car pass us, and we called to them to take us. They did, and they left us in the Gissen camp where we registered ourselves.”

13 September, 2022