24 October, 2009

Lost Luggage Claim #1

Loneliness and alone

Passenger’s Name
: Dr. Political Exil
Date: 06.06.1990
Point of Departure: outside the Damascus police headquarters after a 24-hour interrogation
Final Destiny: Lahti, Finland towards a vague promise of employment at the Lahti General Hospital

Listing of “Then” Luggage Content:

  • Certificate of General Medicine from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Stamped governmental form allowing Bulgarian citizen the permission to marry a foreigner from the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Marriage certificate issued by the civil status official who held the ceremony at the Sofia civil wedding hall
  • Wedding photo of bride, groom, mother-in-law, father-in-law and grim looking civil status official holding obligatory glasses filled with champagne
  • Airplane stub from flight back to Damascus, Syria
  • List of invited guests, who attended celebration of passenger’s return after finishing his 8 years of university studies in Bulgaria
  • Passenger’s grandmother’s engagement ring and gold bracelet presented to the young bride of her much-loved grandson to welcome his bride into their family
  • A map of Bulgaria with all the train routes drawn in detailed and miniature red flags pinned to all of the trains his father-in-law rode as chief locomotive driver in the national railway company.
  • Confirmation of a full-time position in the internal medicine department at the Central Hospital of Damascus
  • Copy of mother-in-law’s travel itinerary for her first visit to Damascus
  • Bank statement of available funding for down payment on their new home

Listing of “Now” Luggage Content:

  • Nightmarish memories of 24-hour interrogation at police headquarters
  • Unfathomable relief for being released temporarily, mixed with the dull certainty that the police would take him into custody again soon
  • Intense guilt, knowing that his wife’s premature labour was caused by her panic that he’d be taken and transported to one of the detention centres in northern Syria, never to be heard from again (as happened to three of his fellow students who studied with him in Bulgaria)
  • Joy and relief of the successful birth by caesarean of his darling daughter
  • The terror of having to leave the country 3 days later to avoid further interrogations
  • The endless tears shed by his parents and siblings upon the announcement of his departure; knowing he could no longer communicate with them for risk to their lives
  • The stone weight on his heart not knowing whether he would ever see his family again
  • A letter of intent from the head of administration at the Lathi General Hospital assuring the immigration authorities about their willingness to employ Dr. Political Exil
  • A letter of sponsorship from fellow Damascus doctor living in Lathi to immigration authorities

Passenger’s Complaint:

“Now” luggage piece became permanently lost when my wife stepped out of the train in Rostock, as it waited to board the ferry to Finland. She just needed a bit of fresh air, after being cramped in their train department for over three days while travelling through Europe. She was ignorant of the fact that by stepping on German soil she voided any possibility of us immigrating to Finland.

Officer’s Statement:

Passenger and family were transported back to Germany from Finland immediately after it was made known of passenger’s wife having stepped out of train in Rostock harbour. Passenger and family claimed political asylum. Luggage was lost at this time.

The following situation ensued: 6 years as political refugees, 8 years working as nurse on closed ward in a geriatric facility, 2 year re-qualification program of medical certification, 3 years of temporary hospital postings, recent entry into specialty studies at University Hospital of Rostock.

Luggage never retrieved. Claim case closed.


  1. Lia, I don't know if this is a real story or something you've brilliantly made up, but it is heart-rending.

  2. Fiction based on fact, I suspect, and probably happening to many poor souls. I was surprised to read the name of a Finnish city here.