The move had been free thanks to Pete and a week later I had moved into my new apartment. I was sitting with my parents in the cafeteria, we were enjoying the stylish ambiance and waiting for Pete. As usual, he was late. I wanted to show Mama my apartment (for Paps it was a forbidden area) when he finally arrived.
"Sorry I'm late, Mr. and Mrs. Lichter! My name is Pete Lagerfeld," he said. And then he came up to me, kissed me on the cheek and sat down.
My father suddenly turned pale as chalk.
"Your name is Pete Lagerfeld? Are you 29 years old? Is the name of your mother Claudia?" my father asked excitedly. Pete just nodded in bewilderment. My father said:
"30 years ago I was a high school graduate at the Erich Kästner-Gymnasium in Cologne and a Claudia Lagerfeld from 12b was my girlfriend. After my Abitur, I studied in Tübingen and unfortunately, then we lost sight at each other. You, young man, look just like my father, just cut out of his face. I'm afraid your mother may not have been telling me about something."
"For God's sake, Heinz! You're right! You're right! He looks like a 40 years younger version of Erich," my mother said perplexed.
"Uh, I... I... b... be your son?" stuttered Pete. My father, the tough dog, had already caught himself again and said:
"Well, you talk to your mother first. At the moment, we don't know anything specific. As long as you keep your hands off Caro, you understand?"
"Sure thing! Now please excuse me!" And then he rushed out.
"The same goes for you. Hands off," my father tried to share with his adult daughter. I was through with the whole world. I no longer knew what was wrong or right, light or dark and at all - I couldn't endure anybody around me and went into my apartment without comment for crying. My wise mother said to my father:
"Leave the girl alone! For now, let her just digest the shock. We must first come down, then we can figure out what to do!"
Pete and his mother
I was shocked! For some reason, I thought Caro was finally the one, and now this. Not for long, and we would have had sex! Fucking hell! I would have had sex with my stepsister! It's about time I started talking to my mother! So I called her.
"Hi! Mama! Are you free?"
"Oh, what an honor! My son pays his mother his reference. Was there anything I could do for you selflessly," she asked with dripping cynicism. Ten mins with my mom, and I was choking on guilt.
"Please stop playing games! I want to talk to you about something very important," I replied.
"Then ask and don't disturb me anymore," she said.
"Some things aren't suitable for being discussed on the phone. Where are you? And I' m coming to you," I said.
"I'm in the madrasah, in the women's wing. I do volunteer work here. Men have no access here." My mother in the Madrasah, with the Muslims? What happened now?
"What were you doing with the Muslims?" I asked perplexed.
"I take care that the children get something to eat and that they are helped with their schoolwork. So that they can become capable adults. As I tried to do with you a few years ago," she countered. I slowly lost my patience and said:
"You can confirm that Heinz Lichter is my father if your time permits."
And then I hung up. I had to fucking cry. I turned the phone off completely, drove home and lay down. Fuck you all, everybody!
The next morning:
I was sitting at the breakfast table. The third cup of coffee and I still felt wheeled. I texted Caro love greetings and otherwise left her alone. We both had to chew on these unexpected changes. I got time off at work for this week. I need this all cleared up. It rang the doorbell when I came out of the bathroom. The outdoor camera showed me a man accompanied by a veiled woman.
"Yes, please," I said on the intercom.
"Good morning, Mr. Lagerfeld. I'm Iskandar Bassam. Your mother is with me. May we talk with you for a moment?"
"Please be patient for a moment. I'll get dressed," I said and jumped into my clothes. Then I pressed the door opener. When they stood at my door, I asked them to come in. If the barn owl was my mother, I could only believe. She was completely veiled; even over her eyes hung a veil. What I saw was an anonymous cone. Whatever. I led my guests into the living room.
"Please have a seat. I was just making fresh coffee. Do you want a cup?" I asked as politely as I could.
"That's very kind of you," he said. "My wife gets nothing. She has to avoid eating or drinking outside the house if possible." He sat down and I brought a second cup of coffee. She stood behind him and remained silent.
"Your mother told me about the conversation that you had with her. She was impudent to you. I couldn't tolerate that, so I took her cell phone. Next time you call, you'll have me on the phone. Naturally, a mother cannot conceal the father from her son. She'll answer all your questions," he said.
"I'm not the only one she's hurt by her silence. I have to make a few calls first," I said. She was standing there - doomed to silence, under mountains of fabric and I enjoyed each second.
"I spoke to the Lichter family. They' ll be here in half an hour. Maybe you can tell me, my brother, all the things that have been happening between you. I had never anticipated finding my mother as a servile, nameless cone," I said full of malice.
"You call me brother. Are you a Muslim too?" he asked, perplexed.
"Yes, I converted."
" When your mother converted, she was a single woman. To marry her, I subjected her to the procedure for Purdah of the Brotherhood. Now she knows exactly how to behave as a good Muslimah. All the more incomprehensible was her behavior towards her son. She has to show you the same respect as me her husband. She should apologize to you now. Speak, woman!" he ordered.
"Iskandar Bassam's wife apologizes to her son because of her disrespectful behavior," she said and then remained silent again.
"I would like to offer my guests to drink and eat. Go to the kitchen, Mother, and prepare something. There' ll be five of us with your husband and me." I ordered her to make sure that my guests had enough to drink and eat, and that did so well. Not that we get it wrong: I love my mother, but she had often made me feel how she felt about us men. She could be verbally very brutal. While she rumbled in the kitchen and we waited for the Lichter family, we talked about the Cologne and Duisburg brotherhoods. It turned out that the people of Cologne practiced a much stricter Islam than our association Duisburg-Düsseldorf. Then finally it rang at the door and I greeted the Lichter family. We took a seat and let my mother serve us. While we enjoyed our late breakfast, she was allowed to apologize:
"Pete is the son of Heinz Lichter, with whom I was intimate in my school days. I beg forgiveness from all those who have been angered by my stupid behavior. Islam has opened my eyes and I am deeply ashamed of my selfish behavior."
"I have had a son all along without knowing it. Your behavior is unforgivable! You betrayed my son and me for a life together." Heinz had tears of anger and grief in his eyes. But only he and Veronika knew about his apoplectic stroke, which he had just cured. He died under our hands. I was never supposed to have a father-son conversation to my father and I hated my mother for that now. I screamed:
"Iskandar Bassam! Take this broad away! I never want to see it again!" He disappeared with her without a word. Three mourning people were left behind. The doctor could only determine the death and issued the death certificate. Caro and I took care of the necessary formalities and helped Veronika during those bad days. By the time the funeral was over, I was part of this family and I loved them like one would love a mother and sister, something I never really had.