“God, I’m depressed,” I told my stepfather, when he phoned me last week. “I think I’m homesick. I should move home, move out of this country, move in with you, become a primary school teacher and learn how to drive. I’m wasting my life in this country. I can’t even speak German properly.”
“Don’t be silly,” he said. “You know you shouldn’t make any rash decisions when you’re suffering from a bout of depression. Anyway, it’s probably Seasonal Adjustment Disorder. Just go to your doctor, he’ll prescribe you something.”
“I do not have Seasonal Adjustment Disorder.”
“Lots of people suffer from Seasonal Adjustment Disorder.”
“Well, I don’t. I’m moving back to England. You better clean out the spare room. Me and Rico will share a room, just while I’m getting my P.G.C.E. And when I’m done, I’ll move down to Devon. Rico will love Devon. We’ll spend summers in Brixham, eating scones.”
“You sound like you’re seriously suffering from Seasonal Adjustment Disorder. You need to go to your doctor and see if he’ll transfer you to a specialist.”
I sighed. “He’ll definitely transfer me to a specialist,” I said, reluctantly. “In Germany, they literally refer you to a specialist every time you sneeze.”
“You better stay in Germany, Jacinta, and go to a specialist, and tell him your stepfather thinks you’re suffering from Seasonal Adjustment Disorder.”
I was desperate to get my stepdad off of the subject of Seasonal Adjustment Disorder, so I started telling him about Thilo Sarrazin.
“There’s this guy over here. He’s really depressing. He’s on the cover of every single paper, every magazine, he’s on the radio, he’s on the telly. He’s like the German Victoria Beckham or something. Only he hates foreigners. Everything he says, it’s just designed to make Germans hate foreigners and foreigners hate themselves. Actually, I don’t mean foreigners….”
“You mean immigrants,” my stepdad said helpfully.
“I mean ethnic minorities. And it’s working! He’s winning! I hate myself, I actually hate myself. It’s what he wants, and he’s winning. He’s just spewing out this Nazi propaganda and they all love him, you know, he’s winning, oh God, I hate him, I just can’t bear listening to him anymore, having to listen to him, to his racist, provocative, disgusting views, it’s like being forced to swallow an aspirin of hatred every day…”
“But, Cint,” said my stepdad, “these silly shock jocks are all over the world. It’s a silly trend, from America, you know, like that awful Dr. Laura woman. They’re hideous and despicable and that, but they’re everywhere, these rightwing radio hacks, you can’t avoid them.”
“Jim,” I said. “He’s not a rightwing radio person. He’s a politician.”
“He’s a politician?”
“He’s with the Bundesbank.”
“He’s with the Bundesbank?”
“He’s like, half a politician and half a civil servant.”
I suddenly realized I didn’t actually know what Thilo Sarrazin actually was. Thank God, I thought, that he would never know just how badly integrated foreigners in Germany really are.
“Who is this guy, Cint?”
I bit my lip. “He’s a Social Democrat,” I said, finally.
My stepfather didn’t speak for at least seven seconds. Finally, he said: “Maybe you will just have to come back home, Cint.”
“I can’t come home, Jim,” I said, bristling. “I just paid out €110 for Rico’s Schulranzen.”
I wrote a story about Thilo for my Lesebühne in Neukölln, “Rakete 2000”. But I got sick – shivery and ill, my joints ached – and I went home, without reading it. When I woke up, Sarrazin had resigned. I bought a B.Z. and a guy on the U-Bahn tapped his picture and grinned at me. “My uncle will give you a job in his shop, Thilo,” he said, grinning, and I grinned back. And then he added: “Maybe.”