This morning my father calls me to tell me - once again - the story of his visit to Syria. Maybe 15 years ago. He brought me back two exquisitely carved wooden boxes and a bracelet made from precious stones. For himself, he bought a waistcoat in velvet and silk. He wears it with his dark suit when goes to the opera.
Once again, he spoke about that morning in Damascus when he collapsed in a small park and crawled onto a bench under a massive cedar tree (he knows his trees). When he came to, he was surrounded by a small group of school boys in smart uniforms and eventually they found a common language - Latin.
And again, he told me how these boys peeled him an orange and made him eat it, slowly, slowly. About the grandmother of one of the boys who came running with a pot of herb tea and some bread, about the house with the beautiful courtyard, the vines and the flowers and the whole family who looked after him with laughter and kindness until he was better.
Only now, my father is in tears. I can hear it in his voice and while he puts down the phone to blow his nose, noisily, at the other end, I start crying too. I try to imagine what he looks like when he cries but I can't remember when I last saw him in tears. When his brother died? But I was only ten years old at the time and we all cried. Maybe after Germany won the world cup in the seventies?
The Island of all Together (English subtitles) from Philip & Marieke on Vimeo.