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Letters from a strange woman

Appeared in four parts in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Nov.-Dec. 2013

Von Autor Markus Wanzeck

A young woman from the Münsterland region reads a few lines and realizes that her past was a lie. She’s not an orphan. Her mother in Nepal is alive. The story of an emotional earthquake.

She has nothing left, not even the sound of her name. She doesn’t know when she was born or to whom. It is a warm, dim evening in late summer when Dayita’s world begins to topple. She is standing at a kiosk of blue, dented sheet metal. It sways. The ground heaves. The city lurches. People scream. Then it goes dark.

It used to be other people who found her life story improbable. Friends of the family. Schoolmates. Sometimes even passersby. She didn’t look like her parents or anybody else in town. Asked about her dark skin, she told everyone what her parents had told her: “I’m an orphan, adopted from Nepal as a baby. My mother worked at a leprosy station. My dying mother asked her to adopt me.”

Nepal was never her home. Far off, colorful, a land of adventure, snowcapped mountains, “the roof of the world.” Her parents liked to show her coffee table books …