I had never been one to follow the political issues and affairs in my country, let alone world politics or the astounding display of the Game of Thrones, peek-a-boos or the dexterous verbal acrobatics on the world stage. Until, that moment of reckoning a few years back which had drawn me into the many-hued realm of world news on the black and white sheet. I can still call to mind that fateful day (ironically a fruitful one for me thanks to my self-introduction to the news world), 17-th December of 2010, when the Arab Spring sprouted out its seedling in Tunisia from the seeds of discontent and disillusion. The whole episode of which could be attributable to the unpalatable dregs of the nefarious soup of autocracy and kleptocracy with added sectarianism to spice it up, the dregs of poverty, unemployment, income gap and so forth been offered to destitute masses, thus condemning the man on the street to live on the alms-basket.
For an absolute neophyte like me, the middle-eastern newspapers turned out to be news bees, bringing home the salty, spicy grains of truth about the intricate art of political deals, refreshing me in those muggy Arabian mornings. From thenceforth, I happened to be, and still happen to be, the wide-eyed lass with weary eyes fixed to the motion picture on the world screen, the anonymous projectionist unwinding the reel, the kaleidoscopic optics unfolding in front of me at full length.
While I toiled over the political titbits, the age-cold Lady Mucks turned their backs on me in good time. The abstruse rapture this reading exercise has been giving me, bemused the wits of the remaining two souls staying under the same roof, sending chills of outlandish notions down their spine, planting deep-rooted rational convictions in their brain, finally, pushing them at their wit’s end like the somber denouement of a never-ending soap opera.
The journey of my self-discovery from the idle darkness of oblivion to the dazzling brightness of enlightenment as a regular reader has allowed me to catch a glimpse of the wide spectrum of political personalities from the extreme left end to the extreme right. To this day no one has been capable of thus ascending up my appraisal ladder, reaching that pedestal of political and moral high-ground, barring this one worldly figure. I fell for her, the very moment I had started to figure her out, a person next door, an overpowering, overarching, overshadowing presence whose picture brings wistful memories from the back of the beyond. And that person is you, Merkel, the iron lady, Germany’s dear ‘Mutti’ or mother.
While reading the day-to-day news, tender feelings are indubitably the least of those to come to mind, after, witnessing the gladiator combats and mud-slinging exercises in the open political amphitheaters or hearing bombastic behemoths spewing vitriolic hate speech, half-truths and post-truths or watching the stringers of the fourth estate spending sleepless nights uncovering the surreptitious Dionysian orgies of people who are famous for being famous. And nothing could be further from the truth if one could give in to sentimentalism while reading a newspaper crammed with columns of foreign policy fiascos of mindless leaders or stormy fling debacles of artful dealers.
But as unyielding as I thought myself to be, I did give in to a kind of cultish adoration for the aura and charisma of Mutti. The reason for writing to you is your revelation this week of standing down from the party leadership come next March and to not run for another term of chancellorship after 2021. For liberal European leadership, this announcement turned out to be the latest bolt on the quadruple whammy of Brexit, Eurozone crisis, the rise of extreme right populists and the shouting matches with their transatlantic sweetheart taking a serious turn. For they are aware that a Merkel-less EU could be a rudderless ship waiting to crash on the rocky shores.
Now, the reasons why I had been drawn into the orbit of your magnetic persona. As mentioned, I had started my news hunting routine after the Arab Spring happened in 2010. From that time onwards, it had spread to many middle-eastern and North African countries with the most untoward and brutish events, leading on to the worst humanitarian crisis that the world has witnessed in the 21-st century, in Syria. Over the past eight years, I have been dutifully following the events leading to the even worst migration crisis of the century. They were outright refugees in letter and spirit, fleeing for their lives with nothing but the life with them, and not economic migrants seeking a better life on the hallowed European shores. Packed like sardines on makeshift rubber dinghies that capsized under the fury of Mediterranean waves, mind-numbing pictures made their appearance on the front page, of lifeless toddlers dressed up for the frigid, inclement sea, sleeping their big sleep on the lap of the warm Mediterranean shores. Even the act of evoking those morbid pictures takes its toll on squeamish mortals.
Clarion calls resounded from multiple sources and multilateral institutions, the UN included, just went on talking the glib talk. Many countries responded by washing their hands of the huge responsibility of rehabilitating the people on their lands, many invoking security reasons and civilly closing their borders. It was among these callous hearts that the world spotted you extending your hands out, welcoming millions of Syrians to your country, proving your mettle, spelling out the crux of the word ‘Willkommenskultur’ (welcoming culture), to your masses. True to your Evangelical credos, Merkel, daughter of a pastor did what one ought to as a human being, for which your party received the drubbings in the provincial elections till now, culminating in your early exit from the international stage teeming with frivolous humbugs.
A quantum chemistry scientist by training, hailing from Communist East Germany, before the fall of the Berlin wall, your modest, motherly disposition and way of life belies the iron lady within, who singlehandedly steered the whole Europe outwitting even crafty Machiavellian machomen.
I love the way you debate pragmatically with a smile on your lips, shouldering the responsibilities without the slightest trace of angst, your signature hand gesture of clasping hands known as the Merkel Diamond, the way you fight the futile demagogic braggarts with singular facial expressions as the only weapon. You, as a Good Samaritan, helped scour the layers of abominable grimy deposits left over by the deluge of Third Reich yesteryears.
Dear Mutti, I wish you at the helm and not in the backstage, leading the pack and not being one of them, I want to see your picture foremost when I open the world news page. In our current political weather, where a whirlwind of alt-right, neo-Nazist, pro-fascist agencies are on the rise all over, the world needs empathetic leaders like you, to pre-empt future Kristallnachts, as the balance wheel of not just Europe, but the whole world, for, moments are ticking by, time is running out, the history clock couldn’t be wound back and the horror-show on the world stage must culminate in a climactic scène à faire.