I am both foreign and not foreign in Denmark. I know both emotions. I've been here for more than 10 years, but sometimes it's like I don't exist.
I had been driven by car for 10-12 hours and was dropped off at a large railway station. There were two boys on the corner smoking, and I noticed that they spoke Farsi. I went up to them, and my first words were: "It’s lovely here in Canada!" "Canada? What do you mean?” they said, “This is Denmark! No, we mean it. This is Copenhagen. Denmark. You are in Denmark now.” Denmark. For me it is Copenhagen - Sandholm - Jelling - Padborg - Aabenraa.
But before that I had traveled several times from Afghanistan. To Iran. I worked as a brickie, built houses. Took the money back to Afghanistan and became a trader. Bought animals from the farmers in the province, sold to middlemen, who sold them on to the slaughterhouses in Kabul. Cattle, horses, lamb. The currency was money, sometimes Kalashnikovs and pistols.
Being poor was never an issue. I just eat half a loaf instead of a whole one. But sleeping with a Kalashnikov on either side of the bed is a problem. Worrying if the children come home is a problem.
I am happy to be in Denmark. Here I sleep peacefully; the children go to school. But sometimes I feel like I almost don't exist. I have been working since I was a boy of seven, but here in Denmark I have never worked, because I never learned the language well enough.
Yahya Aman Zamani / 68 / male / married / seven children / pensioner / Aabenraa / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 2008 / residence permit 2009