Why are Tamils all black
From Sri Lanka to Franconia : From refugee child to heart surgeon
From rags to riches! But that's not a career. This is by no means an identity. It doesn't matter what your money is working on, but what you are working on. From a minor unaccompanied refugee to a cardiac surgeon? Much better.
If you get off in the small Franconian town of Bad Neustadt, you will see a slightly larger hill on the left in front of you, which the Bad Neustadters also call a mountain, and on top of it there is something quite extensive, latently ugly: This is one of the largest heart clinics in Germany and Europe. Umeswaran Arunagirinathan operated a bypass there early in the morning. He probably greeted the patient belonging to the bypass just as he does always and at all times of the day: "Moin, Moin!" Optionally: "Moin, Moin, dear ones!"
“Moin, Moin!” Doesn't necessarily have a majority in Bavaria, but Arunagirinathan doesn't see why he should learn a new language just because he came from Hamburg to the Bavarian province. And “Grüß Gott!” Fits really badly now. Because precisely to prevent this from occurring, the man with the coronary disease was finally lying in front of him on the operating table.
It has not happened in years that patients have complained about him: like the severe bypass of room 513 at the Hamburg University Hospital. During the night, a Pakistani refugee came to his bed and pretended to be a doctor, the patient said during the next morning's rounds. Pakistani refugee was all wrong. If so, then a Tamil refugee. And just a few hours before, this Tamil refugee and his colleagues first split the breastbone, along the entire length, then opened the pericardium and so on.
Now, in the early afternoon, Arunagirinathan is Libero. That means, like in football, he has no direct opponent, he remains in a defensive position of watch out and has to be called in constantly: for example to “open” or “close” a patient in one of the four operating theaters. This is OP German.
He's not tall and looks quite slim in his light blue hospital suit. Everything about him is openness, every gesture, every look, every word. He's one of those people who don't seem to know a reserve. But that alone cannot explain why this former unaccompanied minor refugee walked through doors that only open to a few, not to mention unaccompanied minors.
The most beautiful human organ
We'll take the boss's room! Explains Umeswaran Arunagirinathan and with a half turn of his head says what a good sign it is when the chief physician of the clinic for cardiac surgery says to an assistant doctor: You'd best sit in my room!
Tall, serious Franconian spruces stand in front of the large windows and keep their branches freezing into December gray. From inside she feels sorry for a little jungle of the chief physician's room. Entertaining periodicals like “Transplantation aktuell” or “Kardio Intermezzo” lie on the desk, above which a blooming poppy field shines in oil. On the visiting table is a model of a human heart, provided in several places with rather large, but very filigree metal parts. These are valves, mitral valves, aortic valves. Nice, isn't it? Asks Arunagirinathan, leaving it open whether he means more the pierced heart or the natural one. "For me, the heart is the most beautiful human organ."
Like every Tamil boy, Umeswaran Arunagirinathan once explained to his father the basic concepts of the world, everything that one absolutely had to know in order to get through life. When an elephant is chasing you, he had told his eldest son, you must never run straight, but always in a zigzag, that makes the elephants nervous. His father did not have a good relationship with elephants.
The family lived in the north of Sri Lanka, in Puthur. Most lived in self-built huts made of mud and wood, covered with palm leaves, but the Arunagirinathans had a hut made of concrete. And a small rice field right next to the jungle. But at night the elephants came to celebrate a rice orgy in Father Arunagirinathan's field. So the head of the family soon began to sleep in it, and when he heard the elephants coming, he would begin to drum and they would lose their appetite from being so nervous. Probably the most nervous elephants in Sri Lanka lived around Puthur.
Umeswaran Arunagirinathan always knew that he had a very special father who was prone to a completely adventurous approach to upbringing. He almost never fought. A boy in the neighborhood had a burned leg, it came from a red-hot iron. The boy only had to look at his leg to know what would happen if he didn't obey.
Of course, that did not mean that the childhood of the current sweeper of the Bad Neustadt cardiac surgery department was free from beating, he simply spoke too poor English. Chinese would be easier, he thought under the teacher's cane. You could get lashes with a stick for uncut fingernails, but self-protection was much easier in this case.
Singapore? Totally wrong direction
In 1991, at the age of twelve, Umeswaran Arunagirinathan saw an airplane for the first time. It was the plane that was supposed to bring him, the firstborn son of the family, to safety. Safe from the civil war, safe from the constant attacks by the government troops, their helicopters, which shot at the villages, but also from the "Tamil Tigers", whom he called "our big brothers" as a child like everyone else.
The rebels fought for the rights of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, because they no longer had any. Tamils did not even have the right to attend university.
The prospective specialist at the Rhön-Klinikum Bad Neustadt knows very well that the deadly hostility of the ruling Sinhalese majority towards the Tamils was not entirely without support. During British colonial rule, only Tamils had access to senior civil servants. A privileged minority keeps an underprivileged majority in check, so there are no uprisings, no revolutions, but we have our peace, thought the British and drank Ceylon tea according to their colonial wisdom.
The machine flew to Singapore. Singapore? Totally wrong direction. The goal was an uncle in Hamburg. And then his panic about flying. He hadn't even been able to say goodbye to his family. He was all alone on board, his beautiful, strong, cheerful mother would not stop crying all day; the biggest problem, however, was that all around the Boeing he heard almost nothing but flogging. And Umeswaran Arunagirinathan made the decision of his life: he would only answer "Yes" to all questions. With “Yes” you are guaranteed to get through life easier than with “No”. Inquiries are much rarer, and he didn't really have any more options.
Of course there were situations in the later life of Umeswaran Arunagirinathan when he was tempted to say "No". For example with Mr. Claussen von Zimmer 513 in the Hamburg University Clinic. That was the severe bypass that had suspected him of being a refugee with profile neurosis in the wrong place. As a ward doctor, he had to remove the thoracic drainage for him, in which the draining wound fluid collected, that hurt anyway, why not a little more pain as a punishment? But instead he was as gentle as he could, explaining to Mr. Claussen every movement of his hand and of course the medication he had to take. No Answer. No look. The heavy bypass looked demonstratively out of the window.
"You nothing sauna"
Or when he arrived here in Bad Neustadt and sat in the sauna in the fitness studio for the first time. "You nothing sauna," one of them said to him. He looked at the naked, sweating semantic oracle and tried to basically affirm the man despite his residual German. One could also say that in the case of Umeswaran Arunagirinathan positive thinking has become habitual. That is of course already in his job description. No !, say the hearts he is dealing with. Yes, we can !, he replies and is almost always right.
Also, there is probably nothing else left to do if you are on the run alone at the age of twelve and only the smuggler knows where to go. But he saw straight away that the place where he landed from Singapore couldn't possibly be Hamburg. The direction was right, but the slope was as small as possible and the people were all black. However, even he knew that Europeans are completely faded due to the lack of sunlight. What was he doing in Africa? He could only ask his smuggler, whom everyone called the “boss,” but bosses don't give interviews, at least not to the refugee proletariat. So Togo. Month after month passed, Umeswaran Arunagirinathan, the underage unaccompanied refugee from Puthur, where the most nervous elephants of Sri Lanka live next door, turned 13. He learned to dance African, he can still do that today: "Hold up his butt like a duck, stick out your chest and flap your arms like a chicken ”.
And then he crossed the border to Ghana alone under the protection of the skirts of fat African market women. The terminus was Mümmelmannsberg, Hamburg Mümmelmannsberg, a sad large housing estate from the seventies, formerly also called Bunny Hill. This is where the uncle lived.
One expects a lot from the residents of Bunny Hills, but not that they stand out for their particular professional advancement. Even at the Mümmelmannsberg Comprehensive School, it wasn't necessarily helpful to draw attention to yourself through diligence.
"But I wanted to learn, I was so hungry for school," explains Umeswaran Arunagirinathan; unfortunately, he adds, he's not a particularly intelligent person. He says it with devastating seriousness. German didn't seem much more hopeful than English either. “I always had to learn a lot.” But he loved his teachers, and they probably sensed the response to their attention. He had made three promises to his mother. He would never drink alcohol, never gamble or become a doctor.
He was never one of them
Last but not least, the fact that mathematics fell to him and he helped those with a different talent saved him from being socially ostracized as a nerd. People who know math can't help it. Natural intelligence is forgiven almost everywhere, as opposed to acquired intelligence.
And yet: The diligence of the partially gifted student Umeswaran Arunagirinathan does not explain what became of him. Young men of his origin usually find out who they are in gangs; Here it is determined which norms and values apply and above all: which hierarchies. Umeswaran Arunagirinathan? He was never one of them.
He knew that at the latest when he was 16 years old when he was sitting on a basketball court in Mümmelmannsberg, on the same bench every day. It wasn't the sport that kept him coming back, it was a player. His name was Martin, he had blue eyes, was blond and a head taller than him. The observer's mind suggested several times not to go to the basketball court, but his voice didn't matter. Not even when he advised against, strongly advised against writing the blue-eyed basketball player a love letter. Zigzag may be the right way to get around elephants, but otherwise almost never.
The next day he went to the sports field, trembling all over and heard Martin's teammate shouting from afar: “Here comes the fagot!” From then on, under the male youth of Mümmelmannsberg, that was his identity, even well-meaning people didn't want to see him alone at any price otherwise they would have the same suspicions. And a homosexual is even more contemptible than a woman: a hermaphrodite, a hybrid being.
A hybrid being? You could also say that it tends to represent human perfection. But only he knew that. He climbed onto the roof of the skyscraper he lived in and wondered if he should fall down there now. The thought of his mother held him back.
He had only one choice: he would have to find his way alone. The parallel society that could catch him did not exist. He ran a marathon. He would also manage that of life: Even as a schoolboy, he was repeatedly threatened with deportation, and he did every job to finance his medical studies in Lübeck. When he became a nurse at the Lübeck heart ward and sat in on the operating room, he soon knew: That, that is exactly what I want too! Again and again he found advocates, the most important one: Professor Dr. Dr. Hermann Reichenspurner, also known as Hamburg's ace of hearts.
His father addressed him as "you"
Reichenspurner brought him to the Hamburg Heart Clinic as an assistant doctor, that was in 2008, and in the same year he was naturalized. Reichenspurner even invited him to the opera, first row, seats eleven and twelve, here he saw Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice" as a ballet. Thomas Mann, he too is “a wrong boy”.
But even if his parents had sat next to him, they wouldn't understand. When he finally saw his father again in London, an aged somehow strange man, this father did not take him in his arms. "He just looked at me with a smile from head to toe and said in Tamil: Waa, Waanko !, Come on, come!" Had he heard correctly? His father addressed him as "you"? It was respect, it was respect; a respect that made the son infinitely sad. And one thing, he knew, was still missing: marriage. Finally a woman.
I can't possibly concentrate on one woman, he kept explaining to mother, father and siblings. Maybe even now they still believe it. He has to undergo one hundred heart operations on his own responsibility in order to be licensed as a specialist. Hamburg's ace of hearts did not give him this opportunity, which is why Umeswaran Arunagirinathan came to Bad Neustadt. How can you go from Hamburg to the Bavarian provinces as a non-organic German? Asked his Turkish removal service. His mind knew the answer, his heart didn't. I have a garden with three apple trees here, he could have answered. Eating an apple was his childhood dream.
In 2015 Umeswaran Arunagirinathan from Neu-Bad-Neustadt took in a young Syrian refugee, because who, if not he, should set a good example for the rest of Bad-Neustadt? His name was Achmed. It tended to be more difficult than heart surgery. He wrote a book about it, also about it. It is called "The Foreign German".
The silent heavy bypass of room 513 in the Hamburg University Hospital was able to speak in the end. On his last day in the hospital, he patted the doctor on the back and said, “You are a good boy.” He called him “Dr. Umes ”, like everyone else. Because no one can remember Arunagirinathan, at least not an organic German.
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