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“I like Kafka and Ingmar Bergman”

A mutual friend introduced me to Javid, a 17-year old boy who came alone to Sweden from Afghanistan only six months ago. We meet at my place for lunch, and despite the fact that it’s the first time we’ve met, the conversation flows naturally. Javid is a talkative person and exclaims: “It’s so good to be here!”

We talk a little about Sweden and Javid tells me that he already likes his new country and the people here. With very good Swedish he claims that Swedish is a difficult language.

“I find it hard to learn when to use ‘en’ and when to use ‘ett’, and I mix them up all the time”, he says.

I laugh a little and try to console him with the fact that there’s people who have lived in Sweden their whole lives and don’t know when to use “en” and when to use “ett”. No big deal. And I tell him that it took me six years of Spanish lessons before I even dared to have a conversation in Spanish. Javid laughs too.

And Javid tells me that he loves to read and that he has recently learnt how to. Up until four years ago he was illiterate and worked 10 hours a day as a tailor in Iran. Even his customers understood that Javid could neither read or write and offered to teach him during his breaks at work. Javid got books to read and he learnt quickly.

“I like Kafka”, says Javid and shines with his eyes. “And I like Ingmar Bergman.” I’m embarrassed that I’m not keeping up in the conversation about Ingmar Bergman, and I have to admit that I’ve never seen or read anything by him. Javid talks emphatically about “The Seventh Seal” and fills in the gaps in my knowledge.

We take a walk and when we pass by the music school Javid asks me if he could possibly play guitar there. “I like Yngve Malmsteen, I’d like to play electric guitar like him”, he says with a smile.

Soon, Javid will be starting in college. He hopes to be able to get into the Aesthetic Program and develop his interest for music and art. At the same time, he says that he wants to get even better at Swedish and learn more about Swedish culture. “Sweden is a good country. I’m glad that I was able to come here”, he says, as his eyes light up again.

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