Grrrrrrrr………the alarm clock woke me up suddenly, I thought to myself why the alarm clock was always prompt, maybe it should be a minute or two late. Anyway, my thoughts had taken five minutes already. I started running around, pulling on trousers, brushing my teeth and drinking a hot cup of coffee all at the same time, not forgetting to grab my keys and phone. It was now 4:25am. Putting my shawl in place, I was ready to fight the harsh morning cold. Against all odds, I must go to work now.
This was my morning routine for the past three years with only three months of vacation over the years and little savings sufficient to get me through the bills. It suddenly striked me, today is Friday, as usual, Mia, Kim and I will chat over a cup of coffee in the evening, I always looked forward to our meetings. Girls will always be girls.
To be honest, I hate the cold; I freeze easily. But, I love how the snow tickles my nose, I love how the trees are naked
and the sky dresses them in white like a dress. As I sang aloud in the train, bearing the glances from everyone, life is indeed beautiful, I thought. On reaching the next train stop, a great influx of refugees struggled and scampered to get on the train, ‘what is wrong with these people, why can’t they stay in their country? ‘the taxes I pay will be used in making them comfortable’ I thought. I was visibly angry and irritated. The politicians are accepting the refugees to fuel their ambitious plans and selfish agendas and the labour force bear the responsibilities. I was deep in thought untill a pregnant woman fainted very close to me.
‘She needs water please, somebody help, she has not drank water for two days’, what!!!, I thought to myself, water is quite cheap. I was moved to pity and offered my water. Immediately, she regained consciousness and her story began.
Living in the suburbs in Syria, with little or no money to feed, Life was beautiful. the family lived together in a big old house which provided shelter to grandma, three brothers, their wives and 10 children in total. The house was full of smiles, with fragrance of flowers and smells of freshly baked bread penetrating even the darkest holes. During the day, the men went about their business while the women set out to the markets, farms and others went in search of friends to gossip. Grandma was always at home caring for the little children. In the evenings, the whole family gathered for dinner and prayers. Life went on smoothly untill the political situation deteriorated and military uniforms became neighbours. Gun shots filled the air, and the family lived in perpetual fear like rats in a hole.
There was a loud bang on the door and amidst screams, grandma was raped to death. Nadia, who was called the first wife was shot directly on the stomach, struggling to hold her premature baby and struggling for a second chance, she died.
The sweet world was bitter and sour. Confusion hung in the air. Europe was the only hope to eat a one square meal and sleep without the sounds of gunshots penetrating the dream world.
The journey to the unknown began.
Packing all the family’s worth in a bag, the journey began.
Struggling with hunger, thirst and suffocation, three of the ten children died. Abla, the second wife, went into labour, and God blessed the family with a set of twins. This was a reason to smile again.
Three days later, the babies were infected and there was no proper medical care.
With a fresh hint of hope aboard the boat taking the family to Europe, they were uncertain of what the future holds.
Within a second, like a flash, the boat emptied its contents into the sea.
The wailing struck even the hardest of rocks.
Abla lost all her children. Mohabat lost her husband.
I sat fixed. I was suddenly sick. ‘war is bad’, ‘war is bad’, I kept repeating to myself.
My perception and judgements about the refugees changed instantly. I was indeed comfortable wearing my own shoes. What is the world doing? What are individuals and organisations doing? who takes the blames?