A Lost Soul
So clear in my eye
As though it was in slow motion
Like the true beginning of the word “goodbye”
Like the arm which pulled me aside
Towards a place where I could not see
I could not hear
And I could not even breathe
Yet I was still alive
After what felt like eternity
I saw a light again
I heard the screams again
Yet I still could not breathe
On the floor was the arm which saved me
Except now I felt the touch of death upon him
A body so still and cold
Lying down without a soul
To this day and until the end of time
I will remember how my angel passed
And became truly mine
In 2011, I was an eight year old who loved to take long walks. Although this may seem to be completely normal characteristic for a kid, it was unacceptable for a child to wander where I lived. In Syria, kidnappings and bombing incidents are as common as car crashes in the United States.
On a beautiful Summer day in May of 2011, I convinced my parents to allow me to take a walk to the library located just 1 mile away. On my journey home, I heard the whistling sound of a bomb flying through the sky. Usually, I would know to run and hide but this time I froze. It was not the fear of being crushed by a bomb which stunned me; I froze because I was scared that my parents would never let me take walks again. I was suddenly saved by an arm which managed to push me underneath a car. After hours and hours of complete silence, I regained the ability to hear and stepped out into the real world again. The bloody roads are perhaps the only image I recall clearly from childhood. I then knelt beside the arm which saved me; the arm of a man I now call my angel.
Is She Me?
Imagine sharing something from the bottom of your heart and not have a single person understand you. Now imagine feeling like this every time you open your mouth. Whether I am with my family at home, or with my friends at school, I am lost. I’m lost in the maze of the deepest parts of my identity. A part of me wishes to recall every dark moment I have lived in my past and use my experience to change the world, while another desires nothing more than to forget the horrors I have witnessed and become an American who’s completely oblivious to the events occurring in the world. I have seen myself standing before a mirror and not recognize the person I have become. The person who dares to leave her Arab beliefs behind and wears revealing clothes and attends a party as though it’s who she is. Perhaps it is, I don’t know. How can I know? In order to fit in, I have been forced to become this person who’s so happy yet so lost. Forced because I can no longer be the person who shares stories of bombings without everyone around me staring in horror. Horror at the realization that the series of unfortunate events which I have experienced have become nothing more than normal in my eyes. She who I see before me is meant to be terrified of the idea of tanks and guns but I am not, for they are my truth, my reality.
A Tale of Two Souls
I was born on a warm summer day in Iraq. Two months after my birth, my home was struck by an American missile and destroyed. Personally, I do not care about this home because I don’t remember it. After fleeing to Syria in 2006, my family was able to temporarily find peace in a new land. This is the land I remember. The land where I met my first soul. I recall riding horses and petting sheep as though they were my best friends. I recall having a small tree house which I spent all my days reading in. According to my mother I was the quietest child you’ll ever meet, this I loved about me. While I knew that I was a part of a society which saw me as nothing but the future wife of some man, I had an imagination so pure it helped me escape. It helped me dream. I was, however, very careful never to dream too much for that was dangerous; I never actually allowed myself to have a career plan because it just wasn’t going to happen. The most difficult aspect was forcing myself not to dream of going to college. I call this soul my shadow. She’s the only person who has ever truly known me. She’s seen death, horror, and fear but she never failed to smile. Everyday until the end of time I will apologize to her for not being able to be a child. For having to grow up in a society that banished hope. For having to sing lullabies to silence the screams. She is the deepest part of me which will always and forever chase me.
The other soul I like to call Amal (hope). The amal which I never dared to have that is very much real now. After coming to the United States with my family, my life completely changed. I could no longer be the quiet girl who didn’t dare to dream. I became everything that stood against the old me. I became an ambitious dreamer who’s so very loud. Loud in her beliefs and in her desires. I will be perfectly candid and admit that the person I have become is the worst nightmare of every Muslim man who wishes to have a submissive wife. I do not want to marry. I do not want to remain silent. And I want nothing more than my education because I can earn it.
Unfortunately, with this Amal came the desire to rebel against every cultural belief my previous soul was forced to believe in. And while the rebellion was necessary, it caused damage. I stood against my family and went to college far away from home. I stood against my culture and changed how I dress and speak. And most importantly, I stood against myself and shamed the part of me which stayed silent for far too long.
I wish my two souls would simply get along.
Peculiar Yet Warm
I am not quite sure on whether I will ever be able to find peace in my internal conflict. While it is a necessity to move on; I can’t appreciate where I am now, if I don’t recall where I was 10 years ago. For what it’s worth, I understand me and I always will.
Perhaps I must find the peace in being alone.