Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Chapter 4: Canada

Is it really all that much to ask to move to Canada? My mum's brother lives there with his family. There's only six of us. Canada's a big country, I read somewhere that it is bigger than Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia combined, but that its population is less than Iraq's. It's got so much empty space!

Iraq is lost. We can never go back there. Even if it were safe, we might still have enemies targeting us for revenge on my father or because of something I did or something Mama did. Even if we felt safe from that, the memories of what we lived through there are too awful. Even if we got over the memories, Iraq was never ours in the first place. Well, it was. But a very long time ago. Now, if you're a Christian you are no longer welcome.

Syria hates us. Whenever I'm on a bus or in a store, I can tell. As soon as they hear my accent, or sometimes they can even tell just by looking... I can feel their stares and their anger. I can feel the hatred shooting out of their eyes like lightning bolts. Sometimes they tell me that it's my fault prices have gone up so much, or it's my fault that Damascus isn't as safe as it used to be. I want to ask them if they know how much prices have gone up back home? Or if they realise that I am paying three times more in rent than my Syrian neighbour pays? Or why they complain about the tiny bit of crime in Damascus when we have survived a war?

I want to go to a country where I can move on, where I can be myself. I want to get a job that pays a proper salary and I want to work somewhere where I am respected. I want my sisters to finish school and marry good men. I want my grandmother to spend her last days resting and my mother to enjoy new clothes and nice appliances in her house and the knowledge that her children have a future.

We don't belong here because we are Christians. I know Muslim Iraqis are also living hard times in Syria, but at least this is their world. I am tired of always being the target, always being the brunt of someone's jokes. I want to go where people think the way I think and celebrate the same holidays as me.

I've never known a normal life, and I can't even imagine a world where I wouldn't wake up ten times at night thinking the police is knocking on the door to deport us. What would it be like to walk on the streets without staring at the ground for fear of someone around me getting mad? What would it be like to plan a future, to get married and dream with my wife about our house and our children and their families? Is it really too much to ask to go to Canada?

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