By Ibrahim Jaber Ibrahim
The tent will be upsetting on the first night… and then in the first year, and then it will become friendly like a member of the family, but don’t fall in love with it like we did.
Don’t rejoice if they ever build you a health center or an elementary school, that’s not good news at all! Never get involved by asking for stupid demands like building small homes instead of the tents or having water pipes and electricity lines; this means that you’re starting to adapt… and this is death for a refugee… and this is his tomb.
Don’t train your kids to have patience, patience is the plot of the weak, and the plea of the abandoned and a refugee dies if he doesn’t look behind him twice at moments.
You’re not the son of ”there”, always remember this, you have a favor ”here” that can’t be betrayed, never sleep without listing its advantages to your kids, and tell them how your people died, and how they were slaughtered on TV channels because they didn’t clap after the speech. Tell them that you sleep between foreign trees, because you never wished to be bitten by one ”Assad” twice!
People will sell you to each other, that’s how politicians are, solidarity groups will come to you from all countries, you’ll become their electoral slogans.
They’ll use you when they’re seeking God, and people will work hard to visit you in Ramadan and Eids and religious events! Some will take photos of your tired and starving children and your wife who’s sleeping in order to be the subject of an award winning picture!
You’ll learn new languages and new feelings, and soon you’ll have an obscure relationship with exile, and one deceiving night you’ll feel it doesn’t anything more for it to be home, but soon you’ll notice: The trees here don’t grow green like they should, the salt isn’t salty, and people who passed away won’t forgive me, and then you look behind you twice!
Here is when your son - who has grown to be a man without you noticing - approaches to convey the memory and the dream that had killed your back.
Maybe, my friend, it will seem complicated in the beginning, but it’s obvious: You’re ”there” because ”here” is seedy, and maybe your absence will last longer than two days, but you’re not in a trip to seek a new identity, and you’ll never think about providing an electricity line to tent.
This is our mistake, when we said: The tent is too small and we need two extra tents!
Listen to me, I have a 63 years more experience in this ”job” than you: Don’t take pictures with Goodwill Ambassadors, don’t complain about how hot it is, or that the loaves of bread have pebbles to them.
And be careful not to ask for a better tent, as there is no tent better than another.
Original by Ibrahim Jaber Ibrahim
Translated by Menna Alaa