لاجئ

By: Sanaria

 

A social worker walks into a refugee family’s life,

She uses words like “trauma” and “sacrifice” without understanding their depth

She asks them what they did for a living, reminds them to keep their dreams small and contained

Like the belongings they were forced to keep small and contained enough to carry on a whim

The father was a musician

He (forcefully) sacrificed his life for his country

When a bomb fell in his trench, the empty space where his right leg used to be became a constant reminder of that sacrifice

Of that tadhia

Of a forced patriotism

His country rendered him amputee

Then refugee

 

The mother was forced to leave her entire family behind

Daily dinners turned into tear-filled long distance phone calls

But she brought her trauma, her sadma, with her

Waking up in a panic, mistaking a thunderstorm for bombings

Mistaking nature for war

This is when she felt at home

 

Their daughters knew they are not meant to be here

That the bomb was inches from taking their father’s life, rendering them unborn

That they were not meant to cross an ocean, to escape the land that birthed them

A land they only knew through their mother’s nightmares and their father’s lyrics

Through words too graceful for the colonial language

“Lift your head up high, you are Iraqi”

The social worker tells them they will be leaving the reception centre soon

That applying for social assistance will help them “get back on their feet”

She does not tell them that they may need to shred parts of their cultural identity just to keep up with the pace of this new life

She does not tell them that they are not done running

That the race has just begun

She does not say, “welcome to neoliberal Western democracy”

She does not say, “the myth of meritocracy lives here”

She does not say, “you will be scapegoated for our housing crisis”

 

Instead, she hands them an application, gives them a warm smile, and asks them if she can offer them anything to drink

As if being forcefully displaced wasn’t already hard to swallow

           



Sanaria is currently completing her Master’s of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Toronto. She works with the Rights for Children and Youth Partnership (RCYP) project’s sister project, Journey Home: Refugee and Settlement Integration, as a placement student.

 

 

 


The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Rights for Children and Youth Partnership project, Ryerson University, or our other partners


 



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