Mis Hawey Mzrab (Conversations With My Brother)
I did not imagine freedom to look a lot like this: the night sky of a Libyan desert, a truckload of men who look like my brothers, the city of Rome with no jacket, a German officer filing me into a cramped room in the deportation center. I traveled for months on end, by foot, by caravan, through Sahara, of hunger, on water, on land, on an overcrowded Mediterranean ship, all for a home that does not feel like home. I was even sold once. It is late at night, and I am using my eyes as lanterns to travel to Libya. I travel at night and sleep during the day. The poachers are less likely to find me then. I know of too many people that become dinner to the sea and compensation to human traffickers. I do not understand why I have seen my death more times than I have seen men cry, the death of others more than fingers on my hands. I am in this European city where no one speaks my language and I want to learn their tongue, I do, but no one wants to teach me. Na adina, our people were kind. There was a spirit of sacrifice in our country’s blood, despite our wars and our government. We gave up portions of our food so that everyone had something to eat. We lived because we did not know other ways, but the people in this camp here are already dead. Their spirits are missing. Their families have died trying to come to this center and you arrive, weeks without food, water only from reaching your hand down to the sea, to sit in rooms in deportation centers where white men that do not look like you, where they do not speak your language, can decide if you deserve their kind of freedom. I think about home, about my father, my brothers, the people I have left behind. I want to stay here, but maybe this is not for me. Did I risk my life for this? Miela, what is America like? Is it like deportation camps? Do they tease you with their freedom there? Will I find work without English? I am trying to learn both English and German, but both taste unfamiliar and uncomfortable, like this language does not want to sit on my tongue. Migration does not only leave many voiceless, it leaves most mute. I do not have words for this place, I just know home is not supposed to feel like this.
*after Warsan Shire