A letter to … my parents, for whose safety I am fearful

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‘I’m good. It’s going great.” This is what I tell you every time I talk to you because I know you need to hear some good news. I’m talking joyfully about my new life, on the computer screen in front of you – it’s one of the rare moments that make you smile, because where you live everything is dark and heavy, because where you live fear, despair and anxiety reign. To keep those smiles on your faces, I’ll never let you know that I fear for your lives and I fear for my future.

I’m good. It’s going great. I love my school, my friends. Thank you for raising me as a citizen of the world; thank you for encouraging me to learn about different cultures.

I’m good. It’s going great. I always feel your support no matter how far away you are. I know you are proud of me even though I still have not achieved much in life, even though I am just a student who eats the same sandwich every day, who stares at the ceiling instead of getting started on my essay and who hates doing the laundry. But I’ve always dreamed big and you’ve always believed in me. I dreamed that one day I would be a good academic, a good writer.

“I’m good. It’s going great,” I’ll tell you next time I talk to you. I’ll continue with a happy voice: “Yesterday, I went to a pub after long hours of studying. It felt nice. Oh, remember I told you I was going to cook for some friends. Well, I did and they really enjoyed our food.” You will smile. Maybe then, I’ll complain about the heavy workload. But that will be it. I will never let you know that I fear for your lives and I fear for my future.

I will never talk about my fear of losing you because if I do, your smiles will disappear and an uncomfortable silence will prevail. Mom will later break the silence and say: “Well, it can happen any time anywhere.” But it will not be convincing for any of us. There are not many places where bombs explode this often, where people go straight home after work, avoid crowds, rush to the market and change direction when they see a minivan coming.

I’m not good because I fear for your lives. People get death threats on the streets and I hope it will never be your turn. I fear for your lives because the government has no shame using brutal force and you will never be safe so long as you remain its opponents. I am not good because I fear for my future. I thought I belonged to the world, but now I realise that I do not belong anywhere. Everywhere I go is hostile to me; everywhere I go, people want me out. I am not good because it is exhausting to stay strong. Even when I genuinely smile and laugh, my heart never stops aching. I cry walking home, I cry at night. I am not good because I do not know what to do and where to go next. I am floating in the air without anything to hold on to.

I’m in pain. I fear for your lives and I fear for my future. But I’ll say, “I’m good. It’s going great,” next time I talk to you. After giving you some good news, I will get close to you, as much as I can, to send you a big kiss. My nose will cover the screen. You will smile.

 

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