“How is it like to be a middle-eastern?” I’ve been asked this question since the very first time I traveled out of middle-east and I have always responded with a very vague short answer. If you want to give a really good answer to this question, a 5 or 10-minute short talk is never going to be enough. Neither will be a single short passage. Maybe a book with multiple chapters could do, or a series of blog posts. In this story, I am going to point out a very tiny and non-crucial aspect of being a middle-eastern, bear with me ‘till the end.
I was 6 or 7; I just remember that I was a first-grader when the US invaded Iraq. Too many people around the world that might have been just a single piece of news heard and forgotten among the massive amount of news that agencies announce daily. Some might think it was just middle-east being as it always has been for a long while: “war”, “killing” and “unsafe”. But for us who were actually living in middle-east, that could be the start of an unforeseeable disaster. It happened to plant the feeling of insecurity in the deepest invisible layers of our unconscious if it had not been growing there for a very long time.
I used to see and hear about the war from our national TV every day and multiple times per day. For a 6–7-year-old child watching scenes of a newly started war in a neighboring country was not pleasant and neither bearable. I kept arising this question in my mind: “Are they going to invade us too? Will I be crying just like that young kid who has just lost her whole family and now is just staring at the camera for the reporters to shoot her image? Am I going to lose my parents? Will I also have to leave my home and town and become homeless?”. Knowing how close Iraq was to us and the fact that my country had just got out of an 8-year long war with thousands of people being killed and thousands losing their families, homes, cities and all that mattered to them, the fear of losing my parents and home never seemed unreal. I kept asking my parents about the war and I repeated this question again again: “Is the US going to invade us too?” The answer was always no but I never believed it. They tried giving me reasons but I was a stubborn kid and would never be satisfied easily when I had a question in mind. Also, they thought I am just a kid so there is no need to explain everything for me and I should be justified with simple made-up reasons.
I did not notice it then but that was the start of an era for me: “The Era of war nightmares”. I started having nightmares about the war. In most of those nightmares It was just a normal day and I was just chilling at home when suddenly I would hear terrifying sounds from the street and when I would look out of the window I saw tanks, guns or planes killing people and destroying nearby houses. In these nightmares, windows were always the scariest part of a house because the signs of war were always revealed through them. I did not notice why I am having these nightmares until recently and I kept having the same type of nightmares for such a long time. About 2 years ago the nightmares were driving me crazy, I was just sooooo tired of having the repetitive nightmares and I just wanted to get rid of them. I walked so deep through my memories to find out when and how they started. The conclusion was not promising, I realized the root of these nightmares lies in my unconsciousness and the never-ending fear of war and being invaded by the US or other powerful countries. There is no way to get away from this fear when considering the facts and events of middle-east you realize that is not such an unjustified fear. I have seen and lived with Afghan people and kids, I have heard their loss stories caused by the invasion of the US. Things have not got better as I grew up but they just keep getting worse. Now I can also refer to ISIS, innocent people of Yemen and Syria.
These recent days I am still having the same nightmares. Now, these nightmares are just a sign for me showing that I am going through a stressful time in my daily life due to any known or unknown reason. I know the fear and the nightmares, no matter how bothering they are, are just so unimportant compared to the problems that people are facing in many other parts of the middle-east so I am not complaining. All I want to say is: “no innocent young kid deserves to feel fear in their daily life. No child should feel they may be just one step away from losing all that matters to them. Middle-eastern children are no different from the kids in the other parts of the world, they deserve peaceful lives as any other kid.”