How would you like me to begin? Madame, you asked me about where we used to call home and when we told you it no longer exists, it is now constantly shifting, you acted as though we splashed water from the sidewalk against your freshly washed jeans.
If our answers about what we tasted, saw, and knew do not satisfy you then maybe we are not the right people to help you quench your curiosity. Go to the officers, they’re always armed with unfading patriotism, enough bullets to satisfy you with wrong answers.
Though we refused to let your camera lens carry any memories of us, we thought about you today while taking a walk. We thought about what we could have told you in response to your questions about home if you had asked us today—what did having your whole life and family snatched from you feel like, what did leaving home feel like? This is your question.
Leaving my homeland felt like leaving my mother’s belly, we knew we would never be able to go back there—Not in this lifetime at least. Crossing borders while lingering for some final scent of regret felt like fresh breath, a painful cry, my lungs now strained, our eyes hurt from squinting to see what this new world held for weeks. We always knew that the killings, arrests, and civil unrest would increase. That the day to die or be refused death would come. But no one prepares you for the violence of being born again. No one prepares you for such urgent displacement, not even family members’ suicide notes or hearty sympathetics from strangers like you. This is your answer.
You imagine the meaning of what we are suggesting when we say home is no longer a physical location for us. How can it be? We can try to make home out of places, yes, but that is all we can do—try. Home then has become our body. This human body which is remarkably uncomfortable and discomforted, yes, this human body we have learned to settle restlessly in peace. Having my whole life and family snatched from me still feels like bones, blood, flesh, unborn children, fading memories, blistered feet, aches, a burning chest. It feels like being in my body and refusing to die. Having everything snatched and erased from existence overnight feels like staying alive, a long-suffering struggle.
We mourn the dead when we should mourn those of us who survived them instead
first publishedin ISSUE 2: UNAPOLOGETIC of Coexist Magazine.