I’ve just had a dream.
A dream where I was a woman who had battled against odds.
I had a dream that I had escaped from an awful war torn country. A country riddled with all of the side effects of war. A country that is full of murder, starvation, exploitation, rape. A country where survival takes every ounce of energy, every piece of resilience you can muster up just to make it from day to day, and not everyone has enough, but if you do have enough then you also need so much luck that you are burdened with a sense of defeat before even beginning.
But in this dream I did survive.
By a mixture of endurance and passion, of perseverance and intelligence, and so much ‘good fortune’ I escaped, with my baby held firmly in my arms. And I made it to somewhere where the streets were not being threatened with bombs or terror, and the people were not desperate or heavily armed. Where people had all that they needed to survive, and then some. I needed somewhere to stay and all of these people who have so much looked at me with broken stares. Some looked fearful, some looked kind, and many of them looked at me as though it had been me. As though I had destroyed my home land and single handedly slaughtered the people that had flourished in the country that I loved.
Did they not understand? Did they not see that I didn’t do it. I was not going to take their safe place from them, I only wanted refuge. A place to hide.
The journey is long but eventually I come to a house. A large house, filled with many, many rooms. I enter and I’m thrown into a whirl-wind of questions. They give me food – if I were in my home where I could have the privilege of my own beliefs I would turn this food away. But I am not in my home, and I do not have privilege and I am so hungry that I eat the stomach curdling soup that is put before me. They take my child from me, but tell me he will come back. They strip me down till I am bare, I am at these people’s mercy and as though I’ve finally guessed their magic word they give me back my son and they guide me to a room.
This room is full of bunk beds. Four to a dorm. The man on the bunk opposite me is there to keep an eye on us. I have skin that is thicker than he can pierce by now, although he tries. Then I look out the window. I see a young man that I knew from childhood. He was the younger brother of some boys I grew up closely with and I’d always felt a duty to protect him as though he was my own younger brother. He’s being denied entry. They are sending him away. I watch as he pleads and I cannot let them send him back there. I throw him my key so that he can get in and have shelter.
Security comes to check our keys. And there is one missing from the room. I lie. I say that it is just missing, that it will be found. The security woman pretends that she agrees with this. She turns and another from the room tries to tell her that it will appear, but she has stopped listening and is walking out the door. Another figure appears at the door and holds the key high. She announces that she has found the key. The security woman looks at me. Her stare is cold and my spine pulls taught with fear.
She is gone, so now I walk out into the corridor hoping for somewhere to hide. Tall faceless figures appear all around me. Music starts to play as I turn from each man to the next, desperately running, each figure tells me why they will not help. My panting is the only thing covering the sound of the music, but I want desperately for the music to stop. Someone takes my baby, I plead to him to return my child, he turns away. Figures start to grab at me. They are trying to send me back to the war. They don’t care. They want me to be terrorized. I dodge and weave my way through the many, many hands. They figures are now so tall that I cannot see the sky through their daunting silhouettes. I escape their grasp.
I find a door.
I close myself inside it. They begin to knock down the door.
They’re going to send me back.
I cannot go back.
I will not go back.
I climb through a window. I am outside. The music is deafening. A child’s voice. Repeating the names of countries. Singing ‘it’s too hard and not my problem’.
Not their problem.
No ones problem.
I find a small hole that leads under a house and push myself in.
It’s pitch dark.
I can feel eyes watching me.
I can hear hands coming for me.
But this is it.
This is the closest to sanctuary, to peace, that I will ever find.
I tuck my knees up to my chest. I inhale dusty, dirty air. And I give up.
And then I wake up. The music is still playing and for a moment my arm feels too heavy to lift, and my eyes too lifeless to turn. But my arm does move and my eyes do see. And I find my son still held close to my chest, and my partner at no further than arms length.
And the music is still playing,
And I am safe.
That strong woman who battled for such a long time. Who was torn apart over and over again until there was no reason to carry on.
And she likely never will be.
She was born into the wrong country. She was born somewhere where war was going to happen. And that’s her fault.
The whole world seems to agree that it’s too hard and not their problem.