Rana Shubair

Out There

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They tell me it’s a vast world out there. That if I were to leave this place, I’d see for myself. That the lush green landscapes will stupefy me. That I can drive a car for hours on a road with mountains and waterfall overlooking. That driving itself is relieving and something one can do to relax. But only out there. 

They also say when I go out there, I’d realize that my people and I have been living in a deep dark pit all our lives. And that the darkness has weakened our eyesight and may have damaged our mental abilities. And because we’ve been attacked while trying to survive down that pit, our mental health has only deteriorated. 

They also tell me that kids out there have safe places to play. That they don’t wet their beds when a plane swooshes by. And when they wake up, it’s to the morning sounds of nature. They marvel in telling me how the skies out there are clear and safe. That their drones are the kind that takes pictures, not shoot missiles. 

They say that even the people look different. When they walk down a street, they see many people smiling. No grief contorts their features. They saunter in relaxed ways and talk about books and movies. That the air they breathe is fresh and they can drink straight from the tap water. That they don’t have to install alternative sources of energy because their electricity never goes off. That fact is the hardest for me to swallow, or to even comprehend. Does it mean they don’t have to schedule their lives around the six hours of electricity? So hard to imagine. Being locked up here really gets to your brain and imagination. 

Out there, they travel from one part of the country to the other freely. No arduous plans or registration to determine when and why they should travel. If a family member gets ill, they don’t have to apply for a medical transfer and to wait weeks for a response. It’s easy to attend a brother’s or a sister’s wedding even if it’s far away. All you need for travel is money. Unlike here, even if you have the money, you lack the means. 

They can order things and have them delivered through regular mail and it actually gets there. People here talk mostly of politics and electricity cuts. Out there, politics is for politicians only. Kids have hopes and dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers or whatever. But here their most ardent wish is to visit their own country. The country that they study about in colorless textbooks in dreary classrooms. They feel the claustrophobia of being denied travel. It’s in their drooping eyes and puzzled faces. 

They tell me I should choose between being caged up here or living in someone else’s free country. I can’t blame those who do make it out there, and would never expect them to come back to this pit. But here I have a tribe who’s persevering with me and have vowed that we stick together. That we wait for the dawn to disperse the darkness. That we light the way for each other on that path. The path to freedom. The path to liberation. 

2 Responses

  1. We may not tell you that we also live in a deeply dysfunctional society, or we will tell you that the dysfunctions are the others’ fault. Our Right and Left hands blame each other.

    I do want greater freedom for you. I do not want you to be just like us. We are falling apart.

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