I opened the same cupboard, the same one I open every day many times with the same laziness, and without a specific purpose, just as you open the fridge without being hungry.
But this time it had a different impact on me, I felt like I was opening it for the last time and hearing the sound of its key and the squeaking of its wood also for the last time.
The air was heavy inside it, my heart beat so fast and I was feeling it beating all over my body.
What a door I opened, a door that summarizes all my life. 25 years of memories, childhood, adolescence and rebellion… A mountain of clothes you imagine falling over you at any moment.
It is a simple cupboard with two drawers filled with papers, notebooks and pens… lots of pens.
Don’t ask me why, I don’t know why I collect pens!
On the top shelf there are carefully folded clothes and my favorite green spring jacket. Below, under the drawers there are some books that have no place in my small library.
For a moment, I ignored everything and opened the first staircase, which I have always kept locked.
On the corner was a message, I have found it hiding in my school bag sent by an unknown prince on Valentine’s Day. I was then 11 years old, and I remember that this message was enough to make that child sleep with a smile on the face that night.
In the other corner of the staircase was a pack of cigarettes with two cigarettes inside, stolen from my mother, I was secretly smoking then.
There also was the key to our house with a heart shaped key chain that my friend, who married a year ago and traveled to Sweden, gave me.
I remember thinking that day, “Will I ever use those keys again?”.
At that same moment my mother opened the door and asked me if I had finished packing the bag.
But I hadn’t started yet.
She, too, was confused and did not know what to do just like me.
To break the silence between us, she asked: “Are you done?”
What should I answer?
I told her cheerfully that I was about to finish. I had no other answer. Any longer dialogue between us at the time was enough to open a longer discussion and end in tears.
My mother walked out and shut the door behind her. I immediately took two or three pieces of clothes in haste. Without thinking, it didn’t matter anymore.
What is important is our unknown way in the coming days.
I left everything behind, I closed the stairs and the closet door and turned my back.
This is no longer mine and no longer important, in a few days I might be a dead body floating on the sea feeding the fish. I don’t know why, but that image wouldn’t leave my imagination at that moment, and it is true that I did not become a fish food at the time, but worse. I became a refugee.
All this is only a memory I learn from in my present, which I’m building on the remains of a human being in a European country.
I know that I will never go back to my previous life and I ask myself every time I look in the mirror.
Who is this ? And what am I seeing?
But what makes me wake up every morning to meet the same strangeness, is only the hope that one day I will be able to accept it.
Over time, no one remains a stranger.
I am writing this in the pool while enjoying the heat of the sun with a cold beer, just as I want, just as I like.
Translation from Arabic by Marwa Melhem