Perhaps having a complex for our homeland is a chronic illness that resides within us. It's true that we have a metro here, and we wait for its light to come from the darkness every minute and a half, and that we do not become afraid if we see our mobile screen announcing that it will turn off within five minutes. Electricity here is not the same as the electricity there. We don't schedule our time around it, like the time for taking a shower, the time for charging LED lights and the battery, or turning on the electric heater. Not to mention that here, we don't sleep in the winter nights due to the high temperature inside the rooms and houses, while the temperature outside is -15 degrees. All that we carry in our pockets are bank cards, supermarket cards, metro cards, and university cards, and not just a smart card.
When we came as migrants to the land of exile a few years ago, we were shocked by the extent of the availability of the simple basics of life, and we had another type of shock over our foreign friends.
When we came as migrants to the land of exile a few years ago, we were shocked by the extent of the availability of the simple basics of life
After we told them how we searched for earthquake victims using mobile flashlights due to the lack of electricity and how the ambulances suffered from the lack of fuel needed to rescue those who were stuck under the rubble, we are now afraid of saying: "We want to go back to Syria," because as soon as the idea crosses our minds, we'd begin getting judgments from within us before anyone else, "Do we really want to return? What is this stupidity? Thousands dream of the opportunity to live outside the borders of the country whose map has changed during an 11-year war that is still ongoing."
The feeling of suffocation eases in Damascus
"I'm always being criticized," says Lea, 30, a Syrian student who graduated from a Russian university, adding, "They panic at the mere suggestion of returning to Damascus after I finish my studies, especially my fiancé, who responds with, 'How can you even think like that?' But I don't have a problem with it. Honestly, I feel more comfortable in Syria. Living far from home in exile is hard even if all the basic necessities are available here. There is nothing like my home and my bed back in Damascus, and being next to my family and friends, in the place where I was born and raised."
"Living far from home is hard even if all the basic necessities are available here. There's nothing like my home and bed back in Damascus, next to my family and friends, in the place where I was born and raised" – Lea, 30, a Syrian student living abroad
Hope is what the thirty-something woman builds her wish upon, even though many have lost theirs under the rubble of their memories. Lea's desire to return to her homeland to establish her own business is a dream in a city of darkness and its cold rooms that contain piles up blankets and covers. Lea says, "Maybe in ten years or more, the situation around us will improve, and I'll speak out about it. I want to grow up in my country, despite the lack of the lowest living standards. Adapting is what helps us be patient with what our cities are going through."
Applause for our accomplishments
This "crazy idea" also crosses Hammam's mind from time to time. The 31-year-old works in Europe in a field of work he loves, but nostalgia for many little things accompanies him during his conversations with his foreign friends. He says, "Sometimes I express my desire to return and tell my foreign friends a lot about our culture, traditions, and the activities we used to do with our loved ones, and how much I used to enjoy these details. I love them and long for them."
Hammam ignores the accusations against him when he speaks of his wishes: "Don't you dare! No one ever thinks of going back!" He shares this desire with his close family and friends, because of whom he wants to return, adding, "I felt the true value of the ones I loved the most when I left my homeland to live in foreign land. I always remember the constant appreciation and encouragement for the achievements I made back home. There is a great pleasure in this kind of support that I miss so much in exile, but in the end, if it weren't for the adverse circumstances of my work and life, I wouldn't have made the decision to travel."
"To travel and then return" equals failure
"I dread telling them about the idea of returning home," Karam, a 27-year-old Moscow graduate, describes the fear that accompanies him of being branded a "failure", a word that some people associate with Syrians who have traveled and returned. He explains, "I strive to accomplish everything I planned to do in Russia, to avoid those rumors."
"If I return, I will feel a greater sense of psychological comfort and stability, but I know that developing in any field is limited in Syria" – Karam, a Syrian residing in Russia
It is not only these judgments that Karam avoids, but also the frustration he feels from those who oppose his desire to return. He says, "There are people who make you feel depressed and try to destroy your hopes when you plan to return, and the world seems to darken before your eyes, especially if the person returning has the idea of starting a business project. They make us feel completely hopeless and full of disappointment when it comes to achieving anything in our country."
Adapting to the conditions in Syria is also the way that the young man would like to rely on, especially after Syrians have been able to find alternative solutions to help them in their lives. Karam adds, "I know what it means to have no electricity and internet, and yet I did more work and accomplished more back home than I have in Russia, and this feeling gives me a sense of comfort and peace of mind, especially when I achieve something I love. I know how to deal with people in my country and what they think."
However, Karam ended with the words, "It is true that if I return, I will feel a greater sense of psychological comfort and stability, but I know that developing in any field is limited in Syria, especially with regard to life stability, such as buying a house or car, which is impossible to achieve there under these worsening conditions."
I think: "Maybe the decision to go back home is foolish and a thousand people wish they're in my place", only to be immediately confronted with the idea: "But living abroad is hard, and what's the point of life when we're away from the ones we love?"
"Frankly, we are not many"
When writing the article, I searched for people who are similar to me and share the same desire, as there are people who haven't dared to admit it out loud in fear of the responses that might make them think twice or maybe a million times, "Maybe the decision to go back home is foolish and what I currently have, many others do not, and a thousand people wish they were in my place", only to be immediately confronted with the idea: "But living abroad is really hard, and what's the point of life when we're away from the ones we love?"
Someone answered me, "Do not look for these people, as we are very few," but are we really not many? I ask you not to judge us. Maybe the idea is irrational, but "nostalgia and homesickness is doing a lot to us."