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The girl who cried bitterly at Damascus airport, before laughing through her tears

The girl who cried bitterly at Damascus airport, before laughing through her tears

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Opinion Arab Migrants

Saturday 29 June 202406:02 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

عن التي بَكَت بحرقة في مطار دمشق... ثم ضحكَتْ قبل العاشرة بخمس دقائق


"You can't leave on the scheduled flight without an exit visa."

At first, I didn't grasp what the airport security officer in front of me was saying. I had just solved the issue of excess baggage with the help of my friend who drove me to the airport and lent me the remaining amount needed in Syrian currency. I had reached the final stage of getting my passport stamped when the responsible officer asked for an exit visa. I told him I didn't have one and that no one had informed me I needed an exit visa.


A stupid mistake

Under the shock, as is usual in such circumstances, I began to cry. Within seconds, I turned into a little girl with tears pouring down her face uncontrollably, not paying attention to the officer in front of me who seemed surprised by the generosity of the sky in my eyes. A child who didn't want milk or toys, who just wanted her tears to somehow help her in that moment.

"You can't leave on the scheduled flight without an exit visa." At first, I didn't grasp what the airport security officer in front of me was saying. I began crying, turning into a little girl with tears pouring down her face uncontrollably. The image in my mind was of me returning from the airport, dragging that suitcase packed with belongings that anyone who opened it would know belonged to a Syrian girl

I felt weak, confused, and scared. The only image in my mind was of returning from the airport, dragging that suitcase packed with belongings that anyone who opened it would know belonged to a Syrian girl. They would understand, upon seeing its contents, the extent of the anxiety she hid before handing over the key to her house in Damascus and closing the door, before heading to the airport.

This Syrian girl had taken everything with her to avoid having to buy anything after arriving in a new country. The only thing she had forgotten was the three-headed plug and power adapter her friend had advised her to grab on her way out as a final stop before traveling – and I, of course, forgot to grab it.

"Do you know what it means if I don't leave today?" I asked the officer sitting behind his desk, still in tears. “Yes, I know,” he replied. The officer seemed sympathetic, but he couldn't do anything for me, and had to enforce the law.

"Do you know what it means if I don't leave today?" I asked the officer sitting behind his desk, still in tears.

“Yes, I know,” he replied.

The officer seemed sympathetic, but he couldn't do anything for me, and had to enforce the law.


Mr. Officer...

So, I won't be flying today then, I thought. How would I tell my mother and father? I had been working silently for months for this moment. And now, just two hours before the flight, I discovered that I had made a mistake – a stupid mistake, to say the least – a mistake that could be easily fixed by delaying the flight for two days until I got the visa from my workplace. This is what the officer tried to make me understand in his attempt to reassure me, explaining that it was a simple issue and not worth the tears and drama.

So, I won't be flying today then, I thought. How would I tell my mother and father? I had been working silently for months for this moment.

I am not exaggerating, Mr officer. To you, it's just a matter of 24 hours, but for me, it's entirely different. It's bigger and more important than those few hours. It's tied to years of waiting for this specific day, the 28th of May.

Tomorrow or the day after, the trip will surely go smoothly. The exit visa will be in my pocket, and I'll have memorized the arrival procedures, the check-ins, the inspections, the weighing, and the gate numbers. All I'll have to do is wait to board the plane. But it will be a day devoid of any emotions or feelings. I'm not asking you to be impressed by what I'm saying; I'm just asking you to understand me.

Ever since I booked today’s flight, I have been keeping my parents' prayers in my heart. These prayers told me that I would travel today, on the scheduled flight, even though everything now suggests I won't even see the plane's gate. These prayers are why I embarked on this journey with a modest amount of money – an amount only a crazy person would consider adequate, as one of my friends put it – without feeling anxious or afraid of the unknown for a moment.

I will not tell you everything, officer. The story is long, and its details won't interest you. I was born in Syria and, like many others, I was tied to this geographical spot and drawn to it in a strange, even sick and exhausting way. But today, I am no longer bound. It seems the rope has slackened, and I have uprooted the stakes holding it down

What unknown could be harsher than the unknown I was in? A place where I had no chance of moving one step forward? A place where my brother does not even know my address, despite living in the same city. Could the alienation or the unknown of a new place be harsher than this stark and painful reality? I don't think so. I have heard many stories about the harshness of living far from home and being alone, but all of that had already happened to me in my own country.

I will not tell you everything, officer. The story is long, and its details won't benefit or interest you. The important thing is that I was born in Syria and, like many others, I was tied to this geographical spot and drawn to it in a strange, even sick and exhausting way. But today, I am no longer bound. It seems the rope has slackened, and I have uprooted the stakes holding it down. Now, I only think about planting these stakes somewhere else, where I am headed now.


Just before ten o'clock

From 8 PM until 9:45 PM, communications between my workplace administration and the airport security officials did not stop, although to no avail. Just five minutes before ten o’clock, my tears had dried, my anxiety had calmed, and my friend was close to convincing me to return and postpone the flight. Then the call came, bringing relief. "Quickly, head to the gate; it’s about to close," they yelled. "Where is the passenger? What were you doing? Why the delay?"

Just five minutes before ten o’clock, my tears had dried, my anxiety had calmed, and my friend was close to convincing me to return and postpone the flight. Then the call came, bringing relief. "Quickly, head to the gate; it’s about to close!”

Please, there is no time to explain. I started running, laughing and crying simultaneously. I passed through the gate and boarded the plane. No one needed to guide me to my seat; all the seats were occupied except mine, and everyone stared at me in astonishment. I threw my belongings down, sat, made a final call to my sister to tell her I was about to take off, fastened my seatbelt, leaned back, closed my eyes, and breathed.

The next day, my sister sent me a voice message, crying, telling me she had called me seconds after I had tried to call her, but my number was already out of coverage. She told me how difficult and painful that moment was for her. Indeed, it is a difficult, harsh, and painful feeling. But unfortunately, it has become one of our biggest dreams as Syrians to become outside coverage – specifically, outside the coverage of our homeland.



* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22



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