Friday, October 13, 2006

Chapters from an immigrant's life, Part VI…Recharging the soul

Ok…This won’t be easy on me to talk about…but it’s a very important 2 months in my whole life. Sometime middle of july, I went through the gates of Cleveland airport, for a flight to amman Jordan. I was flying northwest flight from Cleveland to Detroit, and then connecting on KLM toward Amsterdam and finally amman. I got to Amsterdam, and I had to wait for 4 hours there. It was ok. I walked around. But I wasn’t behaving like someone who is going to see family for the first time in 8 years. Once I got close to amman, and saw the shores of Palestine, then quickly my legs were shaking. What am I going to say..what an I going to do? I had no clue. I just wanted to be home.

Got to amman..walked toward a smoking section, and sat down thinking of how am I going to react in this moment. I have never been in such situation before. Gather ur self my friend, you are a man, with a pride, and a strong apology that you have to show and express toward your family.

As I was sitting down, a guy approached me..saying my name. I said yes…He said what the hell are you doing here while your family are waiting outside? It was my brother in law whom I meet for the first time in my life. He told me to relax cause looked pretty bad. I begged him for few more minutes, so he sat down with me smoking and talking. “don’t be scared…whatever you do or did in your life will never affect the smile and happiness on your mom’s face right now so eager to see you, so get up and lets go” “I can’t..not yet” I said. “ok//I’ll give you 5 minutes, or else your mom will get a heart attack thinking that you are stuck in the security and intelligence office, come on lets go, they know I’m looking for you here”.

Ok gather your strength my friend…get up..and let the day go by. I got up, straightened myself, fixed my tie and shirt, and walked straight to the waiting area. I walked through…..I could see some faces. I looked and looked…then I saw my dad on the right hand side. He had a smile that I have never seen on his face before. But where is mom? I asked my brother in law who was walking beside me “don’t worry, she is home and I just called her”. It was only dad and my brother in law. To be honest with you, I was scared and felt that they were going to take me to the desert and kill me there to wash their honor. I’s silly, but I was so confused and disoriented, yet happy. Dad hugged me so strong and kissed me, and I quickly overcame my fears.

In the car, I was seeing amman. Now, I can relate to home. This is home. This is what was missing from me…the feeling of belonging. I have never had this feeling before. These are my people, and I’m their son. Dad didn’t say a word, but the smile on his face was so magical. I didn’t either. It was a long silent 25 minutes drive. I asked my dad to park away a little as I wanted to surprise my sisters and brothers. The car stopped on the side of this house, which is new. This wasn’t the home I was raised in. Now, all my fears are gone. I walked to the door. I saw this teenage girl. I approached her. She panicked. She took a step back. Scared, she was really scared. I took a step forward, and she screamed for mom that there is a thief trying to kidnap her. I laughed with a couple of tears on my eyes “no you silly, this is me, your brother”. She started crying as if someone hit her, and hugged me after she saw my dad and brother in law approaching with suitcases.

I have never felt such happiness like now. We walked inside the house and mom is crying waiting for me approach her. I couldn’t wait till I reach her warm chest to finally hug me and give me what I was so eager for all those years. She never let go of me, and I didn’t either. Suddenly, voices are yelling at mom asking her to let go so they can have their share of the action.

We sat outside on a porch, drinking tea. Younger sister is missing. I asked about her, and they told me that she went with her cousin, and she’ll be home soon. It’s almost 7 pm now, and she is not here yet. Then those two girls approached us. The first one came to me running, and I said “this gotta be my sister”. Isn’t it a shame that anyone could forget a face of a brother or a sister? I hugged her and kissed her. Then I looked at the people around me and all were shocked and smiling. My mom was pointing her finger at the other one saying “this is the one you need to hug dummy”. Sure I was embarrassed, but didn’t care, so I grabbed my sister and hugged her.

Every time I look at someone’s face or eyes, they are all starring at me. Sometimes with few tears, and sometimes with a big smile. Then dinner’s time..and behold, it was mansaf. I knew for I could smell it from a distance. The last time I had mansaf was 9 years before that day. I am home now, and that’s what counted then. Faces I’ve never seen before. Relatives I never knew existed before. It was a huge gathering.

I was able to sneak out after the mansaf, to a fig tree in our house, and smoke a cigarette. Both my sisters came to me. The older one (17 years old) was a smoker too. I felt strange handing my sister a cigarette. I wanted to say so much. They too. But it’s still a shocker to all of us. They just wanted to be so close to me. Maybe fearing that I would disappear again for another 8 years. I wanted to cry so hard and so much, but couldn’t, with all these people around me. I wanted to be alone with my mother, and lean my head on her legs, just like old days, and just lay there for hours, and cry all those tears that were kept inside me for 8 long years. But I couldn’t…they are all here.

We ate and had fun, then all went home, except my cousin. The one I hugged by accident. My parents slept, and now, it was me, my 2 sisters, and my cousin. They were asking questions about America, and life there. Then I found out that my uncle died of cancer 3 years ago, and this is his daughter. Maybe that’s why she is closer to my parents, for she is considered their daughter, and kind of adopted her in a way. She was 16 years old. I was saddened by that, for my dad loved this uncle so dearly.

Then all slept, and I had to sleep. It was about 1 am. At 4 am, I was up again. I went to the kitchen to make me Arabic coffee, but without success. I didn’t know where everything is. Then my older sister, the 17 years old, woke up, and she made the coffee for me. We both sat outside in the yard, somewhere in 6abarboor, with a magical breeze blowing. We drank coffee, and then my sister went back to bed.

Mom was up now. Finally, she and I are alone finally. Without hesitation, I started crying and weeping like a baby and got close to her, and just rested my head on her legs and cried…and cried with no words. I wanted to relief myself from all that pressure, and I did.

I went back to bed after that, and relaxed my soul, and heart. I never slept that good like today. I slept…and slept…and really slept. I was awakened by a sweet touch on my face, and it was my mother telling me to get up, it’s almost 5 pm.

I got up..and again, the house was full of people. That’s ok…I’m in Jordan for a long time, and there will be some time that I can dictate who to see and where to go. I know, I still didn’t manage to get rid of my arrogance. So I walked outside to the family room, and sat down on one of the couches. My little sister…I mean youngest sister for she is no little anymore, came and sat next to me with a toy in her hand. It was an old teddy bear, very old. She asked “do you remember this?” Why don’t these people leave me alone, all this torture is killing me? Of course I remember it. It was the teddy bear that I bought her on her 7th birthday, just before I left to the states. I looked at her, and smiled, and said “how can I ever forget it”. That made my day, and it sure made her day. My brothers are back now from the aqaba trip. Business they say, but I’m sure they were up to something there. They looked similar to how I left them.

I wanted to walk..just walk anywhere. So I asked my brother if he could drop me somewhere in amman city center. I just wanted to be in the street to see what home look like. So all wanted to walk with me but I kindly declined their company and promised that we’ll do this another time, but for now, I lied and said that I have to deliver some money to someone and he’s meeting me in the city center. I promised to be home by 8 pm. I asked how to get a cab, and what to tell him.

I walked for about an hour in the city center. Just walking. Looking at people. I smelled falafel, and bought some. I didn’t know the place but later it became famous, and yes it was hashem’s restaurant. Then got a cab and asked him to drop me home. I got home, and everyone was excited to see me back. They were worried that I may get lost. They don’t know that I was lost, but now I found me, finally. After dinner, I got my certificate of the degree, and few letters from the dean’s office and the governor’s office where I was getting over the 4 years for my gpa average. I then got my graduation project. I showed to dad and mom for now I wanted to see the smiles on their face. They didn’t know that I graduated yet, and they were still thinking that I’m still away from school. Mom started “zaghroota” with tears, and dad got out his old gun, and started shooting in the air. The neighbors came rushing, as usual, and they were told that these were bullets of joy. The degree never made me happy, but it sure made them happy, and that was more enough to make me finally feel the joy of their joy. I promised mom and dad that another degree will be sent to Jordan in 2 years.

Those moments were my recharging moments. The moment where I finally snapped out of my deep sleep, and made me look straight ahead. I am now having a revived dreams and ambitions. I now feel that I’m ready to pursue life, and get married. I want to be a husband to some woman out there. It’s the feeling of responsibility that I was probably missing the most. I am now recharged. Two months are long, very long, and I wish to talk more about them. I now need to gather my strength, and head back to America to pursue my life. I promised to go back home in 2 years at the most, and I kept my promises.

To be continued..


Summer said...

Very touching!! I love how you talked about the meeting with your parents and your siblings, good byes and coming home from a long trip always make me cry...
i was in tears..oh no, i was sobbing reading through!! honestly!
This is very touching, i can only imagine how your Mom and Dad felt!!
I am glad you went back home, there is a light at the end of the tunnel...Good son! Allah yerda 3alaik!

Bo3Bo3 said...


Thanks for reading and commentng. I am trying to describe as much as possible in details to insert some visual to the words. I guess I am so much affected by those 2 months that i feel strong describing them over and over.

Summer said...

when is the next part coming in?? waiting is not that easy you know!

Bo3Bo3 said...

loool sooon summer soon

Luai said...

Man....I just love this writing...straight from the heart. I have been following the many parts and have been eagerly awaiting the next installment :-)

Unfortunately, many who come to the US to "study" find they are unable to return for many years after or at all. Those who find themselves in those positions, find their families with open arms welcoming them back home unconditionally...I can only imagine the fears you had on the plane ride over.

The love of family and the connection we share with them are truly amazing.

I am glad everything worked out of for you. And you have established the closeness you were seeking with your family.

May favorite line was: "They don’t know that I was lost, but now I found me, finally."

Here's to wishing you much more success and many happy times.