Today my thoughts are wandering; trailing through unfamiliar places, picking up different incidents, new faces, and observing them carefully. I look around in my mind’s eye: it is like stepping onto a fair ground, everywhere life forces wanting to get out, people moving in all directions, expressing their fear, anger, sadness and hopelessness. I am feeling myself enveloped in everything that they are going through. I pull out my blue note pad from the table to write.
“Mom! Please! Can I take my teddy, my story book and our puppy?’’ The three years old girl in a lilac dress with white ruffles stands close to her mom holding tightly to her yellow teddy bear and the story book in one hand and the leash of the small puppy in the other. She swipes her hairs from her forehead and lifts her eyes up towards her mother for an answer.
Her mother bends down and gently takes away the big teddy and the puppy from her daughter’s hand and says, “I am sorry Saben. We cannot take them with us. It is a very long road and the puppy will get tired but you can take your pretty purple rubber ball and one small pony with you.” Then her mother opens the lid of the toy box and pulls out a ball and a tiny pony with sparkles on all over its body and soft long yellow hair and hands them to Saben.“Keep these it your pocket and let’s hurry we need to leave.”
“Mom, can I go, say good bye to my friend and ask if she can keep our puppy until we return from our travel?” Asks Saben.
“No Saben. We don’t have time.”
Saben hugs her puppy and gently kisses on his furry head.Both the mother and daughter leave the house holding two bags just like the others from their town; young, old and infants. The battle ground shifts daily. First their houses were ransacked but they stayed.Then the Islamic state arrived and threatened and terrorized.They have to leave the attacks, the violence and move their family to safety. They walk through endless strings of villalges. People stand in the long line for three days to board a boat to head to the island of Lesbos. Saben is tired of standing in one place. She walks slowly; her head slightly bend towards one shoulder and both her hands dangling down. Saben leans closer to her mother and looks around. There are so many children like her; some are standing, some are sitting on the grass and playing with each other and most of the adults look very serious and grumpy. Saben wants to go back to her home and play with her puppy or share cookies with both her puppy and her best friend. She laces her fingers together in front of her and then taps her chin in one finger. She realizes that she has not seen her friend or her parents from last week. ‘Where are they?’ Seben whispers. It is almost night but they are still standing in the line. Saben doesn’t want to play any more with the littler pony.
Finally they step into the boat. There are so many people and it is hard to sit. Saben hears the crying of the infants and the sighs of the elders. She leans her head against her mom’s hand and closes her eyes. Another three days wait to take the ship to Athens. Saben does not understand this type of travel which does not involve any fun activity, but it is more like torture to sit or stand in one place. The early morning is full of sunlight and hope. Her mother opens a brown bag, pulls out a small plastic bag and hands over the last one cracker to Saben. Saben looks at her mom’s empty hand with surprise and asks, “Where’s yours? Are you not hungry? Saben breaks the cracker to half and hands one half to her mother and says “Dad used to say that sharing is always good.” Saben’s mother tries to smile and hugs her daughter. Her eyes are blank. Her voice comes out without the rise or fall, without emphasis and without any emotion.Then she bends to the other side and slowly wipes her tears with the back of her palm.
Saben eats slowly, steadily then stops not abruptly, yet with utter completeness; her jaws still in mid chewing a cracker and turn her eyes towards the shore. She smiles and murmurs, O’ yes this must be our destination. She turns back to her mother and says breathlessly, “Mom! Look, we are here and now we can stay here for some days then go back to our home.” She lifts her face and says, “Do you know mom that I am missing my puppy and my friends. My puppy must be tired of waiting for us and I hope the neighbors are taking good care of him. How many days we have to stay here, hope not too many days. Right mom?”
Saben brushes a cloud of hair out of her eyes and waits eagerly for an answer from her mother.