By Howra Salaheddin
Homes are comfortable and cozy. They’re where you can catch your breath and stay still for a while.
You can stop running when you’re home, right?
But homes are never safe.
Nobody told us it’s safe to call this land “home”. There was no map explaining the territories. No one lectured us on politics, on women and their bodies and how it’s not “really” ours, on money and corporations, on poverty, on games and advertisements. No one said anything and we assumed it’s okay to call this place ‘home’.
None of us knew what we were getting into when we were learning to bike in these streets when we threw stones and ate ice cream. When we heard sirens, no one thought it’s the police going to shoot a kid. We thought it’s safe. We thought its home.
I had no idea what home was supposed to be, I knew I loved this language, the poetry, I loved Rumi and Hafiz, I loved Shiraz and the architecture, I loved our slangs and I loved my home. But no one said the language was of bruised tongues and broken hands, no one told me the women in the poems were silenced, unimportant and useless. They didn’t really explain how being a woman was a political act, accepting it a call of war. No one said much. No one dared.
We didn’t know about the broken ones, about the ones who spoke up and got shot. We didn’t know about the young corpses, young lovers and old mothers waiting for the kids that’ll never come back. We didn’t know what’s a hijab, what was love and what was lust and what was a sin. We didn’t know about Halal and Haram and heaven and hell and how we were being punished for what poor Eve did.
We called this place home and it was. That’s all we knew.
Then I grew up and I learned a couple of things and I was frightened and I was running and hiding and crying but there was no point, this was home. This was where I belonged and where I longed to be at the end of the day.
The truth is that this is my home. Those people aren’t home. The lines on the map, the borders, the camps, the wars, the lies, the abuse of power; these things aren’t home. My home is my community, my family, my language, my poetry, and flowers. I won’t forget and I won’t forgive and I’ll never stop fighting for home. Because it’s not theirs to keep. It’s not theirs to kick us out of it. It’s our home. They can’t get our freedom, our bodies, our thoughts and on top of it, our home too. We won’t let them.
Homes aren’t safe but they’ll be. One day they’ll be homes and they’ll be havens. One day we can stop running. One day we can rest.
One day we’ll be truly at home here.