"Life from Aisha’s eyes"

 

by Christina Nikolau

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Η νικήτρια του 2ου Διαγωνισμού Διηγήματος 2018 στα Αγγλικά (SHORT STORY COMPETITION) που διοργάνωσε το English Language Courses Argiris Hatzopoulos είναι η Χριστίνα Νικολάου και το διήγημά της "Life from Aisha's eyes"!


Ευχαριστούμε πολύ όλους τους συμμετέχοντες και ελπίζουμε να καταθέσουν εκ νέου τα έργα τους στον 3ο Διαγωνισμό Διηγήματος στα Αγγλικά που θα προκυρηχθεί στην άνοιξη του 2019.

Παρακάτω μπορείτε να διαβάσετε τo βραβευμένo διηγήμα:

 

 

 

18/6/17 , Damascus, Syria

 

 

Dear diary,

My name is Aisha and I’m fourteen years old. I live in Damascus with my dad Ahmed, my mom Hanaan and my little 10 year old sister, Fatima. You were my first present for my seventh birthday in 2011, and the last one since then and today I decided to communicate with you for the first time. From 2011 my family is economically burdened because of the war that broke out here in Syria. I found you yesterday in the attic, while I was looking for some clothes, and I thought it was a good idea to gain a friend like you in order to share my problems and confess my secrets. You are my only friend now. Most of my friends immigrated to Europe, while others unfortunately were victims of the bloody civil war. As a friend of mind you must know many things about my character. Personally I was a positive girl who always smiled and was excited about life, loved to play any kind of games and was ready to learn more and more things. Now many things have changed. I am a depressing person who has forgotten what joy means and I never smile. Now the only feeling that is painted in my face is sadness because of the condition my country is now. The only

positive feeling I have now is hope for a better life without war.


22/6/17 Damascus, Syria

Dear diary,

Today it was quite a good day after a long time. My father announced to us that we would have to leave Damascus as soon as possible, because the condition is said to become worse and worse in Syria, so my father thought we might be into trouble if we stayed for a long here. He assured us that our family would be safe in another country. After this conversation we had all together my mother and my father decided that the ideal place for us to relocate was Italy, as my mom spoke Italian really well, so it would be easier for as to adapt. By the time I heard we had to leave Damascus I started crying. No one was able to see how much my heart was pricking under my burka. After a lot of hours of lamentation I started contemplating that our relocation was a nice idea and maybe my residency to Italy could give me priceless experiences and help me shape my life and my vocational career. That thought conversed all my day and psychology. That thought made me laugh for the first time after a long time, actually after 7 years. The first thing I asked when I stopped crying was when we were going to leave. For a minute I thought that time stopped. That minute I sensed the teamwork atmosphere between the members of my family. Even if the condition we were in was so difficult, I felt so happy that I had my parents and sister for allies in this long journey. That moment I truly felt what family means. My family may be connected when everything is fine, but is even more united in difficulties, especially these days that we are ready to leave our country, Syria.

30/6/17  Damascus, Syria

Dear diary,

Tomorrow is the big day. Fortunately or unfortunately, we are moving to another country, Italy. We finished packing our minimum belongings this morning. The only things I‘ll bring with me are some clothes and you, of course. My family after the civil war started, lives under poverty so we won’t have many things to carry with as in our journey. The only ‘’special’’ belonging my family owns is a half -ruined house and nothing else. As I mentioned before, my family the last 7 years, lives under poverty, so my parents don’t own a vehicle. In order to go to Italy, we have to walk a lot. As you can understand my dear diary, we will go to Italy on foot. We will pass from Turkey to Greece and then to Italy. That means a lot of walking. Actually I don’t really mind fatigue, the only thing that matters now is that I am leaving my country in this situation. The only thing I want to do now is close the door of my half-ruined house and say goodbye to all this sadness I felt. The only thing I want to do now is open my wings for new experiences.

15/7/17   Aleppo, Syria

Dear diary,

We just arrived in Aleppo. At this moment we are resting to the debris of an old hotel that unfortunately was destroyed because of the war. Our journey from Damascus to Aleppo was too depressing for my childish heart. The only thing I could see was debris, victims, and in general a total disaster. I looked around carefully at people’s expressions. Some of them were crying, others seemed to be exhausted from that condition, while others had the expression of despair. My parents seemed to be desperate, too. They were looking left and right all the time in order to catch all the ‘’images’’ of the disaster. My little sister, Fatima couldn’t handle this situation so she frequently couched her psychic pain, by shedding her tears. I personally felt awful about the things that I outfaced. I had to confront the same feelings during our route as I was seeing the same and the same pictures. During all these days I saw nothing but sadness all over the country. I didn’t catch anyone with a smile on the face. My heart broke into small pieces. I let some tears fall on the ground of my country. Fortunately no one noticed my feelings. I wanted to prove to my parents that I was brave enough and I could handle this situation and be helpful for them. On the other hand, another feeling that dominated my family was fear. As we were leaving from the country we didn’t want to be spotted by the army. Fortunately we weren’t perceptible so now we are safe to continue our route tomorrow morning for Turkey. From my point of view dear diary, the least painful part of our journey was our physical fatigue. The route we had to follow was quite easy and we also stopped a lot of times in order to snack, to rest for some minutes, to have a small nap, next to destroyed buildings or even to hide from the army that was passing by. My legs were shaking from the fear but the pain I sensed bodily had nothing to do with the pain I felt for the condition Syria was in. Of course, as you understand dear diary my mental pain was much bigger than my physical. As I mentioned before me and my family are sitting on some debris of an old hotel in Aleppo in order to rest so I thought it was a good idea to share my feelings and my latest experiences with you. I forgot to tell you that I started learning some Italian and I must admit that I am really good at it and I enjoy getting into it. My mother tries to make us love our new country so she thinks that by learning as this language will make me and my sister adapted more easily to our new way of life.


22/7/17 Abana, Turkey

Dear diary,

We just arrived in Abana, in Turkey. Our route from Aleppo to Abana was something more than adventurous, actually it was really dangerous. My family and I had to cross the borders between Syria and Turkey. As we were immigrating we could only pass the borders illegally because no one had passport. As you understand the only way to achieve something like this was to avoid going from the main streets and prefer passing inside unknown roads. In order to pass the borders illegally we had to pay one hundred euros per person. My dad told us to walk really silently because in other ways we could have been perceptible from the army. My legs where shaking from fear. In the most crucial part of our route we had to crawl in order to pass by. I thought for a moment I was spotted by some soldiers who were standing in the borders so I felt like I was going to die. Fortunately all the members of the family managed to pass to Turkey alive. After touching Turkish ground we hugged all together so hard. I believe this was the happiest moment of my life. Even if the difficulties were so many my family was united, strong and ready to face them. As I mentioned before we are now in Abana. I must admit that Turkey is a beautiful country, actually is the only foreign country I have ever visited. Now we are resting for a little bit because tomorrow a long route is waiting us. The only thing I want to do now is close my eyes for a moment and forget the bad happenings and dream of my future.

17/8/17 Smyrna, Turkey

Dear diary,

Today we arrived in Smyrna. A all down the route people starred at us really weirdly. They all at first looked at us, at the condition we were, then they looked away and then back again at us. They also started gossiping with their partners. I tried to understand their feelings while they were staring. Some of them were feeling compassion for us. Others had an angry and mad glance at us. Even if we were spotted by everybody I tried to be calm and continue walking. When we arrived in Smyrna my dad found some strange mans. He told them that we had to go illegally to Greece. They responded to him that he must pay them 10.000 euros for all the family in order to be transported in Greece. ‘’You will be transported to a Greek island with a boat and your journey will last 1 hour’’ they said to my father. Even though the price was really high, my father had no other option so he was forced to give this money in order to move to Greece. So dear diary tomorrow I am going to travel with a boat for the first time in my life. I am really excited about visiting Greece. I hope my life is going to change now.

18/8/17 Lesvos, Greece

Dear diary,

Today was one of the worst days in my life. We arrived to a Greek island called Lesvos in really bad condition. But let me take this entire terrible story from the beginning. It was 6 in the morning. My father guided me and my family to an isolated coast. There we were supposed to find our luxury ship and be safely transported to Greece. Unfortunately the only thing we faced was a plastic boat which the average capacity was 10 persons and the migrators who wanted to arrive in Greece illegally were 20. Everybody was really disappointed. Everybody felt deceived from those heartless criminals that stole all our money by building this fake business. I was feeling like I lost my last chance for a better life. After a few minutes I told myself, ‘’Aisha you must stay strong, you have no other option, neither to stay in Turkey nor to turn back to Syria’’. I grabbed my little sister by her hand and said to my parents, ‘’ it’s our last chance for a better life, it might be risky but we must try it. Otherwise we will have to return to hell (Syria, because of the terrible condition)’’. We were the first family who got into the boat. At 6:30 the boat started. We were left alone. The boat was full and the weather wasn’t really helpful. The waves started crushing the boat. I was thinking that I was going to lose my life. Nobody knew how to swim so it was really easy for us to drown, especially for the younger passengers. The condition didn’t get better. The waves started getting bigger and bigger. All the passengers were sure the plastic boat was going to sink. After hours of concern, anxiety and fatigue i heard a man’s voice shouting ‘’ an island, an island’’. It was the best sentence I had ever heard in my entire life. Immediately some Greek fisherman tried to help us. They took control of our boat and managed to get us out of the sea and place us into the shore. I was, I am, and I will be forever grateful to this person who saved me and my family’s life. Now we are in Lesvos, in Greece and we are still resting in the shore the fisherman spotted us. I still hope for a better life, for a chance to live free without being afraid of everything and knowing that all my targets will be fulfilled. Actually, I think here in Greece my life will change. I hope with all my heart that people here in Greece will be friendly and treat us we the right way. Now the only thing me and my family have is hope. We have no more money, no more food ,we are just united in order to reach our target, a chance for a better life.

29/9/17 Lesvos, Greece

Dear diary,

I apologize for not communicating with you for a long but I had no time to write to you. So, me and my family are still in Greece in Lesvos. We have been here in this Greek island for over a month. My life has changed a lot. My father rented a tiny basement and that’s now our new home. Also my parents gave me the opportunity to go to a new school. My new school is Greek so I cannot understand anything. The only lessons I can take part in is English and also I can exercise my maths a little bit. Actually I don’t really care about the language. I am sure that one day I will be adapted to the Greek way of life. The fact that changes all my phycology and affects my negatively is my classmates behavior. Every day when I go to school I hear whispers from everywhere. I may cannot understand what the kids are saying about me but I am sure they judge my appearance because of them expressions. They stare at me all the time and then they start gossiping. I feel like I deserve nothing by the time they do that to me. One day one of my classmates took off my burka and started running. I chased him for a while and then I faced my burka into the rubbish bin. Everybody was laughing so hard. I don’t know what the funny part of this story was but what I truly know is that my heart broke to tiny pieces. That was such a disrespectful act, especially for me, as my religion doesn’t allow women to show a big part of them head. Every day when I return from school I start crying so hard and I start thinking that we left from war in order to live a better life, but now my family and especially I have to face all this racism. If there truly exists an any kind of God up there I just beg him to send mercy to all those refuges from Syria. Every day the only thing I am thinking of is why my family and I have to face so many problems and so many difficulties daily. We escaped from war and we came here to live all that disdain. And I am sure that we are not the only refugees that face these terrible circumstances. Fortunately we belong to the luckiest refugees as we own a small ‘’house’’ now here in Greece and we don’t have to stay in the encampment. Also, we have the opportunity to eat as my father still slightly has some money that is enough for a loaf of bread daily. So in comparison to other families we are ‘’lucky’’ and I can say I feel blessed about that. To sum up dear diary, my feelings right now are mixed. On the one hand I feel as usually depressed but from the other side I still have hope and that hope beats every other bad feeling that exists inside me.

22/4/27 London, United Kingdom

Dear diary,

Ohhh my friend I missed you so much. Last time I communicated with you was 10 years ago. My life has changed a lot all those years. My family and I decided to stay in Greece and after some years I started adoring this place as I adapted to it and I started making real friends. I learned the language and I became an excellent student. When I finished school I decided to follow my dreams and have a career as a fashion designer. I spent three years of my life in Italy because of my studies, and here I am now in London working for one of the most famous brands of the whole world as a fashion designer. Isn’t it wonderful? As you understand my life has changed from worst to the best. Maybe all that hope I had for a chance of a better life made my life like this. My family is really proud of me. My sister became a doctor and now she works in Houston in USA. My parents returned back to Syria to our home as the civil war ended. Even if now my life is really comfortable I will never forget my childhood and all these difficulties I faced, so I try to help as much as I can poor families that come across bad circumstances. I feel so blessed that I can have the life of my dreams. All the things I dreamed of came true. The main thing I understood from my life until now is that you must never give up, even if there are so many difficulties, even if everybody is opposite to what you want to do, you must keep going straight into your targets. As I always say “Put your trust in yourself when unexpected things happen to you and think that if your mind is strong all difficult things can become easier”.

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