24 October 2005

There's no place like home...

A question that has followed me through out my whole life, and perhaps now more than ever, is where is ‘home’? Is ‘home’ simply where you were born, or is ‘home’ where your father or mother were born, or is it perhaps where your social life is, where your work is? Is it just a feeling so you can ‘feel at home’ anywhere so far you are happy and satisfied?

As I mentioned I already moved a lot within my own country, so I can feel a little bit at home all over… or is it that I don’t feel at home anywhere? Hmmm. My husband also moved a lot, but he moved all over the world and when he finally reached Sweden he have since then also lived in many different cities. It seems that once you leave your place of birth you are forever doomed to a rootless existence.

Most immigrants dream of returning to their country of origin. It’s a very strong feeling that perhaps cannot quite be understood until you lived it yourself. Even though I refused the idea of leaving my own country (I had just to look at my husband to see what that does to you) I realized that my husband wasn’t able to let go of his dream. Better let him live it. I also knew, by the stories of others, that the odds were against him. Very few people can actually manage to return. It’s not easy to start a “new” life once you’ve reached a certain age. For most people the hardest part is that once you’ve returned you cannot dream anymore. You suddenly wake up and often realize that the country you’ve dreamed of is not covered with a pink shimmer. As UmmYousef with a sense of humour put it; “after all, Gaza is not all what it’s cracked up to be…”

As we are both devoted muslims there was of course a religious reason behind our choice. At first we struggled with choosing another country than Palestine (it was after all an occupied area although it shimmers in pink). First Syria (but we were advised not to by too many people due to the treatment of Palestinian nationals), then Jordan (but my husband’s sister who lives there advised us not to because she said the people there cannot be trusted), then Emirates (my husband traveled there but in the end we felt that living there was too expensive for us), then Morocco (since my husband have a brother there he traveled but came home sure that it was not the country for us) then we started thinking of Malaysia (but although it is a well run Islamic country it is too far away and too different, aren’t the children already dealing with two cultures?), perhaps England (but even though the muslims there reached much further than in Sweden, did we really want to leave a non-islamic country for another non-islamic country?) or Lebanon (too expensive). Finally we came to the conclusion that Egypt would be best. After all it’s the neighbor of Gaza and similar in culture and dialect. We made all the arrangements, sold our house, sold the car, told family and friends which was not at all easy. The closer we got to traveling, the closer the disengagement of the settlements in Gaza came, until finally we started thinking why should we live anywhere else than there? So after only a short time in Egypt we traveled for Gaza.

3 comments:

Savtadotty said...

As a third-generation "wandering Jew," (grandparents born in Eastern Europe, parents born in the USA, me immigrated to Israel), I can only refer you to one of my favorite authors, Viktor Frankl, who wrote "Home is wherever I am understood."

Judy said...

My father was a refugee three times in his life. Once in 1915, when the Russian army fought one of its battles with the Germans and Austrians, and his village got burnt down. Once in 1922, when he and all the other young Jewish men he knew fled to Germany to avoid becoming cannon fodder for the anti-semitic Polish army, and then once in 1939 when he came to England. And I remember him saying to me that he was happiest in England, because that was where he knew he was really safe. And he considered that the education he'd missed out on had been supplied by watching television. He had a wonderful capacity for making the most of whatever life offered him, right to the end of his life, when he lay in hospital, and said how much he enjoyed seeing the clouds and hearing the birds singing, which he could hear from his bed

Abu Sinan said...

I am an American male convert married to a Saudi woman. I can relate to you on several levels. I was born in Germany and came to the US when I was five. We moved several times when I was a child. I lived all over the US as an adult, and lived in Europe as well. My job had me going all over the place. Nice blog, I certainly will be back!