Stumbled across this on my ever so crowded desktop. I wrote it on 27 June 2013 on the ferry I took from Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city, situated in the north and Tasuçu, Turkey.
On the way back, I’d be surrounded by Lebanese who had driven from Austria, Switzerland, Germany and even Sweden to Tasuçu from where they took the ferry to Lebanon to visit family during Ramadan. A couple of decades ago, they too had gone to Europe as refugees, during the Civil War (1975-1990).
Standing on the upper deck. Smoking. Looking at the stars above and the lights of Tripoli. Nearby, a group of people, men and women, sitting on mats they rolled out, a couple of pairs of shoes on the side. They’re eating. They’re Syrians, like most of my co-passengers. I’m heading to Mevlana, they’re heading towards safety, new beginnings, the unknown. Like Taha who left his three children and his pregnant wife in Damascus, looking for new opportunities in Mersin, hoping to soon find new work and being able to send for them. His eldest daughter, 19, is studying law. His son is 11, his second daughter 7. He thinks of them and his wife, his pillar, in everything he used to make until recently. He showed me the kitchen and interiors he designed and had made of acrylic imported from Korea or stone from Italy. His business was doing well. One of the bathrooms he showed me only exists in the picture in his mobile phone. The house it was part of has been destroyed. Thinking of the future, a future in Syria is near impossible, he says, whichever side may win. He’s been to Egypt already, trying to make it there. It wasn’t the right place… Over the past months, he’s taught himself some Turkish, in the hope of being able to settle there.
On the passageways outside, people sit, many busy with their mobile phones, ipads and ipods, others silently smoking nargileh.
And I am thinking of the journey ahead to Konya and Rumi. Of Roger. And of what lies ahead for the all that frail elderly couple I saw, the babies, small children… all the people for one night in the same boat with me.