A Letter to Haseeba

The most elementary fantasmatic scene is not that of a fascinating scene to be looked at, but notion that “there is someone out there looking at us”; it it not a dream, but the notion that “we are the objects in someone else’s dream”. (S. Žižek)

Authors Nina and Milan Marković Matthis.
Premiered December 18th 2015 at Inkonst, Malmo as part of “Dreambox”, in cooperation with Bombinabombast.
Funded by Swedish Arts Council, Skåne Regional Council and the Department of Culture in Malmö.
My name is Haseeba Kariya.
Farid said I should write to you, he said you can help.
Father, mother and my older brother already left. We stayed, because of Adnan.
I am writing to you because Farid said that you can help prepare for our arrival.
We want to leave soon. They are bombing again and there is nothing left. Can you help?
Farid said that he explained my situation and that me being pregnant won’t be a problem. I am writing to you as a woman. Farid said that you have a son. I will also have a baby boy.
We plan to leave as soon as I deliver which should be in a couple of weeks.
My phone number is +963 (0) 931 648 172 but I think maybe I will have another one when we begin traveling.
Haseeba Kariya

Dear Nina,
I am very happy to read that you will be able to help us. Things here are not getting better. Now the Russians are bombing Homs too, not only Americans and the government. Farid thinks we should leave now but I am afraid to leave in this state. I am afraid to have the baby somewhere on the road. I heard so many bad stories. Healthy, young men disappear, get killed or robbed by the criminals and smugglers. I cannot do it.
I hear a lot of beautiful stories from Farid about you. I can’t wait to meet you. Farid said you finished a university and I never went to school. You and me are so different but I feel we are the same. You are like a ray of sunshine in this darkness, God bless you.

Dear Nina,
I am leaving now. Farid was killed two days ago and I have no one left. I am still waiting for the money I got for selling the house and I will be on my way. Please pray for me.

Dear Nina,
we are closing on Turkish border. I am good, healthy and alive, and I have so many good people I met on the way to thank for that. With this, I am sending you the letter I wrote before we left. Farid was still with me. There was hope.

Dear Nina,
thank you for all your words of support. It feels like I have a sister in a country so far away. I love reading about your life.
In your letter you ask me why I didn’t want to have children before and I’ve had much time these boring days to think. Maybe it was less about having children and more about becoming a mother. Never in my life did I dream about being a mother, not even as a young girl playing with my friends, instead I was usually the family pet, rather the dog than the mother.
There was something about the lack of freedom I saw around me, how the role of mother consumed and transformed the dreams and wishes of who the person was before. I did not even think about what I would gain for, as I saw it, sacrificing such a big part of myself. There is a big difference in becoming a mother and becoming a father, I did not see many men making big sacrifices as they entered fatherhood. I was afraid that as a mother I would only be able to look at the world and not to live in it, and not only that, but that I would be looked upon as someone who was not anymore living in the world, to be counted as nothing else than a mother. Living for other people… That is what a mother does, that is what she is, alive for other people. Or that is what my answer was before. It feels so silly, Nina, to tell you that a man changed my view, or almost shameful, as if I have been tricked, but it really changed when I met Farid, I changed.
There was never any pressure with him, not like from my family, he said that he wanted children but was not in a hurry. I am already 29, a bit old in some eyes. But now it was so beautiful, totally different from what I imagined before that I would feel. This little boy growing inside me won’t take anything away from my life, he will just change it. And now I dream about nothing more then to get him to safety. Is there anything else to hope for?

Dear Nina,
I am writing to you from a refugee camp in Gaziantep, Turkey. It was a very hard journey to get here but now I have time to rest. There is some food here and I can sleep in a bed. We got blankets and a man promised a doctor will come and look at me. I also have time to think. And I think about Farid, about my family and my unborn son. I also think about you Nina. About the name you chose for me googling for female Syrian names. About my (missing) life story…
Why did it have to be the first name that showed up? And why couldn’t you imagine me as nothing more then a generic Syrian woman escaping the war? Is it because the people you see being pushed in large groups at the train station carrying their children and blankets can’t produce any other association then “a refugee”? Or is it that your humanitarian feelings are broken when people like me get a voice, when we start talking in our own language, when we start yelling or praying or farting? And why did I have to be pregnant? Were you looking for ways to make yourself feel more for me… or is all that what we, Syrian women do – get pregnant? I understand where are you coming from. I imagine you are frustrated. You hate war, the injustice. You see your own country, and I am just guessing here, the country you are so proud of, turn more and more and more into a petit-bourgeois xenophobic shit hole. Believe me, I know how it feels, to loose your country, because, don’t get me wrong but I don’t care about Sweden, it is my country I want back. I want my family, my neighbors, my life, I want Farid back. The world is burning Nina, and no amount of recycling is gonna fix it. No amount of second hand shopping, organic and fair trade products are gonna make it better. I know you are proud of the toilets for the third gender and all the fucking PC policing you call feminism in Sweden but it is not going to stop the fire. And with fire we come, the people. More and more people like me, until even the most tolerant person like you begins to worry. And it is a very realistic fear, you know, this fear (I just imagine) you have of loosing your culture, your way of life, all the benefits you won in centuries of social struggles. I know that all of this you are so proud of in Sweden wasn’t given to you, that you had to fight for it. But what is maybe a little less obvious is that all that “progress” that made Europe the center of the world for so long was based on the system that fed on misery in countries like mine. And this process never stopped. There is nothing neutral about Sweden, never has been and maybe this is the source of that little sting – I am just guessing here – that little sting you notice every time you feel any kind of pleasure, the guilt – let’s call it guilt – you feel when you shop, eat in the restaurant, fuck. (It is guilt, is it not?) I am just afraid that writing my character, telling my poorly created story is not gonna help you make it go away. Or maybe it is awareness that your dream of Sweden is no more real than the one I had, of Farid, Adnan and me moving there? Everybody dreams of Sweden. Scandinavia today has an interesting role of providing proof that there is something like “capitalism with human face”. But we both know how far from truth this is. Sweden is going to take the biggest number of refugees this year but only after making insane amounts of money on selling arms these same refugees are running away from. We both know there is no such thing as a welfare social-democratic island in the global world we live in. It is a dream Europe is slowly waking up from.
Nina, please understand that all of these are just my assumptions because even though it is you who is writing these letters of mine, I know as little about you as you know about me. But we have a long journey ahead of us, both of us. There will be time to get to know each other better if I make it there alive.

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