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  • Amal Alhuwasyhil

This Deep Sense of Loss


The Loss...

2019, I leave this deep sense of loss with you.

Oh Canada, do you remember the first time we met? At the Vancouver airport, Sep 16th, 2013. I had three giant pink suitcases, I wore a full Islamic cover with a pink headscarf, and pink rosy glasses. I remember my first impression of you; you were lush, polite and unpredictable.

Do you remember me from back then? I was wearing glasses. Glasses of judgment and observation to this “lost west” as I was taught, strange environment, the homelessness scene on East Hastings, the small families, the isolated communities, people’s disappointment and complaints when it rained.

Do you remember me from back then? I was a little bit chubby. I came from a place of spoiledness, always driven from door to door. I got my exercise shopping; lifting the weight of my bags and carrying myself one step at a time… walking.

It’s been six years, look where we are now… entering a new decade, together.

Oh Canada, our last birthday was special!

On July 1st, I celebrated yours “boating” on the Okanagan Lake water, watched the sky lit up with fire, to celebrate you, to celebrate colonization, to celebrate you for all you are, all that you are not, and all that you’re becoming…

Oct 10th, just a day before my birthday, you send me my new permit, you gave us two more years... - Best birthday gift ever. To all my future lovers, try to beat that.

Oh Canada, you know when to make a move. But.. I want more...

It’s hard for me not to ask you what’s next? For me not to worry that your immigration laws are going to wildly change, that more people are willing to tell me that they love me, while they tell me about their strong anti-immigration opinions.

Oh Canada, you spent zero, ZERO, of your resources bringing me up and educating me, but here I am, willing to give it up to you, to live on this stolen land, to live on this beautiful land.

Oh Canada, you’ve been my physical home for the past 6 years, but why can’t my body call you home yet. Why does it continue to yearn for Saudi soil, stormy sandy weather, the taste of lamb, the loud and chaotic family gatherings, the collective culture, the warm 16` winters.

I wonder if it’s because I don’t get it, and I wonder if I ever will. The pop culture references, the revolting connotation to “cunt”, the big english words, people’s family values, isolated communities, not knowing your neighbour, the endless possibilities, dating… oh dating! How does one commit with so much candy on this dry land?

Oh Canada, you and your men, just like Saudi Arabia and her men. They lie, they love, they cry, they dream, they break, the embrace, they worship, they ravish.

Oh Canada, you and your people, just like Saudi Arabia and her people, humans.

Me: “Oh Canada… I love you.”

Canada: …

Me: “Saudi Arabia... I love you.”

Saudi Arabia: “I love you too, but you need to obey me. GET IN LINE”

Oh Canada, I’m at a loss. I have you, but it feels like I’m out in the cold.

I know that from a societal standpoint I’m not alone, from a spiritual standpoint I’m not alone.

But I lived in a house of 8 men, 8 men Canada, 8 men! My pride, my glory, my 7 incredible brothers, and my beautiful loving father.

I lived with a strong fierce mother I called my best friend, and a sweet kind sister I got to name Nojoud.

They’ve sat me on a pedestal, and they loved me.

In who would I find their love, cherishment. Tell me, tell me Canada, TELL ME!

Their love has left an imprint, and there’s no way of getting it back, to be surrounded by it.

I also wonder if I would have that small family I wanted to have when I was 19, I wanted four kids, my mom would protest and say “7 kids!”, and my ex-husband would add “actually, I want a full soccer team, so 11 kids”

Here I am... 11,569 km away from home, I feel their love, but I feel the shame that who I am today does not meet their expectations.

How am I 11,569 km away from home?

What am I doing here? What am I doing here? Sometimes I ask myself that question...

The sacrifices to be here, the yearnings to be surrounded by my brothers love, to see them grow up, become men, to be in a culture that is so familiar in my blood.

Oh, Canada, why can’t you make up for the losses I’ve endured to be here. I lost my homeland, I lost my community, I lost the support of a collective community, and a loving BIG extended family. Are you worth it? Are you going to make up for it?

I know that I gained a lot, but hear me as I’m trying to shake this sense of loss… as I whale, as I grieve this loss. Me in a screaming, trusting but also defeated voice: “IS IT WORTH IT?” Is it worth the pain?…

Oh Canada, it’s time I tell you this. I was scared of walking on your foreign green grass when I first got here, I thought there would be “Grass Guards” behind the bushes ready to give me a fine for not walking on the sidewalks.

Now I walk on grass all the time, and I think about the first time we met. When I was playing nice, and would not step on your grass. My grass, I now call it.

2019, I leave this sense of loss with you. I trust that your decade swept me out only to create space for something bigger. I’m here, and I’m listening.


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