21 June 2020
I woke up drenched…. This time with sweat and regret.
I woke up at 9 and by the side of my bed a beautiful card. A card handmade by my daughter Yara. It said “Happy Father’s Bay to the world’s best baddy.” I smiled as I read it and knew how this innocent girl gets confused between her B’s and D’s didn’t know baddy and daddy weren’t the same. I would save this card for her to see once she grew older.
She drew a sketch of a thin man and a little girl larger than the man and marked the man daddy and the little larger than daddy girl as “Dabby’s big girl.” She must’ve worked hard for this beautiful card.
And simultaneously I couldn’t help but cringe… Today was when Tahir was born to me and Samira seven years ago. I couldn’t forgive myself for what I’ve done. And what I’ve done is why I am single parenting this little girl. A single tear trickled down my eye
Yara jumped onto the bed and hugged me and began kissing me. She saw the tear and asked, “Papa? Why do you cry?” I wiped the tear and lifted this Princess from the Water as her name meant in the air and said “Papa is very happy with your surprise!” and I tickled her and she tickled me and I laughed.
She was my life and I can’t think of a life without her anymore and I shall make this little girl achieve her dreams even if it means I have to skip meals and my other pleasures for she was my one and only pleasure.
So I bathed her and took her out for breakfast and went to a water park where she wanted to go and there were rides where four-year-olds were allowed! We had a lot of fun and it didn’t matter if today was a huge burn in my pocket. All I wanted was that huge smile on her face.
As we were having lunch there were couples all around and she looked at one and asked, “Papa? Do I have a mommy?”
“She went to a place where she is very happy and she looks at you every night from the stars.” And I couldn’t help from having a flashback when Samira was shot in the back when I grabbed on Tahir’s hand and carried him on my back while he wailed for his dying mother while she screamed “DON’T LET HIM DIE” to me and I ran without looking back as I had to save Tahir…
Yara sipped her orange juice and didn’t ask anything else and I sighed in relief. We went to a movie later and returned in the evening.
She had her dinner and slept as she was tired and I didn’t even reach the third paragraph of the abridged children’s version of Cinderella.
I kissed the beautiful forehead of hers and dimmed the lights of her room and went to the refrigerator and opened a can of Soda and fell onto the couch.
I turned on the TV and there was a documentary about Father’s day as it was today and before I knew it I dropped onto the ground on my knees and was crying. I didn’t know but I felt like I needed to pray and I knew Allah would punish me for my sins and all I could do as a repentance was keep little Yara Happy.
I brought my prayer mat and a prayed to the almighty and begged for forgiveness. I sat on the mat, unable to move, a godforsaken figure in the middle of a room begging for forgiveness.
I closed my eyes and Tahir’s face flashed.
As I carried the four-year-old Tahir on my back I could hear explosions and gunshots and I ran as fast as I could while trying to control a four-year-old boy who just witnessed his birth mother die in front of his eyes.
I ran until I reached the beach and there was the truck which took in refugees from Aleppo to Latakia. We got onto it and the next night we got into a dinghy to Italy by paying the smugglers everything I had with me. All I was left with was a torn sweater and two sweaters for Tahir and a bag with our identification papers.
It was 23:30 when we embarked on the perilous journey over the Mediterranean sea in hope that a rescue vehicle will find us. By the evening of the next day on the cold January night, the sea grew turbulent. I held onto Tahir and he held onto me weeping and cold. I took off my sweater and put it around him and there I was shirtless protecting my only son, my love and my life.
But I had to be tested and now the almighty put another one in front of us. The sea turned turbulent and out overloaded dinghy overturned. I was trapped under the boat with my nose in the only air pocket available as I tried to pull Tahir up there. I fought for space for Tahir as everyone there tried to get their breaths but somehow I managed to get Tahir up there. My baby didn’t know how to swim and I was the one to save him.
I told him that I will have to push us under the water and come on the other side to save ourselves as I could feel the water sucking us slowly down and knew if we didn’t get out from under the boat we would die. I hear screams and gagging sounds of people drowning.
I took his head in my hands and kissed him. I told him to take a deep breath with me and I pushed him into the water, grabbed on to his sweater and went underwater fighting off the hands of people trying to pull themselves up with my help.
I pushed them all off and as I swam underwater a safe distance I could feel Tahir flailing in need of air, I immediately tried moving up to the surface when a man, latched onto my waist trying to save himself and wasn’t letting me move up.
I let go of Tahir to use my hands to push the man off in the heat of the moment and the man grabbed onto my legs and was pulling me down. I kicked him off and I swam to the surface and took deep breaths and when I calmed myself I realised all I had in my hand was Tahir’s empty sweater.
I went back underwater in searched for him and he was nowhere. I tried and tried and tried and cried and tried and cried even more and still tried searching him to the depths that I could go down to. Each time I came back gasping for air with an empty hand and an empty brown torn sweater and a waterproof bag on my back.
I was about lose consciousness when I saw a baby, no more than a year old lying on a huge plank. I swam towards her and held onto the baby and cried. I cried as I went cold and cold. I waited for a while and figured it out that the baby and I were the only survivors and I held onto her and the plank.
I held onto the girl not for her but for the plank in order to survive and by next morning when half my body turned numb a rescue vessel came by and picked us up. They checked our papers and I claimed the baby to be my daughter for I didn’t want to lose everything. This baby was a hope of my survival and I named her Yara – The girl from the water.
I since then worked in the underworld of Italy and made my way to the United Kingdom and got passports issued in our names ‘Mohammed Qasim’ and ‘Yara Qasim Mohammed’
I don’t know what good I’ve done but sins I have done many, and many decisions I took were wrong. But one decision I took right was to claim Yara as my daughter and now I teach at an elementary school and I pledge that shall keep her happy while I sat on the holy mat under the watchful presence of Allah.
May the almighty forgive me for my sins… For I’m not as good a Daddy and as fate had said through the hands of Yara, I’m the world’s biggest Baddy.
SOS- Save Our Syrians
This was a short Dear Diary story I wrote after reading articles about shipping incidents while refugees flee from Syria and the perilous journey they need to undertake while sailing across the Mediterranean in hopes to be rescued by vessels from Italy and Jordan.
I may have some errors in the story and have attempted to write it based on my knowledge of Islam and if any errors please do let me know as I would love it if this piece was as factually accurate.
The locations Aleppo and Latakia are actual cities in Syria and these are factual truths about refugees fleeing the country.
This is the first story of mine with a simple message. Let us all pray for a better tomorrow and try our best to what we can for these people who lose their families and their lives in the present crisis in Syria.
Not all are as lucky as Yara to have a father or be adopted and not all can even dream of a life by 2020 as I showed in this story.
This was an optimistic attempt to show a flicker of light for a possibility of a better life for these people who are deprived of basic needs.
With this, I sign off for the day…