No time in a no place

Nights after coming back from Cherso’s refugee camp, in Greece

Photography by Basel Ahmad Araj, from the refugee camp in Cherso (Greece), where he is living for the moment.

A gust of hot wind licks my feet when I try to sleep. It entered through the open balcony and has touched my body like the breath of a lost dog. I wonder if it is the only thing that I have left from Summer: the wet sticky suffocation of Barcelona’s nights in an attic, as if the same suffocation from Greece had flew with me on the plane back. The rest stayed there. They stayed there.
I often felt dizzy inside the tent, and went to put my head under running taps, on the other side of the fence. Some days the school was full of children, other days had less. Some of them were dressed in polar and sweatshirts, but did not pay attention to the heat that choked us because they were copying the numbers from the board, and then trying to understand why three plus two is five.

What’s left from the camp? What is left from Syria? Where it flew Avin’s house in Aleppo? Where are now all those things I had to say? Why three plus two must be always five? If someone told me that nothing of that was real, could I believe it? If someone told me that I had never went to Greece, that I had never step on a refugee camp, that I had never been in front of their eyes, could I come to believe it?

Photography by Diana Mizrahi, Cherso’s refugee camp

I fall asleep and open the door to dreams, according to the protocol: white glove, red carpet, golden knob and tilt torso with a light blink of eyes. They come in, one by one, settling in the grooves of the tiles, cradled in the folds of the curtain, sitting on the aluminum teapot and on the spines of the books covered with dust. Each one visits my room, pushed in the back by a certain doggy breath that sounds familiar to me. Asia’s almond eyes, who hold again my hand; Fatima and the blue backpack, full of pencils; Cauca with smiling envy; Sohair sitting in her tent waiting for something to happen, that everything happens; Mohammad Ayub counting brown fingers, so close to his eyes as if he could see little fleas on the top; Sadir pocket full of burning rage; Avin, sweet, and her mother, and their amulets; Sahid standing next to the wooden column; Yudi from the brave silence of who’s going ahead alone; Hivah with laughs; Hamudi and his wounds in the nose; Tabarak pretending to be a serious child, without success; Safi with sunflower seeds and chewing gum and the cap side, wrapped in squeals of excitement. The same Safi who covers now my eyes from behind and even say Safi, Safi, Safi !, he doesn’t uncover them. I feel his sweaty palms of whale’s skin hot, and drags me to school, sshhht, women are having sewing lessons, before the dancing time. Now, we turn off the ping-pong table where some kids scream and Nur get two points; we walk through the streets, in tents some people look at us bored and speak bored and stick and hurt and sing bored, but I do not see anything under Safi’s hands that smell like reheated watermelon and sunflower, guiding me between awnings where the fire toasts bread and burns hours and it smells like missing things. Safi shouts, shouts fun in my ear “Mashnuna, mashnuna!”, everything turns into colors red yellow and green twisted on my wrist; I imagine the perfume of Syria as if I could go there years ago, when things were. Now Safi pushes me running through the streets and someone asks me if I will come back.

“Will you come back?”. I wish to come back and see that and there is nothing, to return to verify that they aren’t there, so that their voices have transcended time, and no children wear polar in August, to come back to see that if someone said that it wasn’t true, he was right. But he did not.
I’m awake. I’m in my bed and now a fresh breeze comes through the balcony, I cover myself with the sheet and curled my legs. Some cars go down the street, the screams of their motors climb up the facade. I’ll be soon in the subway, where the loudspeakers, the beeps of the door and the strident voices of some French girls with brimmed hats will get mixed up under the floor of the city. Time and space have cheat me, it’s been a few days since I left Greece. It already was.

Where the dog has gone? What’s left from the camp? Where did I put it inside me, in which ventured corner of me that it can not ever go out, but just come up with a dream face whenever it wants? Now it rains, a storm breaks out over my hanging clothes. I wonder if it is raining in Greece too. Their lives are wet and dried in a non-place. Their time is running without moving. We were chaeted. I was cheated by the plane that transported me from one world to another.

What remains now? To know that it is real.

What’s left from the camp? The camp itself.

Where did it all go? Only I left, they stayed.

Will I be back?, will they be back?

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