Reflections

by Hadya Abdull Satar

Personal Statement

I have chosen creative writing as a tool to explore conflicts caused by clashes between individuals (interpersonal) as well as conflicts within a person (intrapersonal).  My main focus has been to use my own experience and write short stories of fiction. Specifically, for the interpersonal part of the project, I describe experiences between the occupier and occupied. I portray relationships, which have been forced upon people due to war conflicts. I explore emotions, and reactions, which can result as response to disagreement between two groups of people. For the intrapersonal part of the project, I describe emotions, which an individual might feel as a reply to the outside world. How does it feel to be different than people around a person? How does it feel to accept a culture that does not accept the previous culture within? Along with these questions, I am exploring daily life struggles to survive the conflicted self.


Soviet

It was 3 a.m. the sky was a rubicund color. Sometimes there would also be a bright flash of yellow. “Someone is taking pictures.” Her parents would say. “It is a competition between several children for who would become the loudest drummer.” Her parents would say.  But those bombardments would not let her sleep. It was a time of war. It was the time when she was five. Lying in their bed she would hold her little sister’s ears so she could finally fall asleep. She would stay awake trying to make sense of her parents’ conversations. She knew she would be giving away her dolls very soon. Everybody was leaving the city for a safer refuge. Finally, one night the parents woke the children and left their home.

The bus was moving toward the South, leaving a mountain of dust for refugees walking behind the bus. Passengers were silent, while listening to the sick voice of the engine.  Suddenly, the bus stopped. The cry of a baby interrupted the silence, and whispers of prayers invaded the air. Finally, a woman confessed the reason for the halt. “They are looking for more money.” A man with a gun, aiming at the passengers, entered the bus. She pressed her doll against her chest. He held the gun while smiling with his calm blue eyes. Aiming the gun at the passengers, he wordlessly collected purses, one after another.

She could not take the silence and obedience of all adults in the bus. “How dare you!” She exclaimed while trying to stand up and hold her doll at the same time. But it seemed as if her tiny legs could not reach the floor. “You burned people’s houses, killed their husbands and brothers! Now you are trying to take the last money that they have? How can your conscience allow you to do that?” Her face became red, anger had paralyzed her. The only thing she could hear was the sound of her own heartbeat. The pause on the bus was torturing. He smiled, and pointed his gun toward her, and she finally let go of her doll . She could not stand up and hold her doll at the same time.

 

 

                               

 The Secret Life behind the Red Square

            “Давай в машину!” the Russian policeman shouted at my dad. “If you are taking my dad, you will have to take me, too. I am not letting him go alone!” I shouted at him. The policeman ran at me and shoved both of us into his car. I had been going to a park with my entire family to celebrate an Islamic holiday, Eid. The policemen had stopped us and asked for Russian passports, which we didn’t have. “Listen, either you will give us the money we want or we will let all of you be beaten by the Skinheads,” he calmly said to my father later in the car.
“It’s obviously us who protect you, нигеров.”       

I had seen Americans, Italians, and other tourists come to Moscow to explore. They would see the museums, eat borscht, and explore 'Pushkinskaya Ploshad'. I had watched the travelers take the most beautiful subway in Europe to get to the heart of the city -- 'Krassnaya Ploshad', or the Red Square. They would enjoy their trip and finally go home with a feeling of satisfaction and bring good memories home along with their luggage. But these tourists would not usually see the actual picture of the city behind the walls of the Kremlin's growing radical nationalism. They would not see the hardships and struggles of the "dirty race": non-Russians. They would be blind to the struggles my family had faced for nine years.
            One typical summer day, my mother took us, me and my siblings, to an amusement park in the northern part of Moscow. We enjoyed ice cream, rode horses, and went to the museum of Yuri Gagarin. We were returning home by subway when we encountered a group of young men in dark coats beating a person who was already on the ground. “Leave our country!” shouted one. “Russia is only for Russians." That voice has been carved in my mind. My mother took us out of the subway train immediately, thinking that we would escape seeing the Skinheads. With each passing day, the racist movement became bigger and bigger as more and more non-Russians were beaten to death. The government would cover the incidents as 'hooliganism,' and wouldn’t address the more serious issue behind it. It would not face the problem of growing racism and nationalism among Russian youth. My dad would come early from his workplace punched and kicked. Now, I would like to go back to Moscow as a tourist and explore the same places with different eyes and enjoy the tourist sites without fearing for my life. Without knowing the secret behind those Red Squares?.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottle of Milk

Black and white picture.

Rocking chair.

The baby and she are holding a bottle.

Her uniform with parachute imprints.

She is ready to feed the baby, and the baby is ready to be fed.

It is her eyes.

It is her eyes, and that look in them.

The tired and sad smile.

The look of sacrifice for everyone. Sacrifice of hers.

She gave up herself for others.

It is her daily job.

She is a doctor but not in a hospital.

She is a doctor but she feeds children with milk.

She is a doctor but she changes the baby’s clothes instead of changing lives

She is a doctor but she bleaches diaper counters.

I ask why? Why did the war have to happen?

Why does she have to leave everything behind?

Why did she have to choose between her and her children’s future?

She could be saving lives.

I question myself.

Black and white picture.

Rocking chair.

Uniform with parachute imprints.

The baby is asleep in her arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eighteen Rabbits

1998. I open my eyes. I am awakened by the shouting and gun shots. I stop breathing trying to listen where the sounds come from. Is anyone hurt? Will we have to move from our home? What will happen to my eighteen rabbits? Who will take care of my mother’s patients at the refugee camp? As I’m lost in these thoughts, she comes and holds me such that the world around me closes its eyes with me.

2006. I open my eyes. I look from the window; the lights outside our apartment let me see the rain still dropping on old Volgas. I look at the clock. Is it still five in the morning? I rub my eyes, and look at the clock again. It takes me a moment to count the remaining hours before it’s time to abandon my current life. How is it going to be? How am I going to survive surrounded by people I do not know and leave people I love behind? How will I speak a  language I do not comprehend?  My heart rushes. I take a deep breath and close my eyes.

2012. I open my eyes. It’s the first day of my last year in high school. I sigh, “finally.” I think to myself, it took less than twelve years to get here. But was it really twelve years? My parents surely did not think so. It took them a lifetime to give me what I have right now: education and memories, two things, which will not be taken away as my rabbits were.